On 12 February 2017 Victoria University's Indigenous Academic Unit, Moondani Balluk, celebrated its 11 year anniversary.
Moondani Balluk means embrace people in the Woiwurrung language of the Kulin people.
Since 2006, Moondani Balluk has worked towards establishing a culturally safe space. The Unit encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students to “aspire to personal, family and community goals; land rights and the recognition of Sovereign Peoples; and the delivery of relevant educational programs by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people.”
In a publication celebrating the anniversary, Karen Jackson, a Yorta Yorta woman and Director of Moondani Balluk, writes about the guiding aim to create an environment that welcomes, nurtures and recreates community based on relationship to land, culture law and Elders.
Over 11 years the Unit has developed a number of key policy initiates, including the implementation of the Indigenous Participation Strategy and the Indigenous Education Statement (Commonwealth Government). They've established partnerships with groups and committees including:
- Footscray Community Arts Centre and the annual Wominjeka Festival
- Cohealth in a consortia partnership for Koolin Balit Early Years project
- Wyndham City Council in the development of the Wyndham Aboriginal Community Centre.
The Unit continues to work in areas of research, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and staff members work with local and traditional communities around the west to give them “the opportunities to succeed” at VU.
The Unit also provides assistance to students, across a number of areas, including: academic support, course enrolment and advice, referral to counselling and career and employment advice.
Student success stories include Honours graduate Olivia Slater who is currently enrolled in her Masters at Oxford University and is in the process of applying for her PhD.
While closer to home, the Lyons sisters – Rebecca, Jaimie-Lea, and Tanaya, are three Wiradjuri sisters who graduated with double degrees from VU’s Bachelor of Arts (Honours). Rebecca is now enrolled in her PhD, Tanaya is employed as an Administrative Officer in Moondani Balluk and Jaimie-Lea is employed in the Koolin Balit Early Years project.