A new cultural meeting place for the Flinders University community has been officially opened at a special event held during National Reconciliation Week. Yungkurrinthi Inparrila is a place of well-being and healing, a place to grieve, and a space that brings Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities and the wider community together.
More than 20 years after the idea of a special place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, students and community on Flinders’ Bedford Park campus was first raised, Yungkurrinthi Inparrila was officially opened after the installation of the Wardli (wod-lee) – or shelter.
The Wardli, designed by Kaurna artist James Tylor and Wiradjuri architectural designer Samantha Rich, is the centre piece of the new space, highlighted by the special inclusion of traditional possum skins, provided by Uncle Mickey and Uncle Lewis from their personal collections.
Due to the wild weather in South Australia, the official proceedings began in Alere with a traditional Welcome to Country performed by Uncle Mickey O’Brien, Senior Kaurna man.
Guests heard from Elder on Campus for Bedford Park and Senior Kuarna man Uncle Lewis O’Brien, who shared the importance of this space as a tangible example of the Kaurna notion of ‘twoness’.
“The completion of the Yungkurrinthi Inparrila with the installation of the Wardli now provides learning opportunities for students representing the Kaurna notion of ‘twoness’. ‘Twoness’ represents the two parts required to make a whole and allows our students the opportunity to learn in opposite but complementary ways, such as indoors and outdoors, European and Indigenous, to make their learning a whole or ‘complete’ process.”
Associate Professor Simone Tur, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) spoke of the importance of this new space for everyone in the Flinders community.
“Yungkurrinthi Inparrila (Meeting Place) brings the Flinders University community together to honour and acknowledge Country, cultural knowledge and learning. Yungkurrinthi Inparrila is a special place where the community can foster belonging, learn, relax, celebrate, and gather,” said Associate Professor Tur.
Professor Colin Stirling, President and Vice Chancellor, reflected on the unique role the Inparrila will play in fostering cultural connectedness.
“What has become apparent to me is the deep and heartfelt significance of this meeting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and community. Unlike an office or a building, Yungkurrinthi Inparrila is connected to Country, carrying cultural and spiritual significance,” said Professor Stirling.
The wet weather held off long enough for guests to be able to venture to Yungkurrinthi Inparrila, where they took part in a traditional Smoking Ceremony, performed by Uncle Mickey (main image).
Yungkurrinthi (yoong-or-in-thi) means to ‘impart knowledge communicate and inform’ and Inparrila (in-bar-illa) means ‘meeting place’ in Kaurna.
Yungkurrinthi Inparrila would not have been possible without the generous support of the late Ms Shirley Mathews, a former Flinders student, who left a considerable bequest to the University and it’s this generosity which has enabled Yungkurrinthi Inparrila to become a reality.
To honour Ms Mathews, a plaque was unveilled to ensure that future generations of the Flinders community will remember her generous contribution to the University.
Professor Stirling thanked the many individuals involved in making Yungkurrinthi Inparrila possible.
“Thank you to James Tylor and Samantha Rich for the concept of the Wardli, and thank you to WAX Design, SARAH Constructions and Iguana Creative – who have worked with our community to ensure that this space meets all the cultural, design and logistic requirements of the project. Thank you also to the Flinders University Properties, Facilities and Development team for their support and assistance in managing the project from inception two years ago.
“And finally, thank you to the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement who have been the driving force behind the project, and have created a truly remarkable space for our University.”