Charles Sturt University (CSU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann has called on the higher education sector to recommit to close the gap for Indigenous Australians.
"Today marks 10 years of the Close the Gap campaign and while change is happening and universities have succeeded in increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by 70 per cent, there is still more work to be done," Professor Vann said.
"Despite investment, good intentions and some positive results to date, serious disparities remain.
"We need stable government policy and programs to support pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into education and professional life.
National Close the Gap Day is an annual event that seeks to raise awareness and close the gaps in life expectancy, opportunity and equity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and wider Australia. This includes a national resolve to close the gaps in education access and attainment.
Professor Vann said universities are in the privileged position of being able to develop learning, teaching and support mechanisms that can make real improvements to the higher education outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
"We know that the Government is seeking to modernise the Australian economy with a renewed focus on innovation and STEM," he said.
"As universities, we must focus not only on enrolments and completions, but also on converting educational success into full time employment in this new economy.
"The question now is how can we convert some Indigenous educational success into full time employment in the new innovation-driven economy?
"It seems to me that in a contemporary university there is a critical need to nurture a sense of shared culture owned by all parties and to retain a sense of agency for Indigenous peoples.
"To echo the Prime Minister, we need to work 'with and by' Indigenous people, not do things 'to and for' them. In return, there are certainly things our universities, our people and our students can and should learn from Indigenous cultures."
"At Charles Sturt University we are committed to creating a genuinely culturally inclusive institution, embracing Indigenous culture and embedding it into our organisational DNA. We recognise that we can be wiser, more rounded and better people for seeking to understand these Indigenous perspectives and transcend the confines of our own cultural backgrounds.
"Today on National Close the Gap Day it is important that we redouble our commitment to creating parity for Indigenous peoples and recognise that we still have so much more to do," Professor Vann said.
Students, staff and community members who wish to get involved in the Close the Gap campaign and be part of the generation that closes the gap can sign the pledge on the Oxfam website.