Griffith walks the talk for National Reconciliation Week

Griffith staff and students participate in the 2021 National Reconciliation Week 'walk and talk' activity on Thursday 27 May.

Griffith University is leading the way in creating meaningful educational and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – walking the talk for National Reconciliation Week.   

Staff and students will come together for a series of events across all five campuses, including market days, the annual ‘walk and talk’ from Mt Gravatt campus to Nathan, reconciliation concerts and film screenings. 

Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans

The program of events celebrates strides already made towards reconciliation and maps out the journey to a more just, equitable Australia. 

Griffith University Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans said everyone had a role to play in the reconciliation process. 

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to gather together on campus once again to celebrate National Reconciliation Week,” Professor Evans said.

“This year marks almost three decades of the formal reconciliation process in Australia. 

“We recognise that reconciliation is a shared process and every Griffith student and staff member can help create a better, more inclusive Australia.” 

“We acknowledge the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Griffith’s history and culture and the importance of respecting their knowledge, culture and talent.  

“We are also taking action to create a strong framework to teach Indigenous content, ensure cultural competency in our degrees and increase our number of Indigenous academic and professional staff.  

“It is vital that we maintain an open dialogue and continue to strengthen our relationship with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to achieve this.” 

Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art student Dylan Sarra

Griffith has one of the largest Indigenous-student populations of any Queensland university, and the second largest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic staff in Australia. 

Queensland College of Art student Dylan Sarra is completing a Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art at Griffith.

The proud Gooreng Gooreng man has just been nominated for a Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and said Reconciliation Week was a chance to acknowledge the past and shape the future. 

“Every week should be Reconciliation Week, but it’s nice to come together to reflect on our country’s history and share our stories,” he said. 

Griffith’s first Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Cindy Shannon

“For me, art is the perfect vehicle to start those conversations about reconciliation and help educate people about the issues.” 

Griffith University Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), Professor Cindy Shannon said the University’s rich and diverse history made it a natural champion for reconciliation.  

 She said it was vital Griffith continued to make impactful change to promote a better future for all. 

“I think we’re a long way down the path to reconciliation and we’ve achieved some wonderful outcomes,” Professor Shannon said. 

“Last year, Griffith University graduated more First Nations students than any other university in Queensland.” 

“We need to make sure we continue to attract, support and graduate Indigenous students. Ensuring what we teach and how we teach indigenous issues is another important element.  

“It’s about thinking what we can do to contribute practically to reconciliation in this country.” 

Indigenous Research Unit (IRU) Director Dr Bianca Beetson said Griffith had a key role to play in the reconciliation process by strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people in Australia. 

“Education is key to creating understanding,” Dr Beetson said. 

Indigenous Research Unit (IRU) Director Dr Bianca Beetson

“Griffith has made a significant investment in First Nations people across the University, and that has included strengthening the First Nations voice and giving us a seat at the table. 

“We’ve also made leaps and bounds in the Indigenous research space and have started creating pathways for First Nations students into academia and opportunities to collaborate with industry partners.” 

This year is the 15th anniversary of the launch of Griffith’s Statement on Reconciliation – a public declaration of the university’s commitment to promoting an environment that values the traditions, protocols and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

In the years since then, Griffith has established a network designed to support First Nations peoples, including the GUMURRII Student Support UnitIndigenous Research Unit (IRU), Office of Indigenous Community Engagement, Policy and Partnerships (ICEPP) and the first Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous). 

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2021 is ‘More than a Word’ and the week is bookended by two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey, the successful 1967 referendum (May 27) and the High Court Mabo decision (June 3). 

Staff and students can register for events online.