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Indigenous welcome to VC a first

by Michèle Nardelli

VC David Lloyd with his smoking ceremony gift of a message stick and Coolamon. The smell of eucalyptus filled the hall as the sound of the didgeridoo heralded a special Kaurna welcome to country for Professor David Lloyd at the March graduations.

The welcome was made all the more significant in a week where the State Parliament of South Australia passed a bill to give Constitutional recognition to Aboriginal people.

UniSA’s Dean Indigenous Scholarship, Engagement and Research, Professor Peter Buckskin said the welcome had special significance because, being from Ireland, the Vice Chancellor was completely new to Australia.

“The ceremony acknowledges that, as the traditional owners of the land, our ceremonial welcome is valued and that the University has a respect for and commitment to Indigenous protocols and knowledge,” Prof Buckskin said.

“UniSA has a long and proud tradition of supporting Indigenous education and this welcome, which the Vice Chancellor has received with respect and pride, is a sign that the commitment to Indigenous opportunity remains strong at UniSA.”

The ceremonial welcome to country was the first to be offered to a Vice Chancellor in Australia. Prof Lloyd was presented with a message stick and Coolamon as welcome gifts.

Prof Lloyd said the ceremonial welcome was a great honour coming from a people who have the oldest living culture on the planet.

“It was a special and spiritual ceremony and I’m proud to have been so honoured,” he said.

He said he was keen to broaden his knowledge of Indigenous culture and history but also to better understand what universities as educators could do to improve the lives of Indigenous children today and into the future.

To view the smoking ceremony video click here.

Indigenous dancers perform during the ceremony.The week also saw the conferring of two honorary doctorates to prominent Australians who have long-standing connections to the University – artist Sydney Ball and lawyer Robyn Layton.

Former lecturer at UniSA and renowned artist credited with bringing abstract impressionism to Australia, Sydney Ball was awarded a doctorate. Adelaide born, Dr Ball headed for New York in the 1960s and rubbed shoulders with vanguard artists such as Kooning, Hofmann and Rothko.

He returned to Australia and settled in Sydney where he joined the National Art School as a lecturer while continuing to paint. Now retired he is concentrating on his art and paints every day.

Named South Australian of the Year in 2012 Adjunct Professor Robyn Layton AO QC is a former Supreme Court Judge and served as a Judge in the South Australian Industrial Court and Commission and as a Deputy President of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia’s School of Law and also works as a consultant for the Asia Development Bank on a gender development poverty reduction project for women in Kazakhstan, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Most notably at a local level, she has served as chair of the Advisory Council for the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Child Protection, as co-chair of Reconciliation SA and as patron of the Migrant Resource Centre in South Australia.

More than 5000 students officially graduated across the week from March 18 to 22 and hundreds of family members and friends attended the nine ceremonies. Graduations were held in Whyalla on April 5.

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