Celebrating NAIDOC at Southern Cross University

Rob Cumings with Michael Anderson (L) and Casey Donovan (R): Celebrating NAIDOC at Southern Cross University
From left: Michael Anderson, Rob Cumings, Casey Donovan

Southern Cross University has strong links with local Indigenous communities in the regions we serve and has had many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates. I've been part of the Southern Cross University Indigenous Events Coordinating Committee (SCUIECC) for seven years. This collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, students and community members organises, amongst other events, the University's NAIDOC celebrations.

Over the years, SCUIECC has achieved some great NAIDOC celebrations. In 2010, we facilitated an exhibition of privately-owned, rarely-seen art by Albert Namatjira and members of his family in the Library at Lismore campus. In 2012, we hosted visits to each campus by two generations of talented, Indigenous leaders of national significance. Michael Anderson, one of the four men who set up the first Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, spoke eloquently about the history of the struggle of his people. And Casey Donovan, deadly singer and star of the stage, sang her heart out and spoke of a better future she saw for her people. It was such a privilege to spend time with these two powerful, passionate (and funny) people. In 2013 the focus was on connecting to country. So, at Lismore and at the Gold Coast, young Bundjalung hip hop group Supa Fresh and local music maestro Blakboi rocked the campuses. Blakboi put together an amazing big band featuring many of our Contemporary Music students. Their funky cover of Yothu Yindi's "Treaty" was a breath-taking, heart-stopping example of reconciliation in action.

As a non-Indigenous staff member, being part of SCUIECC has given me the opportunity to work and walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to learn from them and the oldest living culture on earth. It has increased my cultural competence and understandings and I've developed warm and enduring friendships. It has been challenging, uplifting, enriching and personally rewarding and I know it will remain one of the treasured memories of my time at the University.

Rob Cumings

Senior Equity and Diversity Officer