Reconciliation Action Plan

Swinburne’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) builds on our long standing commitment, over two decades, to the education and training of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities.

Our vision

Swinburne will be a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their heritage, cultures and spirituality are valued, respected and celebrated.

Swinburne's vision for reconciliation is to create a university environment that builds on relationships based on knowledge sharing, mutual respect and understanding, and lifelong learning across all our core business areas, culture, research, teaching and learning, and engagement.

Our vision is to build a university culture that promotes and practically supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians to come together to learn and make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities. This can be achieved through collaborative and mutually beneficial research, teaching and learning activities, and engagement.

Specifically, our vision for Swinburne and its relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities is:

  • embedding reconciliation in the management and governance structures of the university
  • ensuring the culture of the university values and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures
  • increasing the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff
  • growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student enrolments, retentions and completions
  • engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations
  • developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, curriculums and pedagogies in teaching and learning
  • strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge in research.

View the Student Representative Council's 2014 statement of intent

The Student Representative Council at Swinburne University of Technology is committed to the successful realisation of Swinburne’s ‘Reconciliation Action Plan 2014 – 2015’, which was produced in consultation with Wurundjeri and other Indigenous Elders and community members and key Swinburne University staff members. We strongly support recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution, and we recognise and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which Swinburne sits. We thank the Wurundjeri people for their generosity and kindness in assisting Swinburne University to develop its Reconciliation Action Plan.

The Student Representative Council acknowledges that Indigenous knowledge is best led by Indigenous people, and that the diversity amongst Indigenous Australians is a great strength of Indigenous Australian cultures. As student representatives we are grateful that the Australian Government apologised to Indigenous Australians in 2008 for its actions, which resulted in the Stolen Generation. While solemnly acknowledging Indigenous Australians continue to confront horrific injustices, this statement seeks fore mostly to engage with Indigenous people, while acknowledging that their sharing of their experiences enables non-Indigenous Australians to understand Australia’s colonial past and move toward a deeper, more accurate, more holistic understanding of Australia.

We recognise the critical role that Indigenous languages play in enabling Indigenous cultures to flourish. We see it as a part of our positive duty to support non-Indigenous members of the university to understand why and how Indigenous Australians need to represent their own opinions and experiences within university operations. It is important to us that Swinburne University provides a safe and productive environment where these perspectives can prosper toward the regeneration of not only Indigenous Australian cultures, but also the broader Australian culture. This means supporting and promoting the self- representation of Indigenous Australians in authentic ways.

We greatly value the profound meaning contained in Indigenous engagement with nature. We recognise that this engagement is intricate and complex, and that it extends through the traditional Indigenous practices of science, business, art and technology. We consequently see the Indigenous principles of Know, Care, Respect and Share as they are taught in Fundamental Design Studio, a postgraduate unit of study at Swinburne University, as invaluable principles integral to the development of inter-cultural dialogue. We understand that these principles go to the core of research, education and practice, and we assert that the Indigenous Australian sense of belonging to, participation in and understanding of the life-giving processes of nature should be at the centre of the vision the university holds for its future.

These are the living principles and productive ground out of which students can grow. They bring meaning to actions and purpose to lives. Consequently, the SRC is currently respectfully incorporating Indigenous principles into the heart of its new ethics charter – a practical, measurable, engaging approach toward the realisation of community feeling and egalitarian leadership. ‘The SRC Ethics Charter’ will refer to Swinburne’s Reconciliation Action Plan, the Equal Opportunity Act Victoria 2010 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. It will provide students with the stability they need to construct, pronounce and defend fair arguments, as well as minimise harm and limit conflict. As a part of this we aim to establish sustainable structure whereby: firstly, ethical training ideally linking with empathy training will be provided to SRC members; and, secondly, local indigenous community groups and elders will be invited to provide student leaders with support and assistance to deliver student leadership that demonstrates understanding and application of Indigenous Knowledge. SRC will continue to have an advisory type group that focuses on Indigenous knowledge that will be open to Indigenous students not on the SRC, building connections, developing support and encouraging Indigenous students to represent their faculties throughout the coming years.

We appreciate that Indigenous understanding developed over more than 80,000 years of living on this land, and that it has resulted in unique insights into the connectedness of being. We see it as a part of our duty to assist all members of the Swinburne community to recognise the significance of this understanding. As they think of themselves in the full and decent humility of their day-to-day effort, we invite them to pause to envisage Indigenous men and women across time, women and men who, like them, have selflessly served their communities in countless acts of courage. We are committed to facilitating students to hear and enact the voice of Indigenous Knowledge as they approach critical choices and construct life plans, and we respectfully ask all Swinburne people to support and assist us in this.

We recognise that Indigenous cultures have developed their own practices of education that are just as committed to excellence and well-being as that of education institutions like Swinburne University of Technology. We acknowledge the hard work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders at Swinburne past and present, and we appreciate the time, effort and patience they have invested into the student council. We are honoured to have elders support the Swinburne Reconciliation Action Plan, and we look to them as leaders who we can turn to for inspiration and guidance. It is due to their kindness, tolerance and wisdom that we are able to be a part of a reconciliation action plan. We prize the human spirit that gave rise to it, and we honour the chance to help Swinburne’s Reconciliation Action Plan take root.

We greatly value the opportunity to work with Swinburne’s leaders as it deepens its commitment to the ongoing development of the Reconciliation Action Plan. We are committed to its development into further opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - their cultures, spiritualties and histories to be an integral part of the University. As leaders of the Student Representative Council, we see it as our duty to contribute to the development of a place where physical, emotional, psychological, social, spiritual and environmental responsibility take precedence. As we look to Swinburne’s leaders to empower these virtues, we acknowledge a great debt of gratitude to Indigenous people for the warmth of being and strength of spirit they bring to our lives.