Reflecting on Reconciliation across Flinders

Last week Flinders University held its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Forum for 2021, addressing Reconciliation Australia’s theme for this year – More than a word, Reconciliation take Action. Held over three days, the RAP Forum saw more than 115 staff attend a suite of engaging presentations, cultural activities and workshops.

Hosted by RAP co-chairs Professor Jonathan Craig and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Associate Professor Simone Ulalka Tur, along with members of the RAP Oversight Committee, the forum was officially opened with a morning tea at the Flinders University Museum of Art, where Senior Kaurna Man Uncle Mickey O’Brien performed a Welcome to Country. Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling was present to thank the Flinders community for the dedication it has shown to Reconciliation.

The three-day RAP Forum encouraged deep thinking about reconciliation and truth telling, with workshops from Adnyamathanha woman Marsha (Arranyinha) Uppill, who is host, co-founder and director of Arranyinha.

Arranyinha offered three sessions on Unconscious BiasCultural Respect and the Heart of Reconciliation, sharing her personal stories and exploring bias, along with thoughtful and respectful ways to offer an Acknowledgement to Country and exploring what the heart of reconciliation looks and feels like.

“The sessions were inspiring and thought-provoking,” says Associate Professor Tur.

Reconciliation Australia Narragunnawali Program, facilitated by Stephanie Woerde, spoke about learning within higher education and reflected on a deep personal level about reconciliation, the importance of education, understanding our shared history, and the future moving forward.

Presentations by various colleges and portfolios showcased the ongoing shared work and commitment that many people across the University are taking to progress individual RAP initiatives such as working groups, student engagement, Indigenous topics within teaching programs, and the development of localised programs and initiatives.

Walking cultural tours conducted at Bedford Park Campus and Warriparinga Wetlands provided an important grounding in understanding and learning about the land that most of us reside and work on, which are the lands of the Kaurna People. The tours were facilitated by Associate Professor Tur,  Flinders University Museum of Art (FUMA) Director Fiona Salmon and Uncle Mickey O’Brien.

“Knowing whose Country you are on is important,” said Uncle Mickey during the Bedford Park campus tour.

Ms Salmon showcased the FUMA teaching space and the collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art housed at the University, which comprises approximately 4000 works. This represents nationally significant cultural documents and invaluable resources for teaching, learning and research.

Weaving workshop, hosted by Ngarrindjeri, Ngadjuri, Narrunga and Wirangu artist Sonya Rankine of Lakun Mara.

Ngarrindjeri, Ngadjuri, Narrunga and Wirangu artist Sonya Rankine of Lakun Mara hosted a weaving workshop, where she shared the cultural tradition of weaving, the diversity of weaving practices and importance of cultural maintenance. The workshop was popular among staff, who enjoyed creating their own basket or mat, which they were able to take home.

Professor Craig and Associate Professor Tur thanked all of the RAP Forum’s attendees and presenters on behalf of the Oversight committee, and look forward to the continuing progress of the Reconciliation Action Plan.

“The three-day RAP Forum demonstrated that coming together to enact reconciliation as a University community is a relational process,” they said.

• The second Elder Forum for 2021 will be held on 12 October. More information, along with registration details, will be featured in next week’s edition of FIT.

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