Message from the Vice-Chancellor and President
Launching the third iteration of the USC Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is very much a rite of passage for our university. Built on the initial two Plans, it provides an opportunity for us to reconfirm our commitment to reconciliation and indicates that we, as a university community, are ready to take that next step. Reconciliation is something that the USC community takes seriously.
It can be seen in the way staff have adopted the recommendations of the original RAPs and it's interesting to observe that having a "plan" makes it just that much easier for committed staff to get on board. There's the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other students and there's the subtle way USC campus development and the expansion of our art collection (e.g. the 2011 opening of the Ngabung Djamga Gallery in the Innovation Centre; the launch of the new Buranga Centre in 2014; or the public display of the John Mainwaring art collection in 2014) has a distinctive focus on, and valuing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Recognition of the Traditional Custodians of the country on which USC is located is now part of the USC way and in partnership with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and community has become standard practice for all university official events. The really empowering thing about this is the impact on our students. Whether Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander peoples, other Australians or international, the genuine partnership with the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi is something that USC students clearly value greatly. It bodes well for reconciliation both at home and abroad.
The launching of the new Plan comes at an interesting time for USC. The new Strategic Plan, together with substantial Commonwealth funding, commits USC to broadening its geographic footprint. While this is about creating a powerful university for the future that claims as its own territory from the north Brisbane corridor to Hervey Bay in the north, it has particular relevance for our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Indigenous representation in the local government areas to the north, south and west is double that of the Sunshine Coast. For a University that really takes reconciliation and making a difference seriously, this is a wonderful opportunity and challenge.