Diversity Week Opening Address - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Diversity Week Opening Address

26 Aug 2016

26 August 2016

Good Morning Distinguished Guests, Staff, Students and Members of our Community.

Welcome to the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Diversity Week Celebrations and thank you for your attendance at the breakfast today.

Before I proceed any further, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to the elders both past and present, and to the emerging future leaders. The University of the Sunshine Coast acknowledges the Gubbi Gubbi people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the Sippy Downs campus stands, and recognises the strength, resilience and capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the land. I welcome Lyndon Davis along with Jandamarra Cadd and their families here today.

On that note, I would like to introduce Lyndon Davis who will give a Welcome to Country. Lyndon is from the Mooloolah River, Gubbi Gubbi country and delivers cultural awareness to schools through the region. Lyndon reports that putting Aboriginal people and their culture in the spotlight in a positive way is what he finds most satisfying about his work. Lyndon says “…. you should never forget who you are or where you come from”, and this certainly resonates with the University’s celebration of Diversity Week.

The Diversity Week celebrations commence here today with this year’s theme “Together we will grow” and I am pleased to announce that University of the Sunshine Coast’s Diversity Week is being celebrated across our Sippy Downs, Fraser Coast, SouthBank and Gympie campuses. The University of the Sunshine Coast is proud of the diversity that exists amongst our students, our staff and our community and this week we celebrate that diversity that each of us brings to our workplace, our classrooms, and our community.

The University of the Sunshine Coast is committed to creating a work and study environment which values the rich diversity of its staff and students, facilitates equitable access and full participation for those from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are under-represented, and in which all members of the University community take personal responsibility for working to eliminate discriminatory practices.

The newly formed Access and Diversity Unit is actively involved in the development of initiatives and resources which aim to raise awareness of social justice principles, underpinning USC's evolution as a diversity capable institution which supports its staff and students in their personal and professional development.

Across our campuses and study sites, the USC community is working together to create an inclusive culture which:

  • encourages universal student engagement
  • improves retention; and
  • enhances the overall quality of the student experience.

The University of the Sunshine Coast is a proud signatory to the Australian Human Rights Commission campaign "Racism. It stops with me". The campaign is part of the National Anti-Racism Strategy which encourages us all to work together by taking action against racism, in all its different forms. The campaign partnership between government and non-government agencies has been extended, and USC has pledged to continue its support for the initiative by maintaining a number of activities which demonstrate our commitment to stamping out racism on campus and in our wider community.

USC has a long and proud history of working to make our organisation inclusive and free from racism. Ongoing work in this area includes:

  • NAIDOC Week activities coordinated by the Buranga Centre
  • Cultural awareness programs
  • Student Expectations and Responsibilities awareness-raising campaign
  • C-SALT's work on Indigenous Knowledge and the curriculum
  • An Indigenous Employment Strategy

The USC also has the Ally Network, a group of students and staff who have participated in training around working with people with sexual and gender diverse backgrounds and who may or may not identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex or Queer (LGBTIQ). The aim of the Ally Network is to advocate and support cultural change; build and support an advocacy network and help create a safe and inclusive and educational and work environment. The University provides training workshops throughout the year for staff and students.

The University also hold Cross Cultural Communication Workshops titled “Working with Culturally Diverse Clients” and these workshops are open to students and staff to attend and are held four times per year.

The University hosts a yearly Cultural Calendar which acknowledges significant religious and spiritual dates for USC staff, students and community.

Thank you for your attendance here today in support of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Diversity Week. Together We Will Grow.

Without further ado, it is my great pleasure to declare the University of the Sunshine Coast's Diversity Week officially launched.