About JCU Reconciliation

Reconciliation at JCU

What is Reconciliation?

Reconciliation is an honest and critical understanding of Australia's shared history, and how it has informed the lives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians today.

Reconciliation involves other Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples building and preserving mutual, positive, and respectful relationships. It involves optimising these relationships and working together on closing the gap; achieving a shared sense of fairness and justice as a foundation for success; and enhancing our national well being.

JCU's commitment to reconciliation is addressed in its Statement of Strategic Intent (PDF, 210 KB).

"Acknowledging the First Nation peoples of the world, their rich cultures and their knowledge of the natural environment, we pay particular respect to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Australia. We are pledged to achieve genuine and sustainable reconciliation between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community."

JCU is committed to working towards the achievement of genuine and sustainable reconciliation between Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community.

We believe that a commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation is vital to the attainment of a better future for all Australians and all members of the JCU community. This Statement applies to all members of the JCU community.

Reconciliation promotes justice, recognition and healing. It is about helping all Australians move forward, creating a better understanding of Australia’s past and how it affects the lives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

JCU acknowledges that the impact of colonisation, public policies, racial discrimination and prejudice, have had a major effect on the lives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We recognise that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to face disadvantages as well as prejudice and racism.

JCU acknowledges that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the original inhabitants and traditional custodians of this continent and that they have unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land and waters.

JCU commits to working towards the achievement of reconciliation as follows:

  • Create a university environment where Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and members of the wider campus community, work, study and live together with mutual respect and understanding.
  • Foster an environment where all students and staff feel safe and valued, regardless of their background.
  • Recognise and value cultural diversity as an asset which enriches the life of the university community.
  • Incorporate Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures within the physical structures and spaces of the University.
  • Address racism and prejudice by highlighting university policies, providing an accessible complaints process, and by educating all students and staff about issues of racism, equity and equal opportunity.
  • Integrate Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, perspectives and experience across the curriculum through consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff.

We are proud of the achievements of JCU's distinguished Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, graduates and staff. We are proud of the cultural richness and diversity of our university community. We look forward to the future success of JCU's staff and students and the achievement of genuine reconciliation between the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community.

The original Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was developed following a May 2013 commitment by the JCU Vice Chancellor to develop our first action plan to strengthen our commitment to enhance the lives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through education and research. It is now under review and a new RAP will be released later in 2019.

'Coming together and respecting difference'

Artwork: Acrylic on linen by Kassandra Savage
Language group: Waanyi and Walangama clan, part of the Gkuthaarn/Kukatj nations

JCU acquired the artwork as part of its commitment to implement the Reconciliation Action Plan. The artwork represents JCU's story in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander way:

  • Circles in the middle depict JCU as a meeting place.
  • Outer circles are JCU's links to communities through its students, who return home to share their new knowledge and understandings.
  • Different patterns within the hands and arms are the differences between and within Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and multicultural Australia. There are also similarities in the hands and arms used to illustrate us standing together for equity and equality.
  • The ripple effect in the arms and hands represents out reconciliation journey; starting small, growing bigger, and reaching out to touch more and more lives. The effect gathers momentum to develop support and understandings. The circles represent the importance of yarning circles, meeting circles, and communities, in order that we can connect with each other.

From the artist

"My connection to JCU goes back over 25 years when I was a student studying to be an early childhood teacher. It was through a special entry program that targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, giving us the opportunity to study and graduate with the same qualifications as other students.

This opportunity changed my life, and 25 years later, having taught in many communities, I am still teaching and making a difference in the lives of all children, especially our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They need strong role models to encourage them to follow their dreams and to inspire them to do great things.

I believe education plays and important role in shaping young children to be more accepting and tolerant of people from different cultures and backgrounds."

– Kassandra Savage

JCU's Reconciliation Statement was released 21 May 2008. On the same day, the JCU Library was renamed after Eddie Koiki Mabo.

At JCU, we strive to improve our ability to better recognise each other, as well as the contributions, cultures and histories of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through education and activities. One such activity is National Reconciliation Week, which is our opportunity to recognise the unique place of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within this country. There are two significant milestones within National Reconciliation Week of note:

  1. The anniversary (27 May) of Australia’s most successful referendum, a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
  2. The landmark Mabo decision of the High Court of Australia (3 June 1992) to legally recognise that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonisation and which still exists today. This recognition paved the way for Native Title land rights.