UNE’s involvement with Indigenous community members in working toward this goal

Welcome to Country presented by Aboriginal community members or Acknowledgement of Country is a quality standard in UNE official proceedings including meetings of the UNE Council and its Committees, Graduation Ceremonies, Orientation and other major events through Schools and Directorates.

The annual Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture and NAIDOC Ceremony are two key UNE events in the University’s community engagement, coordinated by Oorala with UNE. Both events involve a high level of Aboriginal community protocol and participation in their official proceedings and associated activities. Established in 1986, the Archibald Lecture is Australia’s longest running university lecture in honour of an Aboriginal person and is dedicated to Mr Frank Archibald, a revered Aboriginal community member of the Armidale area, as well as his descendants and Aboriginal people of the New England region.

Several UNE research projects specifically relate to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander issues and culture, linking with UNE curriculum and extensive community involvement. One example is the ARC research project which had commenced in 2012 on 'Indigenous heritage: working ancient wetlands for social benefit and cultural understanding' which focuses on the local New England region, and its archaeology. This research is being carried out in partnership with a number of Local Aboriginal Land Councils and in 2014 involved field trips to sites of significance with participation from UNE’s Archaeology discipline, Aboriginal cultural advisors and young Aboriginal people engaging in training and education.

UNE’s Indigenous Education Research Network (IERN) lead by academics in the School of Education during 2014 worked in partnership with Oorala, an Aboriginal Advisory Group and researchers from other UNE Schools, to align SOE’s research with Aboriginal-determined priorities. The IERN has worked towards addressing areas such as greater inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives in the Teacher Education curriculum, and how research, pedagogical and institutional practices engage with Indigenous knowledges. The Network also supports development of relevant research projects by SOE staff and HDR students, building research capacity that will contribute to addressing Indigenous disadvantage in education. Projects in 2014 included:

  • Study of retention of Aboriginal teacher education students - MATSITI funded project involving quantitative and qualitative surveys of about student experiences
  • Reconstructing the Lower Southern Aranda/Wangkangurru Identity: Post-colonial approaches to Indigenous knowledge and learning, in partnership with Aranda/Wangkangurru communities in South Australia/NT
  • Aboriginal adult literacy campaign evaluation/longitudinal study – a partnership with the Literacy for Life Foundation and participating communities in western NSW
  • “Have we met before?”: Historical Consciousness and education research in Aboriginal Communities, involving an Aboriginal researcher to collect oral histories of UNE’s involvement with Aboriginal community development and community education in the 1960s and 1970s

UNE has been awarded an Australian Government grant to manage a Collaborative Research Network (CRN) on Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities, in collaboration with four partner universities and Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD). The CRN involves Research Services with a number of UNE Schools with research interests related to mental health and well-being in building links with rural communities and health providers and a focus on three thematic areas. For example one of School of Health’s core research areas in the CRN is ‘Improving health and well-being of rural and regional communities, including Indigenous communities’.