In touch with … Anna Schkabaryn

As Flinders celebrates the first anniversary of our RAP during National Reconciliation Week, we spend a moment with project officer Anna Schkabaryn from the Office of Indigenous Strategy & Engagement to learn how the objectives of the RAP document are being delivered at Flinders University.

What is your role at Flinders University? 

I recently commenced with the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement as a project officer, working closely with the Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) and Business Manager on strategic projects, with an emphasis on supporting the Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) deliverables and reporting.

Before my appointment in February, I had taken a sidestep from the Higher Education sector for a year to manage a not-for-profit community organisation offering social inclusion programs for disabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Apart from this short stint developing community services and NDIS business, I’ve spent much of the past decade focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support and strategy development in higher education.

As a proud Kokatha woman, I take it as my duty to work towards improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in higher education now and into the future, for our children.

I’m excited and privileged to join the Flinders community when so much momentum, activities and initiatives are in motion around its RAP and with much, much more on the horizon. Many of the foundational strategies to support and provide framework that support our RAP initiatives are in place, such as the Indigenous Research Strategy and the Indigenous Workforce Strategy.

In addition to supporting the RAP deliverables and reporting, I’m also responsible for Cultural Training programs, Cultural Protocols and Cadetships.

One year on from the RAP launch, there’s much to celebrate – and I think it’s important to take a moment to recognise and share this success, the challenges, and fruit of everyone’s labours. During Nation Reconciliation Week, it seems apt for us to be talking about all the “Action” being taken across our community.

What does a normal day look like for you?

I love variety in my work – and every day is different. I could be preparing agendas and documents or attending committee meetings. I also do background research to support our strategic measures. I especially look forward to collaborating with Flinders staff outside of the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement on various working parties that I’m contributing to.

What has been one of your proudest moments?

I’ve had many moments to be proud of, and a common theme centre around them – resilience and growth. I take great pride in my children, especially every time they try and fail but then get up and try again. I’m proud of their creativity, intelligence and compassion that motivates them to do their very best every day. It doesn’t matter if it comes with some tears and tantrums (from my 5-year-old – not me), their tenacity to do it themselves is a beautiful thing to behold. I’m equally proud and feel this way about many of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff I have mentored and provided support to. I’m currently working to build a framework that will help to support them further.

How do you relax in your spare time?

As a busy mum of two who works full-time, I’m finding that spare time is scarce. My down time is split between spending quality time with my family, gardening and our pets. We have a keen interest in reducing our carbon footprint and our reliance on fossil fuels – so our family is very much into E-bike technology and we love doing trips on our collection of E-bikes around our local area.

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