Twenty-nine Charles Sturt University (CSU) staff have returned from a five-day camp at Menindee in western NSW, which aims to produce an institution-wide transition from Indigenous cultural awareness to cultural competence.
The journey is the ninth since 2010, and is a commitment by the Wiradyuri Elders from Bathurst to journey with CSU representatives, enabling an Elder meet-up in Menindee.
Leading the pilgrimage was CSU senior lecturer Dr Barbara Hill who is also the senior fellow of The Higher Education Academy (HEA), UK Indigenous Curriculum & Pedagogy Co-ordinator, and lead of the Gulaay Indigenous Australian Curriculum and Resources team.
Joining Dr Hill were a group of cross-Faculty and Divisional staff, a colleague from the University of Sydney, a CSU PHD student, and a group of Wiradyuri Elders and trainee Elders who are being funded by Bathurst Community Transport to enable cultural exchanges between Elders across nation groups, which is a new initiative.
“The group sat with Ngiyaampaa Elder Aunty Beryl Carmichael to listen and learn cultural ways and forms of respect,” Dr Hill said. “Aunty Beryl was very welcoming, hosting us on her land and her nation, offering her Welcome, while holding our spirits for safe journeying.
“The event takes months of preparation, negotiations, and the practice of all cultural protocols, but in return, the experience is extremely gratifying.”
Dr Hill said many reflections were offered by participants on this journey, some as their first venture west, others returning many times.
“The success of Indigenous cultural competency is developed through the eyes of all Elders,” Dr Hill said. "The experience of participants at Menindee affirms that social justice and reconciliation are at the heart of efforts by the University to produce an institution-wide transition that will foster and ensure increasing Indigenous student recruitment, retention, and completion of its courses."
Starting in 2010, there have been numerous group journeys to Menindee - Ngiyeempa country, with participants including CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann, early in his tenure in 2012, and before him, former Vice-Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Ian Goulter, in 2011.