Aboriginal Engagement

UniSA has a strong equity mission and we were the first university in South Australia to have a Reconciliation Action Plan. We are determined to be the University of Choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and through true partnerships with Indigenous communities and organisations, we are developing a pipeline from high school through to postgraduate engagement, identifying the best and brightest young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2017 we are expanding our commitment to our relationships, respect and opportunities for Aboriginal people and cultures through the development of a “stretch” Reconciliation Action Plan in which we will commit to the objectives of the new Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy and set clear targets to make an impact, not just on Aboriginal people but to all the people with whom we engage.

Our Indigenous Education Statement (pdf 2MB)

Enhancing opportunities for Aboriginal leaders

UniSA and the Indigenous Defence Consortium are collaborating to advance and support business and education opportunities in defence industries for new generations of Aboriginal leaders. The IDC was established to help Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs capitalise on the National Innovation and Science agenda. UniSA is supporting skills development in areas such as science and systems engineering, business administration, supply chain management, business marketing and growth and entrepreneurship.

Scholarships and help for Aboriginal people

The Business School offers a dedicated scholarship for Aboriginal Australians to develop their careers as leaders and senior managers in business, government and industry.

UniSA GO Scholarships recognise outstanding academic merit by high-achieving Aboriginal students seeking to study at the University in a range of programs. The GO Scholarships expand the work of Adam Goodes’ and Mick O’Loughlin’s GO Foundation which delivers scholarships to Indigenous students in public schools.

The Aboriginal Tutoring Program (ATP) offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, free access to qualified tutors with skills and experience in a wide range of study areas.

UniSA is also a strong supporter of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) which provides a dynamic educational program that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students the skills, opportunities, belief and confidence to finish school at the same rate as their peers.

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

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

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

  • Our range of services

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welcome

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welcome to the new Vice Chancellor, Professor David G, Lloyd.

    Watch video

  • Indigenous Defence Consortium MoU

    Indigenous Defence Consortium MoU

    Adam Goodes signed a memorandum of understanding that will see UniSA support skills development through its educational offerings.

    Watch video

  • Scholarships for Indigenous staff

    Indigenous Staff Scholarships

    Designed for Indigenous staff who actively encourage Indigenous students to enter tertiary study.

    Scholarship info

  • commitment to Indigenous education though Horizon 2020

    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


Areas of study and research

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