Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and engagement is a core component of our future and an essential part of our collective history. Five years ago, we launched Wingara Mura–Bunga Barrabugu (“thinking path to make tomorrow”), our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education strategy. The strategy aims to expand Aboriginal participation in education and research, and indeed our own cultural understanding. Wingara Mura–Bunga Barrabugu is a commitment to work together to respect and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and perspectives as an integral part of our University.
This commitment is about more than words; it is embedded in everything we do. And that includes the transformation of our campus. In designing both buildings and open spaces, we can pay tribute to the traditional custodians of the land and shape the physical environment to reflect and respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design principles.
I have written in previous articles of our transformation of the Darlington/Camperdown campus. We are delivering new teaching and administration spaces and providing affordable student accommodation, vital to the future of the University and indeed Sydney itself. In developing new buildings, we are asking our architects and landscape designers to integrate the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into both the physical appearance and functional spaces we are creating. Guiding the process are our Wingara-Mura design principles, established through working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations. These principles inform the development of projects across all of the University of Sydney.
It is our fervent desire that students, staff and visitors gain an understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and knowledge systems from the moment they step onto our campus. We hope, also, to strengthen relationships with local and regional Indigenous communities through the dynamic use of University buildings and spaces for teaching, learning and celebrating.
The historical significance of our land is about far more than bricks and mortar. Many of our buildings reflect Indigenous heritage in ways we sometimes fail to see. Take our Great Hall, for example: its sandstone walls were quarried from Cadigal and Wangal country, its marble floors brought here from Gandangara country, and the timber beams that hold the roof from Bundjalung country on the NSW north coast.
The Great Hall was built in a bygone era, but in the 21st century the University of Sydney is committed to incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and culture as an essential part of our overall mission. We are excited to apply design principles to create an environment that both reflects core Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values and ensures a vibrant and deep cultural narrative permeates all University experience.