Reconciliation defined... by Professor Jeannie Herbert AM, Pro-Vice Chancellor - Indigenous Education & Foundation Chair of Indigenous Studies.
CSU recently conducted an online survey of all Indigenous students, past and present, seeking views on Reconciliation and our Indigenous Education Strategy.
There was an impressive response that reflected a willingness to participate in a discussion about Reconciliation as well as a desire for and apparent belief that, individual perspectives would be heard. We are honoured by the response. The effort and depth of responses indicated this was no ordinary survey response, rather it reflected considerable personal and emotional investment.
What interest rate does CSU now offer on that investment? What rate of return on that investment? It is contingent upon us to work together to break through our limiting cumbersome administrative tools and forge a new approach to reconciliation, an approach that is active, visible and tangible.
While it was a great response, the survey did, however, reflect a considerable diversity of views regarding what exactly ‘reconciliation’ means. This poses a challenge for us if, as a university, we seek to respond effectively to what our Indigenous students, individually and collectively, envisage could or should come out of the reconciliation process.
By definition the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word reconciliation as “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another”. This is interesting. We use Reconciliation as a noun, often a Proper Noun; implying a place to arrive at. Yet we appear to be seeking to reconcile (verb). Is it that we think that the action of reconciling will enable us to find and feel compatibility?
Reconciling also involves mutual reciprocation and participation from all parties. It also suggests compromise – the realisation that while nothing can change the past, reconciliation could enable us to change the future. This is based upon an assumption that the future is not a place or a destination, rather it is an ongoing effort towards rapprochement.
Legislation, Policies and governance frameworks such as the CSU Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) can create the administrative structures but who are institutions and what is legislation? Institutions are only the people in them. Legislation is the law people must follow. The only way we can make reconciliation a living entity is through the daily actions and practices of people interacting.
Fortunately, there have been a series of legislative and historical structural changes in relation to Indigenous issues, in this country, in recent years. But how effective have these changes been in bringing about genuine reconciliation? It could be argued they have not been effective. Why?
Is it that we, as a Nation, have not taken the next step. We have not persisted in our attempts to turn the nouns into verbs – in asking ourselves daily, in everything we do and write . . . are we reconciling? As stated by one survey respondent “reconciliation should be about real action and not just pretty pictures and art work on NAIDOC Day”.
Think about how frequently the words trust, respect, understanding, working together, positive relationships . . . are used in discussing reconciliation. These are all action words. Our challenge, at CSU, is: “What do we need to do to enable the next stage of our reconciliation journey to be a meaningful, action based collaboration between all of our peoples.”
We know we can make this happen – together. Let’s do it!
When we have done this we will be able to set a high interest rate on our investment and previous experience assures us our returns will be manifold. Are you up for the journey?
Staff and student reflections
Since late November 2017, there have been three meetings for each Working Group and meetings with Co-Leads and the RAP Project Coordinator. Working Groups have shared questions, ideas and had discussions around where we see ‘Our CSU RAP’ heading. Co-Leads will now work towards populating a RAP template to include some initial ideas for RAP activities.
In early February, a call was put out to students through social media and DVC Students staff to encourage student participation in future meetings of the RAP Working Groups. Expressions of interest will close on 12 March. Already, a further six EOI’s have been submitted. This student input is essential to providing another perspective in the development of ‘Our CSU RAP’.
In February we held initial conversations with some communities, with more planned over the next few weeks. These early communications have provided an indication of some of the feedback that may come from community and how we proceed with more formal consultation. Engaging with Community early on in ‘Our CSU RAP’ development is proving an essential part of our commitment to genuine consultation.
In late 2017, consultation took place in Communities outside the CSU campus locations with Professor Jeannie Herbert. We will use the consolidated responses from these consultations to provide further input into ‘Our CSU RAP’.
‘Charlie – Your Student Voice’ article written by student and RAP Working Group Member April Phillips. http://charlie.student.csu.edu.au/2018/01/25/stand-strong-on-january-26/
'Our CSU RAP' is now formalised in the CSU Policy Library with the ‘Reconciliation Action Plan Steering Group – Membership and Terms of Reference’ officially approved, published and accessible.
This document provides an essential overview of the role and responsibilities of the RAP Steering Group and gives an insight into our journey to date and future activities.
'Our CSU RAP' Working Groups Announced
After an overwhelming response to the call for EOI's to contribute to the development of 'Our CSU RAP', we are pleased to announce the Co-Leads and Working Group members within each of the RAP themes – Respect, Relationships and Opportunities. The members will contribute a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills from across a range of areas within the University, including staff and students.
RAP Steering Group Members and Co-Leads will hold their first combined meeting on the 14 November to confirm the purpose and responsibility of the Working Groups. Meetings with each of the three Working Groups and the RAP Project Coordinator will commence the week of 20 November. From this point forward we anticipate the development of a draft version of 'Our CSU RAP' which will go out to consultation sessions at each of our main campuses in early 2018.
Current overview of the membership and structure of 'Our CSU RAP' Steering Group and Working Groups is represented below:
Calling for Expressions of Interest – 'Our CSU RAP' Working Groups
The RAP Steering Group would like to call for expressions of interest from staff and students who would like to contribute to the development of 'Our CSU RAP' by joining one of the Working Groups.
We strongly encourage both Indigenous Australian and non-Indigenous Australian staff and students to submit an expression of interest. It is critical to its success that 'Our CSU RAP' is a shared journey.
The RAP Working Groups will consider one of the three main focus areas within the RAP. These focus areas are:
Deliverables/outcomes in this area will focus on:
Creating relationships that are mutually respectful and beneficial within our Communities. Being inclusive of all members of our Community and everyone's ability to contribute to making a world worth living in.
E.g.: Reconciliation week and NAIDOC week activities and engagement; Develop engagement plans to work with Communities; Promotion of the RAP
Developing staff and students who are understanding of people and the world and can thus help create a world worth living in, believing in the value all people have to contribute.
E.g.: Cultural learning activities and increasing the awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; Acknowledgement and Welcome to Country protocols and standards for CSU; Ensure policies encourage participation in cultural celebrations/activities.
Providing opportunities that allow the development of leaders through education and employment opportunities who are inspiring and able to lead for futures generations, thus creating a world worth living in.
E.g.: Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, students, and research activities; accessing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers for business purposes.
It is important to note that each of these areas may well encompass deliverables that relate to students, staff, teaching, research and community and how we, as an organisation can put activities in place to encourage a pathway to reconciliation.
It is anticipated that each working group will meet on 2-3 occasions before the end of year. Meetings will be via videoconference.
If you are interested, please submit an expression of interest, via email to: email@example.com
Your expression of interest should include the following information:
Name; Position Title; Area of Employment or study; campus location; an indication of which RAP focus area you are interested in working with and a short paragraph (no more than 150 words) on your interest and commitment to 'Our CSU RAP' and what you believe you can bring to the working group.
Expression of Interest submissions must be received by COB Friday 15/9/17.
Further information on 'Our CSU RAP" can be found online.
On the 19th July, Tom and Hayley, members of the RAP team from Reconciliation Australia attended the Vice-Chancellor's Forum to provide Senior Staff with a broad overview of Reconciliation Action Plans. The presentation provided the opportunity to set the scene and provide some of the general information around RAP's. We are fortunate to be able to share the slides from the presentation with the broader CSU community.
Reconciliation Australia – Presentation to the Vice-Chancellor's Forum (19th July 2017)
RAP Steering Group – Members Announced
The RAP Steering Group has been put in place to oversee the final delivery of 'Our CSU Reconciliation Action Plan'. The Group Membership covers the key areas within the University with the first meeting going ahead on 31 August 2017. From this meeting we anticipate setting dates for further consultations and putting out a call for RAP Working Group Members who will focus on various areas of 'Our CSU RAP' and report to the RAP Steering Group.
Dr Stan Grant Junior, Chair of Indigenous Affairs at CSU – 'Reconciliation without rights is not true reconciliation'
There are various stages of RAP templates provided by Reconciliation Australia. Given the progress already made by CSU on Indigenous Australian programs/participation to date and in discussion with Reconciliation Australia, it was determined the INNOVATE RAP would be the most appropriate for us to use to develop Our CSU RAP.
There are four key focus areas for all RAP's:
The template also includes the content that must be included in the RAP for approval from Reconciliation Australia. This is the minimum requirement and our consultation sessions will provide opportunity for people to suggest more specific information for Our CSU RAP. For more information, please view the attached Innovate RAP Template.
Charles Sturt University would like to announce its commitment to the long overdue development of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
A draft RAP will be developed over the coming months with staff, students and community provided with opportunities across campuses to provide input. These consultations will focus on the content of the RAP, including current strategies/programs and further opportunities for growth, development and reconciliation at CSU. While the RAP will be overseen by a Working Group (details of membership will be announced later), it is intended the RAP will be ours and belong to the CSU community and broader communities in which we are located.
CSU has made progress toward Indigenous Australian programs/participation to date, but acknowledges we have a long way to go and the RAP is an integral part of this journey. Our RAP will not replace existing strategies or statements rather, it will consolidate what we are doing and provide further opportunities to move towards reconciliation.
The RAP will be developed under the guidance of Reconciliation Australia and more information about RAPs, Reconciliation Australia and their role can be found here: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/
The RAP Project Coordinator will be Catherine Maxwell, Indigenous Employment Coordinator at CSU. The Working Group will be co-chaired by Professor Jeannie Herbert AM, PVC Indigenous Education and Professor Mary Kelly, DVC (Research, Development & Industry).
For now, watch this space and details relating to consultation, development and progress will emerge later in the year. If you would like to share any activities in your area that can be included in the RAP or if you have general queries please contact Catherine Maxwell on firstname.lastname@example.org or 6933 2200.