Excellence in Indigenous education recognised

Flinders University’s Yunggorendi First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research has received a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Award for “excellence and innovation in teaching, recruitment and support of Indigenous students to higher education”.

The Director of Yunggorendi, Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney [pictured], said “UNESCO’s recognition of our Centre reflects Flinders’ commitment to the ideals of ‘education for all’.”

“Yunggorendi has built its reputation on community engagement with Indigenous peoples to produce genuine outcomes in higher education based on respect, relevance, reciprocity and responsibility,” Professor Rigney said.

“This honour bestowed on our past and present staff and students recognises their outstanding achievements in these areas,” he said.

Earlier this year, Professor Rigney stated that the critical lack of Aboriginal teachers and researchers in Australia needed to be addressed if gains in Indigenous health are to be achieved.

“Aboriginal health in this country is only going to get better if we start to address, from the very outset, education,” he said.

“We must throw out the poisonous ideology of educating an Aboriginal child out of an Aboriginal education – Indigenous languages are fundamental, Indigenous pedagogies and literacies are important,” he said.

Since 1977 Yunggorendi – a name given to the Centre by the Kaurna Nation which means to ‘impart knowledge’ – and Flinders have advanced 217 Indigenous graduates. In 2008 there were 195 Indigenous students studying professional degrees at Flinders including Law, Education, Nursing, Medicine and the Arts. Dr Gilbert Gallaher was the first Flinders PhD graduate in Public Health in 2008.

Professor Rigney accepted the award on behalf of Yunggorendi at a special reception at Government House on 10 November.

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