AEP Goal 1: Participation in educational decision-making
1. Establish effective arrangements for the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in educational decision-making.
Your response to this goal needs to address but is not limited to the following points:
- The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved in institutional governance and decision-making bodies and processes and the nature of their involvement, i.e. memberships on boards, committees etc.
- If there is no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership on key governance and decision making bodies, please provide an explanation.
- The roles and responsibilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders within your institution.
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved in institutional governance and decision-making bodies and processes and the nature of their involvement at UNE
Encouraging and increasing Indigenous representation within governing and decision-making bodies, such as the University of New England (UNE) Council, Academic Board and other University Committees, as well as in management positions, is a core focus for UNE. Organisational commitment to this is expressed in the Compact and operationalised through the UNE Regional Aboriginal Higher Education Strategy.
Effective participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on decision-making bodies and in decision-making processes as part of the institutional governance of the University is found within the following positions and the 2015 representation is set out below:
- The UNE Council has two Aboriginal members:
- Aboriginal student as the elected UNE Undergraduate Student Representative, and
- Aboriginal member as a ministerial appointee.
- The Infrastructure Committee of the UNE Council includes the Aboriginal ministerial Council appointee as a member
- Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) is the University Ethics Committee which approves all research ethics applications related to research on human subjects. This Committee includes three places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives who vet and approve all applications with Indigenous content, in accordance with NHMRC, ARC and related policies and legislation. These members have power of veto over all aspects of any Indigenous research applications from UNE and advise the Chair on all matters relating to the conduct of Indigenous research at UNE.
- Directorship of the Oorala Aboriginal Centre
- The role of the Indigenous Academic Advisor, Oorala
- University Teaching and Learning Committee (previously known as Academic T&L Committee) (1): Indigenous Academic member of staff
- Four Aboriginal staff members sit on UNE’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Governance Committee.
- The School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Science (BCSS) invited a local Aboriginal Clinical and Counselling Psychologist to be a member of the Clinical Psychology Advising Liaison Committee that meets twice yearly.
- The School of Arts Strategic Plan 2012–2015 includes the objective “4. Promote improved student access to higher education opportunities from diverse groups and encourage social inclusiveness.” One of the strategies to achieve this objective is “4.4 Collaborate with Oorala on enhanced integration.” During 2015 the Head of School collaborated with the Director of Oorala and the Deputy Director of Research Services about the establishment of 4 designated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Creative Practice HDR Scholarships (which have been filled).
- School of Law Advisory Board (1) Oorala Director as Indigenous Academic Advisor.
- School of Law Teaching & Learning Committee (1) Oorala Director Oorala Indigenous Academic Advisor
- Social Work External Advisory Committee (1) Oorala Indigenous Academic Advisor
- Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Communication Day (previously known as VC’s Committee) (1) Oorala Indigenous Academic Advisor/Director Oorala
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Governance Committee (2) Oorala Indigenous Academic Advisor and UNE Aboriginal Employment Officer.
- Council of Heads of School (1) Director, Oorala
- Enrolment Steering Committee (1): Oorala Student Services Manager
- Student Administration & Services Forums (1): Oorala Student Services Manager.
- Expressions of interest were advertised in 2015 for permanent members of the University Teaching and Learning Committee from permanent and fixed-term academic staff who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
In addition to the above, non-Indigenous Oorala staff represented the Centre as nominees to the following due to their professional roles:
- School of Education Teaching and Learning Committee (1) Senior Lecturer, Oorala
- Library Advisory Committee, Dixson Library (1): Lecturer
- First-year Experience Committee (1): Lecturer
- UNE’s WH&S Working Group, HR User Group and Finance User Group (1): Resource & Compliance Officer.
- The University’s academic schools take advice from advisory committees with both internal and external representation (depending upon purpose) at the school, discipline or course level. This is designed to ensure that perspectives and needs of key stakeholders are included. For example, the School of Health consults and reviews with its External Advisory Committees on the development of nursing and counselling curricula; the relevant Nursing Committee includes Indigenous representation from UNE and the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN).
If there is no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership on key governance and decision-making bodies, please provide an explanation.
In addition to the formal representation outlined above there are opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to be members of other University committees, including the Academic Board. However, as staff are not required to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, the representation will not be identified as such.
The roles and responsibilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders within UNE
The roles and responsibilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at UNE is to provide advice and input on matters related to UNE’s governance, strategies, policies and procedures as a higher educational institution.
- The two Aboriginal appointments to the UNE Council continued in 2015, being among the 17 members of the UNE Council who are responsible for the governance of the University and are involved in the decision-making and overseeing of UNE’s operations for the benefit of its students, staff, academic community and the wider community as a whole.
- The role of the Director of the Oorala Aboriginal Centre includes leadership at UNE through involvement in committees and high level liaison with Schools and Directorates on matters and issues that relate to academic support and outcomes in recruitment, access, participation, retention and completion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in higher education, as well as providing strategic direction for the Centre’s role in the University’s community and student engagement, academic programs and cultural competency. The Director’s role was vacant during most of 2015, with a new Director recruited in November.
- The role of Indigenous Academic Advisor at Oorala Aboriginal Centre was established in 2015 for leadership on academic matters at Oorala, for the interim period whilst the Director’s position was vacant.
- The role of Elder-in-Residence continued to represent Oorala and UNE in 2015. Local Aboriginal community leaders, including Oorala’s Elder-in-Residence, are invited by UNE schools and directorates to provide consultation and participation in protocols for official events, programs and projects, including Welcome to Country and incorporation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.
- A new Indigenous pre-graduation sashing ceremony for all Indigenous graduates has been adopted in the Autumn graduation season, involving participation by the Elder-in-Residence, Oorala Director and other staff and students.
- The Vice-Chancellor’s Aboriginal Research Fellow appointed in 2013, who is an Aboriginal academic seconded from Oorala, continued through 2015 to advise on a number of UNE research projects.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from Oorala and across the University are involved extensively in engaging with community groups in the region, providing valuable expertise to the University, gained through their academic and professional experience and community engagement. These staff provided input on UNE employment and student support matters.
- The Aboriginal Employment Officer develops and maintains relationships with the community and represents UNE on government and community organisations and sits on the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Governance Committee that oversees its implementation.
- In 2015 the Indigenous Student Association continued to be active at UNE, progressing in its goal to advance Indigenous student representation on student and UNE committees.
- Steve Widders, an Anaiwan elder, is an honorary patron of the School of Education. He provides advice to the Head of School, and is guest speaker at the first School meeting each year and on other significant occasions. An Oorala representative is invited to School meetings and has a seat on the School’s Teaching and Learning Committee.
Oorala Aboriginal Centre’s role in educational decision-making
The Director, Elder-in-Residence and other staff of Oorala, throughout 2015, maintained involvement in several groups engaging with the community and the higher education sector. The Director was also involved in consultation and decision-making at UNE through several University committees, boards and working parties, as listed above.
In the broader higher education sector Oorala represented UNE on:
- The National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC) (2): Oorala Director and Oorala Elder-in-Residence. The Indigenous Academic Advisor also attended during the interim period when the Oorala Director’s position was vacant.
- The National Indigenous Elders Think Tank (1): Oorala Elder-in-Residence
Across the local community Oorala’s participation by Aboriginal staff included:
- Gayinyaga Aboriginal Advisory Committee (1)
- Local Armidale lnter-agency Committee (1)
- East Armidale Community Garden Project (2)
- Armidale Clontarf Academy Awards Night (2)
- Regular informal discussions between Oorala staff and key members of the local Aboriginal community.