|This week much of my attention was directed to equity and diversity matters. If I said that I missed the time spent focusing all of my attention on COVID-19 it would be a lie.
The start of National Reconciliation Week included a meeting with UNEIEC members and work on our preparations for a ‘virtual’ NAIDOC week later this year. The discussion in various places focused on the work we need to do to build on our long standing commitment to ensuring that UNE provides a culturally safe environment and offers relevant support to all those seeking to use education as a means of leveraging personal and professional success. As a regional university, established on the country of the Anaiwan people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which the University stands, UNE is committed to supporting the educational, cultural and social advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Today, UNE supports some 967 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, most of whom followed alternative pathways into university study. There are currently 33 staff, including 8 academics, who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Small but important steps.
Another key action this week was the submission of UNE’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to Reconciliation Australia for endorsement. The draft plan is the product of extensive community engagement and represents an exciting next step in UNE’s journey to fulfill our commitments and responsibilities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. It also reaffirms our commitment to working side-by-side with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff to create equitable opportunities in higher education, regardless of location or circumstance.