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Featured News JCU’s Townsville campus Indigenous name unveiled

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Fri, 4 Dec 2020

JCU’s Townsville campus Indigenous name unveiled

Martin and Sandra stand on the left side, and Bill and Dorothy on the right, of the large JCU marble sign the now includes
Bebegu Yumba means “Place of Learning” in the Birri-Gubba language. L-R: Prof Martin Nakata, Prof Sandra Harding, Bill Tweddell, Dorothy Savage. Photo: Bethany Keats, JCU Media.

As part of its 50th birthday celebrations, James Cook University's Townsville campus has been given a local Indigenous name to acknowledge the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the advancement of the University.

This year JCU marks 50 years since its establishment as a university and 60 years of higher education in the north.

Consultations have been held with Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities regarding Indigenous language names for each of JCU’s northern Australian campuses.

The Townsville (Douglas) campus has been named Bebegu Yumba, which means “Place of Learning” in the Birri-Gubba language.

Indigenous language names will also be announced for JCU’s Cairns, Mackay, Mt Isa, and Thursday Island campuses.

Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the naming ceremonies acknowledge and celebrate JCU’s campuses, reflecting the shared sense of connection to place.

“A crucial part of our 50th birthday celebrations is to promote recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and the significance of our place in northern Queensland and the Tropics more broadly - the knowledge shared and co-created and the impact on the region and nation, as part of our enduring legacy after more than half a century in the North.

“JCU is an integral part of our region’s fabric, and having a local language name cements our connection to Country. It is a deep privilege to be provided this recognition and honour by the traditional owners.

“Until now our campuses have not had official names other than the suburb in which they are located. Adopting Indigenous names is an important acknowledgement of the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the University’s past, present and future.

“The naming of each campus stands as tribute to JCU’s history and our deep respect to the traditional custodians of our campuses. It reflects our shared history and purpose and gives further effect to the University’s Reconciliation Action Plan and Strategy,” Professor Harding said.

The Pro Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Education and Strategy Professor Martin Nakata said JCU recognises the important contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our community.

“In our 50th birthday year, we want to recognise our campuses’ important place in the growth of the University, and have consulted local Indigenous groups to choose appropriate names for the campuses.”

“We are proud of the achievements of JCU's Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, graduates and staff, and we are proud of the cultural richness and diversity of our university community,” Professor Nakata said.

JCU commenced operations in 1960 as the University College of Townsville within the University of Queensland. In 1970, and to coincide with the bicentenary of Captain James Cook landing on the Australian continent, JCU was proclaimed as Queensland’s second university.