As an inaugural winner of a Flinders Reconciliation Award, Julie Rayner is a champion of embracing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, knowledges and cultures. We sat down with her to chat about her award winning engagement programs, and asked her about her self-confessed podcast obsession.
What do you do at Flinders, and what does that entail?
I am the Executive Officer (EO) in the Office of the Vice President (Corporate Services), working with Mark Gregory and Joy Buillitis. Before this, I was the Executive Officer in the Colleges of Education, Psychology and Social Work, and Business, Government and Law.
Being an EO is busy and varied – I suppose you could say that it entails pretty much anything! I could be doing anything from supporting the COVID-19 Taskforce to helping administer the CIP process.
My role is also responsible for managing the fabulous team of six Portfolio Support Officers and a growing number of Indigenous Student Corporate Services Assistants.
How did you end up working at Flinders University?
After a short career in banking and finance combined with lots of travel, I came to Flinders as what used to be called a ‘mature age student’. When Flinders was installing a new Enrolment system, they advertised for student casuals to help out temporarily. That was, ahem, some time ago. Since then, I have moved across many different areas just before people get sick of me!
What is the best part about your work?
I like the variety of things EO’s do – it is a generalist position, and you never know what might come up. This is a challenge in terms of shifting priorities, but I love that every day is different. It is also interesting to work on things that stretch across the institution and with other University leaders. The best part is to be able to come in every day and be clear on what part I play in moving Flinders forward.
Last year you won a Flinders Reconciliation Award. Tell us a little about your advocacy and commitment to Reconciliation.
I was lucky enough in EPSW to be able to employ and mentor Flinders Indigenous students through the Careertrackers program. Having Indigenous students involved in our professional staff units is of benefit to the whole Flinders community. When I moved to Corporate Services, I wanted to see if we could initiate a successful Indigenous Student employment program with a particular focus on providing interesting stable and paid work to enrich students’ educational experience. It has been fantastic to see students thrive as they learn from our dedicated and outstanding professional staff. Two of these students have produced a fantastic video about their experience and how much they’ve enjoyed being part of the Flinders team and areas in Corporate Services have embraced the idea of working with our students.
As an advocate, what is one thing you’d like everyone to know about Reconciliation?
Reconciliation is meaningful in many ways to different people. But to me, acknowledging this diversity, I like to think of it as better knowing and understanding our First Nations friends and colleagues’ culture and experience. There is no better time for non-Indigenous Australians to access information and experiences to improve their understanding of Indigenous culture and history or listen more deeply to our Indigenous community. This is available to everyone. Understanding which First Nations’ peoples land you live and work on, experiencing language, supporting Indigenous businesses and creators, attending the RAP events Flinders delivers can all help us understand how we can contribute to a better future for all Australians.
What are you most proud of?
An ability to maintain and grow strong relationships and, conversely, to operate well in a crisis! Families give you lots of practice in crisis management. I am grateful that my small family is bolstered by a large community of what I call fr-amily– some of which I have been friends with since primary school. Relationships are to me my most important work. It is so rewarding, although it is not always easy…
How do you like to relax and spend your spare time?
There really isn’t a lot of spare time in the Vice President (Corporate Services) office! But my family thinks my podcast obsession is out of control. They could be right…
I love reading autobiographies, going to the movies (yes in the dark with other people!), cooking and entertaining. Cooking for others is all about building memories with the people you love – and there is nothing more relaxing than that!