In summary

  • Swinburne University of Technology is revitalising outdoor spaces at our campuses, to encourage connection to Country and cultural exchange, while also creating study and reflection spaces to enhance student engagement
  • These spaces have been co-created with our Indigenous students and Wurundjeri elders
  • Celebrations to mark the beginning of construction will be held at each campus in November, while construction is expected to be completed by the start of Semester 1, 2024

Swinburne University of Technology’s next gen_campus transformation is under way, with construction beginning on Indigenous Learning Circles at our three campuses.

The project will revitalise key outdoor spaces to pay tribute to the traditional owners of the lands on which our Australian campuses are located, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.

Co-created in collaboration between our Indigenous students, Swinburne’s Moondani Toombadool Centre, Wurundjeri elders, and Indigenous Architect Jefa Greenaway, the Indigenous Learning Circles will integrate aspects of Country, people, culture and art in outdoor spaces.

Our Indigenous Learning Circles are part of our next gen_campus projects across Swinburne’s Hawthorn, Wantirna and Croydon campuses.

Celebrations to mark the beginning of construction are being held at each campus, beginning with Hawthorn on 2 November and Croydon and Wantirna on 15 November.

Artist impression of the Indigenous Learning Circles at Hawthorn campus

Places to learn and grow

These new spaces will support the engagement and success of vocational education students, particularly those who may face barriers to education and training.

They will also get students out of the classroom into an environment encouraging them to think in a different capacity.

It will provide an opportunity for students to reflect, review their goals and to clarify and absorb their understanding of what they've learnt in class.

Swinburne Chief Operating Officer Nancy Collins said the project embodies Swinburne’s next gen_campus vision to deliver an innovative educational experience.

“These new learning environments are a key part of our broader next gen_campus work to deliver an improved experience from enrolment to graduation,” she said.

“This is just one of the many ways we are becoming the prototype of a new and different university, which will ultimately mean incredible improvements for our students’ satisfaction and outcomes.”  

Swinburne Pro Vice Chancellor, Indigenous Engagement, and proud Wiradjuri man, Professor John Evans said the new spaces signified Swinburne’s strong commitment to championing reconciliation and self-determination.

“We have been proactive in employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers to Indigenise and decolonise pedagogies, curricula and assessments across higher education and vocational education, at all levels from certificates to higher degrees by research,” he said.

“Creating these new cultural spaces will compliment the existing work we’ve done to embed Indigenous culture and self-determination at the very core of the Swinburne community and vision.”

Artist impression of the Indigenous Learning Circles at Croydon campus

A next gen_campus milestone

Our Indigenous Learning Circles beginning construction is also a significant milestone for next gen_campus, as this project is the first one to reach construction.

We will be marking the occasion with food, music, prizes and more at the sites on each campus – on 2 November at Hawthorn and 15 November at Croydon and Wantirna.

Also to be unveiled at these celebrations are our pop-up outdoor art exhibitions.

Running for the duration of the construction phase of our Indigenous Learning Circles, the gallery is comprised of a series of artworks by some of our Indigenous students to beautify the construction fencing.

These artworks were submitted as part of Swinburne’s annual NAIDOC Design Competition run by Student Life and the Moondani Toombadool Centre.

Among the exhibiting artists are 2020 winner Katie Bugden, 2022 winner Jack Dorgan, and 2023 winner Emily Gittins, in addition to Grace Auld and Hayley Kneebone.

The exhibition will remain on campus for the duration of construction, which begins in November and will be completed before semester 1, 2024.

“We’ve had students and staff, alongside the Wurundjeri elders, who have been really engaged in co-creating the Indigenous Learning Circles alongside the architect and project team,” Professor Evans said.

“Celebrating that by seeing these designs come to fruition will be really special, and I know there will be plenty of students and staff looking forward to coming back on campus in 2024 to see how it looks.

“If you can’t make it to one of the beginning of construction celebrations, I encourage you to make the time to visit later to enjoy the exhibition.”

Use the following link for details and to register to attend our campus celebrations:

Click here for more information on the exhibitions, including information about artworks and location.

Artist impression of the Indigenous Learning Circles at Wantirna campus

Designing for Country and community

In addition to being places where people can learn and reflect, our Indigenous Learning Circles will host events with cultural significance and connect with our existing Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands.

Four key principles have guided the design process:

  • Connect local community and Country: Embed the principles of self determination to empower, inspire and connect to the local community and Country through spaces of learning, connection, culture and wellbeing.
  • Encourage cultural exchange: Provide integrated spaces where people can gather, knowledge can be exchanged and cultural engagement can occur.
  • Connect to Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands: Celebrate and link all Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands to all Indigenous Learning Circles and integrate aspects of Aunty Dot’s story through various mediums.
  • Amplify Country via cultural expression: Acknowledge Country and Traditional Owners by integrating aspects of Country, people, culture and art to provide a unity across all Indigenous Learning Circles on all campuses.

Work has begun on our Indigenous Learning Circles, to be completed before semester 1, 2024. Image: Marcus Lee, Swinburne Photomedia student.

Building on our demonstrated commitments

Swinburne has a strong and demonstrated commitment to actively driving reconciliation and working with Indigenous communities to create positive impact.

As the first Australian university to achieve ‘Elevate’ status from Reconciliation Australia for our Reconciliation Action Plan, we are committed to advancing reconciliation by embedding self-determination, cultural safety and Indigenous knowledges across the university. 

In 2019, Swinburne joined 13 of Australia’s leading organisations to declare our support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Professor Evans said the Indigenous Learning Circles are a physical representation of Swinburne’s work to share Indigenous culture and promote engagement.

“As an extension of our Aunty Dot Peters Flowering Grasslands, these new spaces perform many functions – from being culturally safe spaces, to signifying our support for and work towards reconciliation and self-determination,” he said.

“They put our values and commitments on show and send a strong message that Swinburne is committed to working with Indigenous communities to create positive impact and build a better future for all Australians.”

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