VC's Update - National Sorry Day and our commitment

26 May 2017

ANU will graduate more Indigenous students, undertake game-changing research and work with Indigenous community to ensure we are helping deliver the changes they want.

Good afternoon,

Today marks 20 years since the tabling of the Bringing Them Home Report. The report marked a turning point in this nation's history and is a tribute to the strength and struggles of Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. Today the University community paused to reflect on this very dark time in our nation's history.

At today's National Sorry Day Address I had the chance to listen to a speech by Damien Miller, former Ambassador to Denmark and the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed as head of an overseas mission. He spoke of his grandmother's removal from her family in Central Queensland and how this has affected his family and his life.

As Indigenous leaders meet this week at Uluru to hold their First Nations Convention we need to consider what we can do as a University to support their efforts to end the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In giving my vote of thanks to Damien, I reaffirmed the University's commitment to reconciliation by promising to review our Reconciliation Action Plan and take real steps toward the advancement of Australia's Indigenous peoples. ANU will graduate more Indigenous students, undertake game-changing research and work with Indigenous community to ensure we are helping deliver the changes they want.

On Saturday it will be 50 years since Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were recognised as Australian citizens and next month Australians will pause to reflect on the historic Mabo decision 25 years on. In a month of important milestones ANU is focusing on the successes of our Indigenous staff, students and alumni by sharing their stories and holding a range of events and activities. I strongly encourage you to visit the Reconciliation Week website and participate where you can.

In other news for the week, it was terrific to join in the celebration to farewell Union Court on Thursday. It felt strange and somewhat liberating to spray paint a message on university property - I swear this was my first and likely only time to do so. Check out some of the photos and messages from staff and students. Thanks to PARSA and ANUSA for organising.

Important University business was conducted at the National Library of Australia this week when I joined an impressive group of three-year-olds to read them a picture book about a cow's many attempts to jump over the moon. As an astronomer I felt I was eminently qualified to share this story with these young minds.

Of course, Council met today and we bid a very fond farewell to outgoing Pro-Chancellor Robin Hughes. Robin has made an incredible contribution to council for the last 13 years and as pro-chancellor for the last three years. On behalf of the University we thank her for her wisdom and counsel. Naomi Flutter who has been on Council since 2014 has agreed to take on the role of Pro Chancellor. We look forward to her contribution in this new role.

We have had some outstanding successes this week and in no particular order I like to congratulate Asmi Wood who has been awarded a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy; the School of Music on the opening of the new music recording studio;  the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research who will be working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Macquarie Dictionary Publishers to produce a second edition of the Macquarie Atlas of Indigenous Australia; and former Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb AC on his election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

I hope you all have a great weekend.