Welcome, new Elders

The Flinders University Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Flinders Northern Territory have appointed two Elders on Campus, Mr Richard Fejo and Dr Pat Miller AO, the first recruited to the University’s campuses in advisory and governance roles under the new Elders on Campus initiative.

Announced alongside Flinders University’s first Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, the roles are part of a University-wide initiative to engage more deeply with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives across education and research and advancing support for the recruitment and success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff.

The core functions of the roles are anticipated to form a culturally stimulating, inclusive and complimentary education package that can be adapted to the diverse practices of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, with flexibility to suit different scenarios and geographical settings.

The Senior Elder on Campus and Elder on Campus position descriptions align with the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health’s vision: ‘To create a life-course approach to promote cultural learning pathways, support healthy country and build leadership capacity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health’.

Senior Elder on Campus Mr Richard ‘Balang/Japaljarri’ Fejo is a Larrakia man (his father’s country) and Wurramungu from Tennant Creek (his mother’s country). Mr Fejo has presented Larrakia Welcome to Country in Darwin since 1994 and is a locally recognised and accepted Elder in his community. He is serving in his third year as the Chairman of the Larrakia Nation in Darwin and recently joined the board for the NT Australia Day Council. Mr Fejo was previously employed by Northern Territory General Practice Education for eleven years. In this role he spent nine years as the Senior Cultural Educator and five years as the Co-Chair of the National Cultural Educator and Cultural Mentor Network.

Alice Springs Elder on Campus Dr Pat Miller AO is a Traditional Owner and Native Title Holder of Alice Springs and accepted by the community as an Arrernte Elder. Dr Miller is well respected for her cultural knowledge and expertise and received a doctorate from Flinders University in 2013, in acknowledgement of her ability to provide culturally appropriate guidance during many years of employment and leadership within Central Australia. She has over a decade of experience with Remote Health Central Australia and was the CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.

Collectively, Mr Fejo and Dr Miller have comprehensive knowledge of the issues faced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians, as well as influence in the Northern Territory communities that Flinders University are responsible to.

Their roles are imperative to achieving the goals within Poche Flinders’ strategic plan, and Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health more broadly (of which both Poche Flinders and Flinders NT fall under.) They are also invaluable to the University as a whole as it progresses through implementing the deliverables of its first Reconciliation Action Plan.

In addition to the Elders roles, a number of cultural advisor roles are being appointed across South Australian and Northern Territory campuses.

Sophia Hogan has commenced as Cultural Educator and Research Assistant with Flinders University’s Katherine campus. Ms Hogan is a weaver who has lived in Katherine for many years.  She has strong cultural ties with the local Aboriginal nations of the Jawyon people, and is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation. Her connections extend to the Myallie from her mother’s side, Gudanji and Wambayi peoples on her father’s side.

Katherine campus’ Madeleine Bower, Indigenous Health Lecturer, also plays a strong cultural advisory role working alongside staff and students to enhance their cultural experiences in community engagement, activities, cultural orientations, teaching and research.  Ms Bower has lived in Katherine all her life and has close affiliations with the Jawoyn and surrounding nations.  Her mother was a Stolen Generation member from the 1930s and lived in Katherine since the early 1950s. Ms Bower’s connections are Gudanji, Wambayi, Wanyi/Garrawa peoples, and she continues to connect with family today.

Flinders University welcomes its latest Elders and advisers to campus, and acknowledges the critical roles of our cultural advisers across South Australia and the Northern Territory in progressing the deliverables within our first Reconciliation Action Plan.

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