The Wollotuka Institute proudly celebrates recent achievements

Guthi Wangga - Celebrating our Achievements

May 2015

World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) Accreditation Site Visit: 2 - 9 May 2015

The Wollotuka Institute embarked on an accreditation process with WINHEC in 2012 to acknowledge and recognise the strong outcomes being achieved within Australian Indigenous higher education.

The final stage of this process was a site visit to Wollotuka by a WINHEC Accreditation team.  A number of events/activities coincided with this visit:-

Bangiyal Ceremony

This ceremony is held to recognise a new beginning/a welcoming by the Wollotuka community – a welcoming of our Indigenous brothers and sisters from across the waters who will shared our country with us for 10 days during the site visit. It also recognises our custodianship responsibilities, providing an offering, a message or a commitment to our countries, spaces and communities, across all campuses, informed by traditional values and practice.

We achieved this through the utilisation of Burray (earth), Bathu (water), Guyal (fire) and Wipay (wind) where staff and students had the opportunity to provide a verbal or material offering/commitment to the elements that symbolises our past, present or future.

Yarning Circle on 1965 Freedom Ride in Australia

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the freedom ride Wollotuka hosted this yarning circle where an audience of 80 people heard the experiences of original Freedom Riders - Dr Robyn Iredale, Mr Brian Aarons & Ms Chris Page - voices from the past with visions for the future.

Mulubinba Exhibition

The exhibition was launched on 6 May and explored the history of the Aboriginal people of the Newcastle area tracing their stories and culture and their intrinsic relationship with the land. Significant sites, traditional practices and sharing stories were brought into focus as we celebrated the University and its community in 2015 and acknowledged the custodians of the land.

Original artefacts, flora and fauna accompanied early images by European artists and set the scene as the exhibition followed the history and development of Newcastle from an Aboriginal perspective.

Book Launch

The exhibition also included the launch of Professor John Maynard's book Callaghan, the University of Newcastle, Whose Traditional Land?

This book is the result of a study undertaken through a joint idea expressed by the then Department of Aboriginal Studies and the University of Newcastle in 1999.  The directive was to ascertain the clear identity of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land now occupied by the Callaghan campus of the University of Newcastle. The consensus indicated that findings would assist the University in recognising and symbolically acknowledging the traditional custodians' prior occupation of the University site.

The book can be purchased on-line.

"Living Cultures" Corroboree

The Corroboree celebrated the significance of the living cultures within our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community. A crowd of 250 people joined with us and  immersed themselves in a coming together celebration through dance, music, song, language and art.  They also enjoyed some good tucker cooked in our earth oven whilst having a friendly yarn with people by the fire.

Cultural Sites Tours

The Nations upon whose traditional lands the University of Newcastle and the Wollotuka Institute are located is respected and honoured thereby maintaining a pride in place and custodian responsibilities and obligations.

The site visit accreditation team were taken to our traditional lands and our sites including:

  • sites around the Newcastle area
  • Worimi cultural sites in the Port Stephens area
  • Karuah mission and sites along Karuah river
  • Site of our great creator, Biaime, in Wonnarua country

January to April 2015

Wollotuka Student Orientation

Orientation was held over both Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses on 16 & 19 February where close to 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait students were in attendance. Both days were a great success with students receiving information on what Wollotuka has on offer such as ITAS and scholarship support and well as academic and social engagement activities.

oweek students

As of 31 March Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student enrolments stand at 864 which is an increase on 829 enrolments at same time last year.


Associate Professor Kathy Butler named Diversity Champion at the Hunter Diversity Awards

The trailblazing efforts of Associate Professor Kathy Butler was recognised on Friday 6 March when she was named for this award launched at the International Women's Day breakfast in Newcastle.

Supremely honoured, Kathy nonetheless believes the advancement of Indigenous causes will be best measured when there is no need for recognition.

"We are still in the position of seeing someone who is the first Indigenous person to do 'x' and I think we will have really come somewhere significant when we are no longer getting those firsts - because it's just a matter of everyday practice that Indigenous Australians are included," she said.

Dr Butler said the creation of the awards was important for people promoting equity.

"One of the things that happens for those trying to make a change is there is a sense that sometimes you are on your own and things aren't changing," she said.


Family and Community History Workshop and Field Trip to Canberra

This event was hosted by the Yuraki History, Politics and Culture Node of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network in conjunction with Wollotuka with the aim being for staff, students and Aboriginal community to research their family histories particularly in connection with ANZAC family history.

20 people attended a workshop on 10 March with presentations on archival research by Professor John Maynard – Director, The Wollotuka Institute; Assoc/Prof Victoria Haskins – Deputy Head of School of Humanities; Kirsten Thorpe – Manager Indigenous Unit, Mitchell Library, Sydney and Rebecca Bateman – Commonwealth Archives with 13 of these people then attending a field trip to Canberra visiting Commonwealth Archives, War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies 11 – 13 March to research their histories.

Wollotuka student, Alex Devlin (pictured left), found service records and bible of his great uncle who at that time was his age.

Comments regarding trip:- "absolutely fantastic, very educating, do more often"; "great personal journey finding family service to country at war memorial"

Seminar: "World's Most Famous All-Coloured Revue" and the Case of Imagined Communities in Australia and New Zealand, 1955-56.

The Yuraki History, Politics and Culture Node of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledge's Network (NIRAKN) in conjunction with Wollotuka and Purai Global Indigenous and Diaspora Research Studies Centre proudly hosted this seminar on 17 March.  The seminar was delivered to an audience of 35 staff, students and community by Professor Ronald J. Stephens on his current transnational research on African American connections with Australia.

Hosting cast of "Black Diggers" production

We were proud to host the cast of this production at our weekly student bbq during their performance in Newcastle in March. This long overdue production was uncovers the contribution of First World War Aboriginal Diggers, following their exceptional stories from their homelands to the battlefields of Gallipoli, Palestine and Flanders

Congratulations to our Medicine students:

  • Bachelor of Medicine student, India Latimore, receives the NSW Aboriginal Land Council scholarship
  • Another Bachelor of Medicine student, Wayne Ah-Sam, showcased in University advertisements on television, website and buses. Great ambassador for the University and our Aboriginal students.