Judy Watson’s ‘Yara’ art installation, comprised of foot-high, ‘gifted’ Indigenous words engraved around the new amphitheatre and other key locations – other signs include a ‘We are on Kaurna land’ sign at the campus entrance – and three-metre tall ‘feather’ sentinels, will serve as a visual reminder of the living heritage of the land and its custodians for generations to come.
Kaurna Elder Uncle Yerloburka Lewis, meanwhile, will deliver the official Welcome to Country in the presence of the internationally regarded Indigenous artist and former sports star John Moriarty AM, who was first Indigenous student to enrol at Flinders.
Before it is officially opened, a traditional smoking ceremony will be undertaken to achieve a spiritual cleansing of the site.
“Going to university was a big step in my life, and a key to moving forward. Education was very important for me and unlocked opportunity,” said Mr Moriarty.
“Flinders was just being established at that time. I went to register for study and the man on the registration desk, as he was entering my name into the registration ledger, looked up and asked me if I was Aboriginal. I said that I was”
“He said, ‘welcome, you’re the first Aboriginal person to enrol at Flinders’.
Flinders University Vice Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling, also spoke to the Indigenous connections with the land in his welcome speech to guests at the launch.
The University’s commitment to Indigenous engagement and its Indigenous students has been a key focus for many years through its Yunggorendi Centre and Indigenous Strategy and Engagement unit.
Flinders currently has almost 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in its courses.
The vibrant new state-of-the-art Flinders Student Hub and Plaza extends the University’s long-running philosophy of providing a modern and inspiring environment for Australian and international students.
Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the development is at the heart of the University’s development and transformation.
“The Hub’s cutting-edge design is influenced by the latest research, which demonstrates that the best education occurs when students learn from each other – discussing, challenging, debating and testing ideas,” Professor Stirling says.
“This inspirational environment will support and stimulate collaborative learning activities by providing comfortable spaces equipped with the latest technology, offering students a modern, rich and rewarding learning experience.”
Hundreds of students, staff and guests are celebrating the new facilities at the official opening this morning.
Founded on the values of social justice and fair access to education, Flinders has grown from an original staff of 90 and 400 students to 2,000 academics and more than 24,000 students with a footprint reaching from Bedford Park, Tonsley and CBD facilities in Adelaide to Darwin and Alice Springs and 10 regional centres in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria.
At the heart of the busy Bedford Park campus, the Student Hub is home to the Flinders University Student Association, clubs and societies, and a retail precinct, pharmacy, post office, travel agent and other essential services.
The facilities also usher in a new era of community engagement, with a range of dining and conference experiences open to the public. Award-winning caterers Blanco Food and Events, with leading head chef Kyle Wood, have chosen the Hub’s svelte lines and ocean views as the home for a sophisticated new restaurant, Alere, while acclaimed CBD eatery Parwana Afghan Kitchen is located in the Hub’s ground-level food court, and popular Burger Theory, founded by Flinders alumni Dan Mendelson and Robert Dean, have taken charge of the relaunched Tavern.
The Hub and Plaza project involved international leaders in construction, design and interiors, led by Lendlease, Mott MacDonald and Woods Bagot. The design seamlessly integrates the existing Bedford Park campus with panoramic new areas, capitalising on the spectacular views of surrounding natural vistas across the Adelaide coastline and plains.
“This year’s program of 50th anniversary events offers many opportunities for the extended Flinders family to join together in marking this milestone, as well as allowing us to showcase our strengths and our capabilities,” Professor Stirling says.
Like its namesake, British naval explorer Captain Matthew Flinders who first circumnavigated Australia, the University has built an impressive record of achievement based on a strong sense of learning and scientific discovery in a wide range of disciplines.
- Total area (new build and refurbishment) – approximately 11,000 m².
- Technology and energy efficiency are hallmarks of the new Hub and Plaza. This includes a new, super-fast Wi-Fi network and more than 40 Wi-Fi outlets in the Hub.
- Spaces for students include laptop benches, study booths, group study lounges and group study tables, as well as individual booths. A video gaming lounge near the cafes and bar is also available to students.
- Interactive touchscreens help students and visitors navigate the building and environs while digital signage keeps the University community up to date with events and activities.
- The super screen will be used for community, sporting and artistic events.
- Sustainability features include natural ventilation, chilled beams, a 100KW solar panel system to help offset energy usage, and an energy efficient building management system.