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University's vision for 'true reconciliation'

Reconciliation Week Flag Raising Ceremony 2024

The Provost of Bond University has laid out an ambitious plan to achieve true reconciliation between the university and Indigenous Australians.

Professor Keitha Dunstan, a Mandandanji woman, addressed a crowd of students and staff at a Reconciliation Week flag-raising ceremony at the ADCO Amphitheatre on May 28.

“We would like to be the first Australian university that is truly reconciled,” Professor Dunstan said.

“We are a small university, we are a values-based university, and with the right approach, I think we can all work together to make that achievement.

“And what that would mean is that Bond is a university of choice for Indigenous students; a university of choice for Indigenous people to come and work at; a university of choice for international students to come and have a true First Nations experience.

“Within our Indigenous strategy is embedding Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in our learning and teaching. 

“So not just the curriculum - we want it to pervade our entire approach to learning and teaching. Basically taking the knowledge of an ancient people to embrace the learnings in a very modern world - and that includes Artificial Intelligence.”

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Bond University Elder Uncle John Graham and Anthony Cora from Biren Cultural Group prepare for a smoking ceremony.

Professor Dunstan said the failure of the Voice referendum last year highlighted the importance of reconciliation to Australia.

“Given that failure, we need to look to other ways to ensure that all Australians come together and that reconciliation is fully achieved,” she said.

“That's very much an aim of this university.”

Earlier in the week at a National Sorry Day forum, Yuin woman and Assistant Professor in Law Narelle Bedford pointed out that 27 years after the landmark Bringing Them Home report into the Stolen Generations was tabled in Federal Parliament, some of the 54 recommendations had yet to be implemented.

“National Sorry Day is a sad day. But we must not become despondent, or get overwhelmed, or develop a deficit mindset,” she said.

“Rather it’s about recognising its details and impact and to honour the resilience and determination of the Stolen Generations.”

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Staff and students at the flag-raising ceremony.

It is estimated that between one in 10 – and possibly as many as one in three - Indigenous children were removed from their families and communities between 1910 and the 1970s.

“So what can we do today?” she asked the audience at the Basil Sellers Theatre.

“We can each try and learn Indigenous stories and listen to Stolen Generations in guiding their healing processes.

“We can celebrate Indigenous achievements, and the Bond University library has impressive displays this week on the issue.

“We can think about what reconciliation means to us, and I suggest you look at the Bond Reconciliation Action Plan.

“And also learn some of the local Indigenous history in our cities and on the Coast – creek names, street names etcetera.”

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Bond University Provost, Professor Keitha Dunstan, ABC journalist and producer Solua Middleton, Assistant Professor of First Nations Health Bridie Mulholland and University of Queensland PhD student Amy Thomson.

Reconciliation Week at Bond University wrapped up with a Bond University Women’s Network Speak Up Forum featuring discussions with three high achieving Indigenous women, Senior ABC journalist and producer Solua Middleton, University of Queensland PhD student Amy Thomson, and Assistant Professor of First Nations Health at Bond University, Bridie Mulholland.

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