24 June 2015
To provide a bit of a background, as I think all of you here today would know, I have a very strong personal commitment to reconciliation and ensuring USC becomes an exemplar university as far as recognition of Indigenous Australians is concerned and in progressing their educational aspirations and access to university.
One of the things we have introduced in recent years is the Indigenous early career academic and administrative, professional and technical (APT) staff programmes. Advertising positions each year so that over time we have indigenous staff working right across the institution.
We recruited Chris (Mr McGregor) through this program – in fact I think he was the first new staff member recruited for the APT stream. He’s a USC graduate in business and is building his career in the Human Resources cost centre. He’s a terrific graduate, a wonderful citizen of USC and we’ve also discovered he’s a very talented artist.
Mark Nugent, the Director of HR, was telling me one day that as part of the Close the Gap campaign for 2015, Chris had volunteered to complete a painting that would be a focal point for HR staff. Never one to miss an opportunity, I suggested to Mark that this was rather selfish of HR and that they might consider sharing this initiative with the broader university community. As you see he and Chris thought this was a good idea so here we are today.
As part of the process I was asked if I would put a mark on the painting. I agreed and started to fret about what I’d add – now my personal totem with the Mak Mak clan from the NT is the kangaroo ancestor, so given I can’t draw to save myself I started practising drawing simple kangaroo tracks. But no.
When Chris turned up to get my bit he had other plans. That hand print at the centre of the work is mine. It’s part of an extremely complicated and sophisticated storyline that Chris has written through this art work.
And I think now is the right time to hand over to Chris to explain how it all fits together. I’m sure you’ll find it a truly engaging and inspiring piece of work.
Image: Chris MCGREGOR, University Dreaming. University Dreaming is on permanent display in the Chancellery