Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Reconciliation Action Plan 2018

Celebrating NAIDOC week 2018 at Charles Sturt University – ‘BECAUSE OF HER WE CAN!’

Engage in NAIDOC Week Events at Charles Sturt University from the 8 - 15 July 2018!

There will be a range of activities across campuses and NAIDOC awards will be presented at each campus in line with the theme – ‘Because of Her We Can’.  Anybody can nominate – staff, students and community.  Please help by nominating and participating in the significant events during NAIDOC week.

National Reconciliation Week 2018

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

‘Our CSU RAP … moving into 2018’

The RAP Working Groups

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.

Student engagement in the Working Groups

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’.

Community Conversations (moving toward consultation)

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’.

Consider these ideas as we continue on the Reconciliation Journey

‘Charlie – Your Student Voice’ article written by student and RAP Working Group Member April Phillips.