Indigenous Energy at SCU

Published 19 August 2003

Southern Cross University is small, but what it lacks in size and prestige, it makes up for in energy, confidence and positive graduate satisfaction according to the 2004 edition of the prestigious Good Universities Guide, which gave SCU the maximum five stars for Indigenous participation and four stars for graduate satisfaction.

During the SCU Open Day this Saturday (23 August) members of the University’s College of Indigenous Australian Peoples (CIAP) will be on hand to talk about their courses, including a new Masters Degree.

CIAP is a hub of activity on the Lismore campus, attracting students and community members from local areas and around Australia. All of its academic staff are Indigenous and the courses focus on Indigenous learning styles. CIAP is a leader in national Indigenous education, according to College Head, Dr Judy Atkinson.

The College is offering for the first time in 2004 a Masters Degree in Indigenous Studies, described by Dr Atkinson as a course to deepen the skills of Indigenous people working in child protection, women’s shelters, juvenile detention centres, counselling and dealing with violence issues.

“We are keen to develop our own peoples’ talents to deal with community strengths and challenges,” Dr Atkinson said. “The Masters will be a process where students will be drawing on their own experiences, because there are not many texts available in the field on Indigenous violence and trauma from an Indigenous perspective. My experience of universities has been that they mainly follow intellectual pursuits, but here we believe there is no learning without heart learning, an experiential learning. We are educational intellectual warriors.”

Dr Atkinson has been published widely in the areas of Indigenous Therapies, Health and Healing in Aboriginal Families and Communities, Transgenerational Trauma, Violence in Aboriginal Australia, and Gender Relations in Aboriginal Communities. She is also involved in community outreach work through the College, having set up a multiskilling unit which goes out to do community-based training.

“Here we are working on solutions,” Dr Atkinson said. “Courses like this are the solution; education is the solution.”

As well as celebrating the new Masters Degree, CIAP is also celebrating a name change and now will be known as Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples. In acknowledgement of the Widjabul peoples on whose land the College is situated, Gnibi means 'black swan flying' and is the Bundjalung name for the star system which is now called the Southern Cross. The senior Bundjalung people of this region have given permission for the College to be named Gnibi.

On Open Day you can visit Gnibi from 10am till 3pm and talk to academics and students about the courses and degrees available. At 12.00pm at the SCU Plaza, Bundjalung Elder Aunty Irene Harrington will officially ‘Welcome all to Country.’

Caption: Celebrations at the recent naming ceremony for Gnibi at SCU.

Media contact: Kath Duncan or Sara Crowe in the SCU media liaison unit, Ph: 02 6620 3144.