In a powerful display of cultural pride, VU's Yannoneit Employment Strategy was launched by Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins at Footscray Park.

Professor Tony Birch, Aboriginal activist and author of The White Girl, was MC for the event. Special guests included Lidia Thorpe, Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman and former politician, Karen Jackson, Director of Moondani Balluk Academic Unit and Aunty Di Kerr.

During her Welcome To Country, the Wurundejeri Elder reminded the large audience of Victoria’s diversity.

"We have aorund 250 cultures and 150 religions. We have to understand each other’s cultures and respect each other. May Bunjil keep us safe."

Yannoneit, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Career Development Strategy is part of VU's ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. In his opening remarks, Professor Dawkins said "The advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is integral to VU's vision and mission."

The Yannoneit (which means 'come walk') strategy aims to:

  • Increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees at VU to achieve a target of 3% of the workforce.
  • Increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic staff at VU. This includes growing the academic workforce by increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in Higher Degrees by Research.
  • Increase the number of cultural awareness sessions to a minimum of four per year with a focus on managers attaining employment targets and staff retention.
  • Provide for the professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across all positions at VU to enable the career advancement of academic staff.
  • Provide tailored, culturally sensitive induction processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.
  • Establish and promote VU as a supportive, culturally sensitive and significant employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Jennifer Sinclair, Diversity and Inclusion Manager and Irene Sazdov, Aboriginal Employment and Community Liaison Officer collaborated and consulted with key VU staff for over twelve months, to help create a strategy that represented VU's commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and culture through employment.

The event closed with a moving performance by the Djirri Djirri Dance Group - the only Wurundjeri female dance group and Traditional Custodians of Narrm (Melbourne).