Expanding Indigenous spaces across Swinburne

Through the Moondani Toombadool Centre and the 2020-23 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Swinburne is committed to increasing the recognition of Indigenous knowledges and cultures throughout our physical campuses.

‘The Moondani Toombadool Centre is working with a number of Swinburne organisational areas on initiatives regarding Indigenous spaces,’ says Professor Andrew Gunstone, Executive Director, Moondani Toombadool Centre, and Executive Director, Reconciliation Strategy and Leadership at Swinburne.

The Moondani Toombadool Centre is expanding upwards to cover two levels.

The Moondani Toombadool Centre gets a new home

Indigenous student services, spaces and staff have been spread across Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, until now. The Moondani Toombadool Centre has initiated a new development in the AD building that will bring together staff and students, and create a welcoming place for communities.

‘The space will be a focus point, providing a culturally safe environment and ongoing social and academic support. The most exciting thing is that students and staff can come together to connect and build a strong community within Swinburne,’ says Vicky Peters, Manager Indigenous Student Services at the Moondani Toombadool Centre.

The builder – Rork Projects, an Indigenous construction and fit-out company – was chosen from an all-Indigenous panel to take on the project. Construction has started and is scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2021.

The Moondani Toombadool Centre has also created a larger space at the Croydon campus for staff and students that complements the existing space at the Wantirna campus.

Dale and Jenni Vocale are the owners of the Street Feast food truck. They will be opening an Indigenous native food fusion café at Swinburne in 2022.

Indigenous café in development

The team behind the Street Feast food truck are planning to set down foundations at Swinburne with a new native food fusion eatery called Jarrah Boy Café and Bar. Located at the site of the old Haddon’s café, construction will get underway soon with an opening in 2022.

Each dish on their menu will contain native food – like warrigal greens, lemon myrtle and wattle seed – all sourced ethically. In 2018, the bushfood industry was worth $20 million and of that, only 1 to 2 per cent was owned by Indigenous peoples. Jarrah Boy Café and Bar is owned by chef and proud Indigenous man of the Monero Ngarigo people, Dale Vocale, and his wife Jenni, and supported by a supply chain of Indigenous-owned businesses. They will work closely with the Moondani Toombadool Centre, who have worked with Swinburne’s procurement team to create this opportunity.

‘We are thrilled to bring Jarrah Boy Café and Bar to Swinburne. It’s a chance to showcase native foods, but also to provide Indigenous employment, training and excellence. We are so excited for the opportunity to build a retail space for other Indigenous businesses to showcase their products and promote, nurture and encourage Indigenous entrepreneurship across all different types of industries,’ says Dale.

Students and staff can now enjoy the Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands at the Croydon campus.

Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands at every campus

The Aunty Dot Peters AM Flowering Grasslands were recently unveiled across our Hawthorn, Croydon and Wantirna campuses as part of the launch of our 2020-23 Reconciliation Action Plan. The grasslands were designed by Wemba Wemba-Wergaia man, Dean Stewart and organised by the Moondani Toombadool Centre.

The grasslands are named after Yarra Yarra Elder Aunty Dot Peters AM. Aunty Dot was born in 1930 and grew up in and around Healesville and Coranderrk, spending most of her life learning and teaching about culture in the community. She had a decades-long association with Swinburne and helped develop our Reconciliation Action Plans. Aunty Dot’s legacy at Swinburne continues through her son, Dr Andrew Peters, and two nieces, Lea Jones and Vicky Peters, who all work at Swinburne.

‘Mum was an advocate for making society a more welcoming place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples all over the world, and in particular, for recognising our part in Australia’s past, present and future. I love that we have a space bearing her name that recognises her past, present and future at Swinburne,’ says Andrew, a senior lecturer in Indigenous Studies, Department of Social Sciences.

If you don’t know Andrew, his face will soon become familiar to students and staff at the Hawthorn campus, with new street art featuring his image coming in August 2021.

‘It’s humbling, a great honour and a little embarrassing all at once to be the subject of a mural. I’ve been at Swinburne a long time, I love working here and I hope that this can symbolise the connection I feel with the place.’

Wurundjeri women’s dance group Djirri Djirri helped launch the 2020-23 Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) at the Hawthorn campus.

Reconciliation at Swinburne

Earlier this year Swinburne launched our latest 2020-23 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is the university’s third RAP and the second RAP to achieve ‘Elevate’ status. Swinburne was the first university to achieve this status and is one of only three Australian universities to have an Elevate RAP.

Significant achievements from the 2017-2019 RAP included establishing the Moondani Toombadool Centre, hosting the inaugural National RAP Conference and joining 13 other Elevate RAP organisations to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Connect with our Moondani Toombadool Centre for all Indigenous matters at Swinburne.

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