Cultural Recognition

A final but critical plank in our Reconciliation Action Plan is the element of Cultural Recognition. How do we work to ensure that both our built and natural environment, as well as our protocols and ceremonies, incorporate and embed appropriate cultural recognition of the ancestors on whose land we now occupy and work, and the Indigenous people who we now serve?

We have made some fundamental gains in this area, but many more opportunities remain for both the Faculty and the University to mark their respect for the contribution of Indigenous peoples to this institution

Possum Skin Cloak

Possum Skin Cloak
Photo by Peter Casamento

"The Possum Skin Cloak] honours the Wurunderji tradition, their high formal culture and their countrymen, the Bunerorong, Waudawurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, and Tungwurrung..."
Ian Anderson, Director of Murrup Barak

From the artist: Mandy Nicholson

The University of Melbourne asked me to create a cloak with traditional Wurundjeri designs, and which also reflected a student's life at university. The use of traditional Wurundjeri symbology is respecting the fact that Parkville is on Wurundjeri Country and as a sign of respect to my ancestors.

The swirl throughout the design depicts two things. Firstly it represents the smoke of a welcoming fire (by way of a traditional Wurundjeri Welcoming Ceremony). This welcomes all students from local to all over the world.

Secondly, the smoke swirls depict the learning and personal journeys of students and the connections that they make personally and professionally while at university. This can be on a small scale (the University/Parkville), and on a larger scale where once they have completed their courses they share this knowledge with their own and the wider community. This is shown in the design by the swirls that go in all directions, but at the same time never swaying too far away from their main goal of attaining a degree.

The lines within the swirls show on more of a macro scale the obstacles that may present themselves throughout study life. These smaller, wavy lines all remain connected to the support structure of friendships and the university itself.

Billibellary's Walk

Billibellary's Walk
Photo by Peter Casamento

Consider your place here on this land today. What does it mean or represent to you? How do you interact with it? How do you connect with its history and how will you contribute to its memories?
Commentary from Billibellary's Walk, The University of Melbourne

A cultural and historical interpretation of the urban landscape and an exploration of the experience of 'place' as it may have been for the traditional custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri people, before colonisation.

Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit has collaborated with other Centres, Faculties and Institutes at the University of Melbourne and the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council to develop a walk through the University's Parkville site using a narrative from an Aboriginal perspective.

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