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Southern Cross ‘on the cusp of great things’ as a leader in Indigenous reconciliation


Jessica Huxley
24 November 2017
Uncle Larry Kelly and Professor Norm Sheehan. Credit: Elise Derwin
Uncle Larry Kelly and Professor Norm Sheehan. (

Southern Cross University is embracing the pivotal role of Indigenous Elders in its future.

The acknowledgement is part of the change embedded in the University’s Gnibi Wandarahn Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launched today (Friday November 24) by the Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker, Professor Norm Sheehan Director of the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, the Gnibi Elders, staff, students and community members.

“There is no doubt that Southern Cross is on the cusp of great things,” said Professor Adam Shoemaker.

“A key measure of the aspiration is our daily, lived respect for the Indigenous peoples of the Northern Rivers and coastal regions of NSW and Queensland. We are humbled to embrace our Indigenous Elders as wise partners of, and advisors to the University, who now meet with the University Council as equals.”

RAPs are practical plans of action for organisations that build on relationships and respect to create social change and economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Gnibi Wandarahn RAP is highly innovative, progressive and ambitious. It dovetails perfectly with the University’s commitment to provide safe, culturally appropriate access to education, research and outreach.

Professor Norm Sheehan, Director of the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples said: “This Reconciliation Action Plan is a great opportunity to establish cultural security as a leading initiative for the University that also provides an example of respectful relationships as the basis for deeper engagement and effective learning among our communities.”

Professor Shoemaker said he proudly acknowledged and welcomed the Indigenous community’s outreach and participation in all aspects of University life.

“I’m also delighted that the Southern Cross’ core mentoring and educational programs, such as those run in partnership with AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience), have the highest per capita participation and success rates in the country.

“Southern Cross also proudly acknowledges the success of the University’s doctoral program in Indigenous Knowledge, led by the talented staff of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples.”

When Southern Cross purchases goods or employs new staff, the RAP will guide its goal to become the Australian University Employer of Choice for Indigenous peoples.

Professor Shoemaker congratulated the many authors of the Gnibi Wandarahn RAP and paid tribute to Professor Norm Sheehan, the co-Chairs of the Plan - Rachel Lynwood, Aunty Irene Harrington, and the much-missed Aunty Bertha Kapeen - and the many members of the committees.

He also praised Tristan Schultz for his innovative visual design and Bundjalung artist Oral Roberts whose work integrates this distinctive and creative publication.

See the video, recording the launch of the University’s inaugural Gnibi Wandarahn Reconciliation Action Plan and associated Indigenous Strategies.