9 March 2017
USC has reaffirmed its commitment to growing enrolments and lifting the success rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as Australia’s universities launch a national strategy setting ambitious targets for Indigenous participation rates.
The Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy seeks to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in university by 50 per cent above the growth rate of non-Indigenous students.
The plan was unveiled last week at the Australian Universities Higher Education Conference in Canberra attended by USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill and other senior members of the University’s executive.
Professor Hill said USC had already made significant gains towards the goals outlined in the strategy, which also commits to improving the environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at university, and promoting the understanding of Indigenous culture.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student admissions have increased significantly with more than 300 students across USC’s campuses and study hubs, and our students are exceeding both state and national performance data for success.”
He said USC’s new Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan adopted a whole of University approach and reflected USC’s active commitment to advancing the educational and employment opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Launched in time for the start of the academic year, the Reconciliation Action plan provides an overarching framework to embed Indigenous-specific initiatives and actions within day-to-day practice across the University.
“This strategy provides all students with the opportunity to encounter and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives developed over many thousands of years as an integral part of their program of study,” Professor Hill said.
“Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, land, cultures and histories is critical to working together for better outcomes for all Australians and achieving our commitment to advance human rights within a tolerant and inclusive society.”
Key actions from the plan include:
• Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to be in direct proportion to the Indigenous student population
• Additional academic courses promoting increased awareness and understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and achievements
• Naming University places and spaces with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words or terms
The plan also includes celebrating and recognising Indigenous dates of significance and events such as National Reconciliation Week and Close the Gap.
USC will hold Close the Gap events at its four campuses on Thursday 16 March with activities to support the national awareness day that aims to improve Indigenous life expectancy, educational achievement and employment outcomes.
— Clare McKay