Handing on the message stick of knowledge

Indigenous residents in Melbourne's west are learning about their heritage and the traditional owners of the region – many for the first time – as part of a new Victoria University program.

Known as 'Mumgu-Dhal Tyama-Tiyt' or the 'message stick of knowledge' in the Woiwurrung language, the certificate-level program is delivered by VU's School of General Education Programs and Services. It is aimed at Aboriginal people who want to re-engage in education and potentially continue on to university.

The first group of 12 students enrolled earlier this month at VU's St Albans Campus. They included young mothers, middle-aged workers and teenagers.

The three-day-a-week program offers students a chance to improve   literacy and numeracy, develop practical skills including public speaking, computer use and workplace safety, and research their own Aboriginal stories.

Certificates I, II and III may lead to VU's Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies, known as Kyinandoo.

Both programs are run in a culturally appropriate environment amid gum trees and native grasslands from VU's Moondani Balluk Academic Unit.

VU is committed to programs aimed at supporting the lives of indigenous people. In addition to specific Indigenous education programs aimed at meeting the needs of residents in the west, VU also has developed its "Yannoneit" employment strategy. Yannoneit aims to increase the number of Indigenous Australians employed at VU from its current number of 30 to 50 people by 2013.

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