Aboriginal Engagement

Throughout this page, the term “Aboriginal’ refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, collectively.

UniSA is the University of Choice for Aboriginal Peoples. Since its founding, UniSA has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to Aboriginal engagement through its founding act and important initiatives such as the Aboriginal Taskforce, Australia’s first Aboriginal Tertiary Program, and Aboriginal Studies programs. UniSA was the first university in South Australia to have a Reconciliation Action Plan, a guiding document to advance reconciliation across the organisation. Professor Irene Watson, the University’s inaugural Pro Vice Chancellor: Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy and David Unaipon Chair is leading the development of our second Reconciliation Action Plan, in which we will commit to the objectives of the new Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy, 2017-2020 and set clear targets for Aboriginal engagement including student recruitment and completion rates, employment numbers, and ensuring that Aboriginal cultural content is an integral part of the curriculum.

We are committed to strengthening our position as the University of Choice for Aboriginal Peoples by creating an environment where Aboriginal students and staff can learn, grow and define the future in a place that acknowledges, respects and learns from Aboriginal wisdoms, and celebrates the pursuit of knowledge in all its guises. UniSA understands that this requires true partnerships with Aboriginal communities and organisations.

Student Engagement

Wirringka Student Services offers Aboriginal students a friendly, comfortable and supportive place to study on each campus. There is an Aboriginal Student Engagement Officer on each campus who is available to answer questions and provide assistance with navigating your University experience, applying for scholarships, and pursuing your academic goals.

The Aboriginal Tutoring Program (ATP) offers Aboriginal students free access to qualified tutors with skills and experience in a wide range of study and research areas. Tuition includes areas including program content, time management, academic writing, essay planning and referencing skills.

Aboriginal Pathway Program (APP) is a one and a half year program that supports students with no previous qualifications for university study. The program is open to all people who identify as Aboriginal and can lead to entry into a university degree at the University of South Australia.

Our 2016 Indigenous Education Statement
Our 2015 Indigenous Education Statement
Our 2014 Indigenous Education Statement

Staff and Employment

UniSA has a long-standing aim that Aboriginal Peoples comprise at least 2% of its workforce and is committed  to improving employment opportunities, supporting professional development, and creating a culturally safe and supportive workplace for Aboriginal staff members. Our workforce participation target is guided by an array of policies and a rolling employment strategy; Yaitya Warpulai Tappa (Indigenous Work Path).

Partnerships

AIME
Since 2013, UniSA has partnered with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) to provide a mentoring program that supports Aboriginal high school students to develop the skills, opportunities, belief and confidence in their cultural safety to finish school. Every year, hundreds of Aboriginal high school students are mentored by UniSA volunteer mentors. Guided by the values of ‘Indigenous = Success’ and ‘No Shame at AIME’, AIME have demonstrated their ability to dramatically improve the number of Aboriginal students that finish school. In 2015, UniSA’s long-term commitment to the partnership with AIME was consolidated through the signing of a 10-year Mutual Statement of Commitment.

GO Foundation
UniSA GO Scholarships recognise outstanding academic merit by high-achieving Aboriginal students seeking to study at the University in a range of programs. Adam Goodes’ and Mick O’Loughlin’s GO Foundation partners with organisations to create opportunities for Aboriginal youth through education. The UniSA GO scholarship ($6000 a year, up to four years) expands the work of GO Foundation with the support of the South Australian Government.

Indigenous Defence Consortium
UniSA and the Indigenous Defence Consortium are collaborating to create opportunities and pipelines for Aboriginal students to enter the Aboriginal business sector. Through this partnership, UniSA is supporting skills development in areas such as science and systems engineering, business administration, supply chain management, business marketing and growth and entrepreneurship.

Reconciliation
UniSA is committed to promoting reconciliation to deepen the respect and relationships between Aboriginal People and other groups within the university. We understand that reconciliation encourages cultural change that will deliver better opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal staff and students.

The first time a Vice Chancellor has been welcomed to South Australian lands by the traditional owners at a university graduation ceremony.

New leader of Aboriginal leadership and engagement

Professor Irene Watson

In 2016 Professor Irene Watson was appointed Pro Vice Chancellor for Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy and Unaipon Chair, a new senior management position created to further enhance the University’s commitment to Aboriginal engagement. Professor Watson has responsibility for leading the development of a whole-of-institution approach to the recruitment, support, retention and success of Aboriginal people at UniSA.

A Tanganekald, Meintangk-Bunganditj woman, solicitor, representative for First Nations Peoples at the United Nations and researcher, Professor Watson will provide strategic leadership and advice to staff at the University to develop the kinds of relationships across the community – in business, government and professional bodies – that support Aboriginal student and staff engagement.

Professor Watson graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Adelaide and received the Bonython Law School prize for her doctoral thesis in 2000.

She was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship by the University of Sydney and took up an appointment with UniSA in 2008.

Since 1989, Prof Watson has taught in all three South Australian universities and she continues to combine teaching with academic research today.

In 2013, she received an ARC Indigenous Discovery Award and has completed the project – Indigenous Knowledge: Law, Society and the State.

Prof Watson has published extensively in both law and Indigenous Knowledges and recently completed two books Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law, (Routledge 2015) and Indigenous Peoples as Subjects in International Law. (Routledge 2016).

She has had a close relationship with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia since its inception in 1973, serving as a member, solicitor and director.

She served as a front-line solicitor advising the legal service on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and has advised numerous communities across Australia on law and justice issues.

Since the 1990s, Professor Watson has made a number of interventions on behalf of First Nations Peoples to the United Nations and she continues to attend UN meetings as an invited expert on the rights of First Nations Peoples.

Our commitment to Indigenous education

  • Wirringka Student Services

    Wirringka Student Services

    Wirringka Student Services offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students a friendly, comfortable and supportive place to study.

    Find out more

  • Aboriginal Employment

    Aboriginal Employment

    A workplace that values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and heritage

    Download brochure

  • Reconciliation Action Plan

    Reconciliation Action Plan

    Building on a framework provided by Reconciliation Australia, have worked together to craft our first RAP and to explore what reconciliation means in a modern university

    Download

  • Deadly alumni

    Deadly alumni

    The Deadly Alumni is an initiative led by the Dean: Indigenous Scholarship, Engagement and Research, Professor Peter Buckskin.

    Find out more

Areas of study and research

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