Whitley College Reconciliation Action Plan
Whitley College published its Reconciliation Action Plan for 2011-2012 in July 2011. It outlines Whitley College’s commitment to improving the educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in 2011 - 2012. The plan was developed in consultation with Reconciliation Australia.
If you have any enquiries regarding our Reconciliation Action Plan, please direct them to:
Rev Dr Frank Rees, Principal
Telephone: 9340 8000
You can download a copy of the Whitley College Reconciliation Action Plan in PDF, or read it below.
The following is taken from the introduction to our Reconciliation Action Plan:
Our vision for reconciliation focuses on the provision of a supportive learning environment, improving the educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, building cultural respect, and promoting the achievements of Indigenous Australians at the local and national level. This Reconciliation Action Plan will become a crucial part in Whitley’s contribution to bridging the existing gaps in educational outcomes.
Our vision is shaped by our location and by our sense of history. Whitley College is situated on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. We acknowledge that the Wurundjeri people have enjoyed close spiritual connections with their country, maintaining their traditional societies and sustainable economic practices in this part of Australia for more than a thousand generations before the assertion of British sovereignty.
As in every other part of Australia, this balanced order was ruptured by colonization, which brought many injustices and grave threats to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their cultures, rights and well-being. Yet the Wurundjeri people, and the surrounding peoples of the Kulin nations, proudly survive. We feel it is important to acknowledge this legacy as we resolve to participate in righting the wrongs of the past.
Whitley College, the Baptist College of Victoria, has two related but distinct educational purposes – theological and residential. The Theological School is a campus of the Melbourne College of Divinity, and the Residential College is affiliated with the University of Melbourne.
In developing this Reconciliation Action Plan, we seek to build on our past experience of engaging with Aboriginal theological students, and offering programs that link faith and justice. As part of our Baptist identity and history, we will also seek to build up our relationships with the Baptist churches of the Warlpiri people of Central Australia.
The Residential College provides accommodation, academic enrichment and pastoral care for some 130 students who study the broad range of academic disciplines available at the University of Melbourne and surrounding universities. Our policy and practice in recent years has been to provide places for, and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students as part of our diverse educational community which fosters the values of tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for cultural diversity.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan Journey
The Whitley Reconciliation Action Plan planning process commenced in 2009 and was a led by a committee that included senior staff, an Aboriginal student from the Residential College, and a member of the College’s governing body. The process included student workshops, and a number of consultations with staff and faculty, and two visits from a member of Reconciliation Australia.
While the initial focus of attention was on the provision and support of undergraduate education, it became clear that working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples extended to all areas of our communal life and also to building relationships with local Aboriginal organizations and programs outside the College. Research activities within the Theological School were also given attention, and new objectives set in that area as well.
The Reconciliation Action Plan proposals have been considered by management and the governing body and have now been fully endorsed at both levels. It has been resolved that the membership of the ongoing Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group will include the Dean of the Theological School, the Warden of the Residential College, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student of the College who is willing to participate in the Working Group.
It has been acknowledged that the process of building greater respect for Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples within our University environment will require collaboration with the Reconciliation Action Plans of the University of Melbourne and its associated community of residential colleges.
Dr Mark Brett discusses justice, theology and Indigenous rights with Just Salvos (visit www.justsalvos.com)
Whitley College, 23-25 January 2012
Launch - 2 August 2011