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Indigenous Education and Employment - Core Business at UTS

Posted 26 October 2011 by Adam Frogley (Indigenous)

University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has launched its Indigenous education and employment policy, that incorporates mandatory employment positions in each faculty and department.  NTEU has long advocated for a diverse range of ongoing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, in all academic and general staff roles and across all faculties and departments in Australian Universities - we commend UTS for adopting this stance.

NTEU Indigenous Unit congratulates UTS on its stated committment to Indigenous education and employment.  A copy of the article from the Sydney Morning Herald is detailed below.  A web link to the article is also available.      

ONE of Sydney's leading universities is ramping up its commitment to indigenous participation in higher education, including mandatory employment positions in each faculty and department.

The University of Technology, Sydney will launch its indigenous education and employment policy today, which adopts a "whole university approach" to employment for staff and career development for students.

The chief architect of the policy, Professor Michael McDaniel, said indigenous education and employment is "core business" and a collective responsibility. "It should hold a status within the university similar to research, teaching and learning, and internationalisation," said Professor McDaniel, director of the university's Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning. "We needed to reconsider our governance and planning in terms of how we responded to that."

An indigenous project officer at Jumbunna, Emma Hardcastle, said working at UTS is her first contact with a university. The 21-year-old from the central coast joined the staff last year and loves the interaction with students who come to Jumbunna for information and support.

"We do a lot of outreach and recruiting into Aboriginal communities and promote university in general, that there is somewhere to go after high school," she said. "Some kids may not know exactly what university is; when you tell them it's not just like high school, they think it's really cool."

UTS also runs programs on campus that Ms Hardcastle said helped build tertiary aspirations.

Developed over 12 months, the policy pre-empts a federal report into "access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people".

The Vice-Chancellor, Ross Milbourne, said the university plan was in development ahead of the government review and he hoped other universities would follow suit.

"What we're trying to do is to mainstream this across the university and make it clear that it's everyone's responsibility to help raise outcomes for indigenous people in Australia," he said. "Everyone's got to play their part ... and that's why we've set specific targets for each area in order to achieve it."

Today UTS will also announce a memorandum of understanding with the Redfern-Waterloo Authority for greater training and job creation as part of the university's $1 billion campus expansion. 

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  1. Koori said on 9:14 Thursday 24 Nov, 2011

    [ -2 ] Murri if that is happening it's a disgrace. I am lucky to have not seen that where I'm located. It's a small pool of us who are qualified and if non Indigenous people are getting roles (especially in Indigenous units) and have no or lower quals than the Indigenous applicants then it's something that the Uni's should be held accountable for!!!!

    I know it's happened with Indigenous staff on occasions but for cultural reasons - eg. Student Support Officers in the Indigenous units SHOULD be Indigenous if possible - but not identified for the sake of getting numbers. If they drop off due to the workload (and lets face it we all know its a lot different working in the University environment) then we've set them up to fail and also gives those knockers another piece of ammo against us.

    If NTEU is there to fight racism all for it. But if it's trying to push the Identified roles onto Uni's then it's not a good thing.

    Just a question for NTEU Management - how many Indigenous staff do you have? What levels?

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  2. Murri said on 15:40 Wednesday 23 Nov, 2011

    [ -1 ] In response to Koori, having the qualifications and winning on merit are a great ideal - But when non-Indigenous staff are appointed without any qualifications in the subject matter and with far less qualifications than an Indigenous applicant, there is a real issue.

    I agree that identified positions can be seen to be tokenistic, but I think that the institutions need to be held to account on why they are not employing appropriately qualified Indigenous people.

    It is good to see the NTEU put the issue of racism in tertiary institutions on the table.

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  3. Koori said on 10:33 Wednesday 23 Nov, 2011

    [ -3 ] I am Aboriginal and I think that NTEU is WRONG!!!! Not in the fact that they are supporting us but that they want to have Identified positions within the University.

    There is still a stigma out there that if you get a position that is identified that it is token or that you are not winning it on merit.

    I have been in Identified roles before so I know this occurs.

    I now look for roles where I win the position on Merit. Merit based selection is the only way that Koori workers will progress to the higher levels within the University.

    With Block programs - see both the positive and negative with it. I agree with Veronika that the communities are crying out for this program, but it needs to be delivered in a way that the quals are 100% legit. I have personally seen some people graduate block programs who have very serious problems with writing. Are they obliged to pass everyone that is a part of the course? if so then it is actually detrimental to the communities.

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  4. Adam Frogley said on 17:24 Wednesday 16 Nov, 2011

    [ -2 ] In response to the very important issues raised by Veronica Murphy; NTEU strongly supports the creation and maintenance of identified positions in the higher education sector as well as the continuation of programs, both employment and education that are supported by our members and communities. As stated, Indigenous specific positions that are in existence must be filled and take priority over any mainstream position that may be created under any employment program. More broadly, this does raise the issue of the mainstream agenda that many universities across Australia are now undertaking and how this will affect staff, students and community. NTEU does not support this mainstreaming agenda nor do we support in anyway moves away from community supported programs such as the Block Release Programs operating at UTS and in other Universities. NTEU will always support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and are very concerned that any moves will be made by UTS to undermine Indigenous positions and Indigenous programs. We encourage our members to raise their concerns and to make contact with the UTS NTEU Branch or the National Indigenous Unit via email or phone.

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  5. Veronica said on 13:37 Friday 28 Oct, 2011

    [ +1 ] “To help us deliver on our commitment, I have directed each faculty and division to nominate at least one vacancy per year that should be targeted to be filled by an Indigenous Australian. Very importantly, these are to be mainstream positions – not 'Indigenous specific' positions.”
    These words really need to be scrutinised for the hidden agenda. McDaniel talks about “mainstreaming” positions in the faculties what about the Indigenous positions that already exist, that were created to support Indigenous students is he saying there is no place for these positions. Is this why the staff’s already holding these positions are now being forced into “mainstream” academic support roles. The move McDaniel is directing (dictating) sounds so much like coercion to assimilate. Is the University bringing back assimilation policies? Is the NTEU supporting the Indigenous staff whose positions are becoming redundant? Why don’t McDaniel and the University talk about the Indigenous positions and Indigenous programs that are being done away with?

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  6. Veronica Murphy said on 12:48 Thursday 27 Oct, 2011

    [ -2 ] Very interesting that UTS did not mentioned there commitment to the Block programs that have been operating out of the Business and Education Faculties, Is it because that there is no commiment on their part, these block programs have given remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities an opportunity to engage in higher education to gain skills that are taken back to communities. What now? Where is the commitment ? Why aren't they speaking about the axing of these programs and the treatment of the staff who have tried to keep these programs viable. Who's agenda is being met, is not the communities !!!!

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