Griffith celebrates the first teachers, artists, scientists and healers

While the pandemic has made physical gatherings more difficult, 2020 NAIDOC Week has been celebrated across Griffith, albeit more virtually than in previous years.

Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Cindy Shannon and Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans released a joint NAIDOC Statement to support the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have occupied and cared for Australian lands and seas.

“We recognise the unique place of First Peoples in our history and culture and the importance of respecting Indigenous knowledge, culture and talent,” an excerpt of the statement read.

“First Peoples are the first teachers, artists, scientists and healers on this land.

“In 2020 and beyond, Griffith is committed to maintaining an open dialogue and strengthening its relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and continuing to respect the wisdom of elders.”

Read the full NAIDOC statement

The launch of an exciting collaboration between Griffith University’s School of Education and Professional Studies and the Kombumerri people kickstarted NAIDOC Week celebrations on Monday at Southport State High School.

The Queensland Department of Education was also involved in the unique Kombumerri Together project, which will ensure Gold Coast students develop a greater understanding of the Kombumerri’s custodianship of the land on which the coast campus is located, with the development of a range of engaging video and other cultural tools for use by educators in local schools.

“This project has been driven by Gold Coast educators who were curious about how to respectfully embed Kombumerri histories and culture sensitively into the classroom,” Dean and Head of the School of EPS Professor Donna Pendergast said.

An excerpt from the new webpages

In another first for NAIDOC Week, Griffith Business School launched a new webpage to showcase its First People’s credentials and its new Bachelor of Business.

The new degree has been developed to introduce students to the importance of understanding First Peoples knowledge in a business context.

It has involved embedding Australia’s First Peoples history, knowledge and culture throughout most courses and was led and driven by the Business School’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Academic Director Dr Kerry Bodle, who also won Griffith’s 2019 Outstanding Indigenous Alumnus Award.

“Griffith is a leader in Australian universities to embed First Peoples history, knowledges and culture throughout its entire business program including its foundation, majors, mountain top and the Honours program. This was a strategic move designed to locate our students’ knowledge journey in this land,” she said.

A number of virtual events were also held during the week, including a live online Dialogue with the Author session which provided a chance to hear directly from Dr Debbie Bargallie about her book Unmasking the social contract. The book critically examines discrimination faced by Indigenous employees in the Australian Public Service.

The First People’s Health Unit presented NAIDOC Week-themed insights from Professor Sheena Reilly, Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) and special guest speakers, Professor Cindy Shannon, Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), Dr Clinton Schultz, Assistant Professor, First Peoples Health, Bond University and recently appointed CEO of CATSINaM Professor Roianne West, in a live webinar on Tuesday.

Dr Fiona Foley is recognised as one of the country’s leading First Nations researchers. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The Griffith Institute for Educational Research and the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research (GCSCR) hosted a showcase of research from three new First Nations academics, including QCA artist Dr Fiona Foley, Director of the Centre of Australian Indigenous Art, Dr Carol McGregor and criminologist Krystal Lockwood.

A Q&A was also led by Dr Harry van Issum, Indigenous Studies Senior Lecturer from the School of Humanities, Languages & Social Science, and member of GCSCR.

Greg Kitson

Other events included a two-hour webinar presentation by researcher Greg Kitson, who’s work forms part of an ARC Linkage project: Being ‘On Country Off Country.

An online GUMURRII trivia event was also held, providing an opportunity to test knowledge of First Peoples’ history and culture.