Universities Australia Chair Professor John Dewar AO said the 2022‑25 Indigenous Strategy challenges universities to continue breaking down the barriers faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff, and communities.
“Australia’s universities have come together to build on their commitment to fairness and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our academic institutions,” Professor Dewar said.
“Since the launch of Universities Australia’s first Indigenous Strategy, we have continued working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to acknowledge historic injustices, break down systemic barriers and create opportunities for staff and students.”
“While we celebrate these shared achievements, we recognise there’s more work to do. The new strategy establishes the framework to develop more effective and targeted ways for universities to share best practice initiatives and champion Indigenous advancement within our campuses and our communities.”
“Implementation of the new strategy remains a high priority for the Universities Australia Board, the Plenary and across all specialist policy committees to support and embed change across the sector. This is imperative to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are respected, valued and recognised as integral contributors to all of university life.”
Vice-Chancellors of Australia’s 39 comprehensive universities were joined today by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, Chair of the Deputy- and Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Committee, and Ms Inala Cooper, President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC), to mark the strategy’s launch.
Key focus areas of the strategy include:
- working harder to support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to complete degrees and move into positive post-study outcomes;
- strengthening pathways for staff career advancement and representation at all levels of their institutions;
- systematically measuring universities’ efforts to identify both successes and areas where more work is needed;
- improving cultural safety and taking action on racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by implementing Indigenous-specific anti-racism strategies; and
- recognising the value Indigenous people and knowledges bring to the university and embedding Indigenous value systems and knowledges in teaching and research.
Chair of Universities Australia DVC/PVC Indigenous Committee Professor Bronwyn Fredericks said the strategy outlined a framework for Australia to play on the world stage as a leader in Indigenous engagement.
“This new strategy will build on the success of the first strategy, adopting more ambitious objectives and commitments for the sector. This is a call for universities to move beyond aspiration to implementation and real outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Professor Fredericks said.
President of NATSIHEC Ms Inala Cooper said the alignment in priorities between NATSIHEC and UA provides a strong foundation to realise the strategy’s goals.
“NATSIHEC values the collaborative approach to this work, for the benefit of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars, employees, and community,” Ms Cooper said.
“All our universities sit on unceded, sovereign, Indigenous land and, as we work to strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academy, so too we work toward truth telling and social justice for our peoples.”
The strategy can be accessed on the Universities Australia website.