Inaugural lecture explores barriers to Reconciliation

Professor Tom Calma AO will tonight present Flinders University’s landmark new Indigenous Affairs oration, the inaugural Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien Lecture.

Titled Reconciliation Thinking and You, Professor Calma will explore why Reconciliation remains unattained despite decades of effort and the challenges facing us all in the collective quest for a stronger culturally cohesive Australia.

The lecture marks a milestone in Flinders University’s journey towards reconciliation – its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – which was launched yesterday as part of our National Reconciliation Week activities.

Flinders University’s collective vision is to foster an environment that recognises and embraces Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, knowledge and cultures. Grounded in the concepts of togetherness, reciprocity, and respect, this vision has framed the University’s RAP – heralding expanded actions towards ensuring equity, broad community understanding, and closing the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.

Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien is a Kaurna Elder who shares a strong affinity with the University as a regular visiting Elder. He became involved with the Aboriginal Advancement League in the 1960s, before working in education to promote Kaurna language and culture. He was Adjunct Research Fellow, David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of South Australia. In 1997 he was named NAIDOC Elder of the Year and in 2009 he received a Citizen of Humanity Award from the National Committee of Human Rights.

Professor Calma is a Kungarakan Elder and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group, whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory respectively. He has contributed extensively to discussion and policy on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs through some four decades in public sector roles. These include Senior Adviser to the Minister of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission; and Race Discrimination Commissioner.

Professor Calma was the 2013 ACT Australian of the Year and the 6th Chancellor of the University of Canberra – the first Indigenous male Chancellor of an Australian university. His Social Justice Report informed the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap initiative, and he now consults on matters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Professor Calma has taken a leave of absence as co-chair of Reconciliation Australia in order to co-chair the “Indigenous Voice to Government’ initiative.

Inaugural Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien Lecture: Reconciliation thinking and you, Professor Tom Calma AO

When: 5:30 to 6:30pm Tuesday 2 June 2020

Where: online



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