A Message from the Dean of Arts

Welcome to the second edition of ARTiculation for 2017. This issue highlights our important work with Indigenous students, staff and the wider community and is reflective of the Faculty's commitment to Indigenous development through our teaching and learning, research and engagement activities.

Our work in this area is undertaken within the broad framework of the University's Reconciliation Action Plan which builds commitment within the University community and provides structures and support for actions that contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

Among the initiatives profiled in this edition of ARTiculation, is an article on the Indigenous Leadership, Excellence and Achievement Program (I-LEAP). This program aims to instill high-achieving Indigenous students at secondary and undergraduate levels with the self-confidence, leadership and academic skills required to perform successfully at University and beyond. I-LEAP is an important step towards addressing the chronic under-representation of Indigenous Australians in tertiary education and ultimately, in transforming the future of our Indigenous communities. I-LEAP is funded by generous donations from our alumni and other supporters. If you would like to help, please consider making a financial contribution to the I-LEAP program.

Also within this edition is an article on the Bachelor of Arts (Extended), a pioneering degree run by several partners within The University of Melbourne, including the Faculty of Arts, Murrup Barak Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development, Trinity College and other residential colleges. This four-year program is designed in particular to recognise and assist Indigenous students with the complex transition both to University and to life in a busy city. It offers a unique blended program structure that both acknowledges and encourages students to approach learning through their own Indigenous perspectives.

It's always pleasing to celebrate the successes of our students and my congratulations go to second year Bachelor of Arts student and Chancellor’s Scholar, Paris Mordecai, who has been awarded a KPMG Indigenous Pathway Scholarship.

We also feature an article profiling Prof Tony Birch, an author, activist and academic who holds the Inaugural Bruce McGuinness Indigenous Research Fellowship. Tony undertook his Arts Degree at Melbourne (with majors in history and literature) as a mature-aged student in the late 1980s. I'm sure you will enjoy reading his reflections on this experience and in particular, the skills Tony credits to his Arts degree that have proved useful throughout his career.

The current work of the Faculty's Research Unit for Indigenous Language (RUIL), the first of its kind in Australia, is also profiled in this issue. Led by Associate Professor Rachel Nordlinger, the RUIL is essential in preserving Australia's Indigenous linguistic heritage, of over 250 spoken languages. I send my thanks and those of the broader Faculty to the trustees of the estate of Mr Duncan Elphinstone McBryde Leary, whose generous bequest has enabled the Faculty to continue and expand its work on Indigenous language acquisition and conventions. This work is invaluable in helping preserve the ancient and varied dialects, the stories, history, culture and experiences they represent, and also in encouraging wider appreciation and knowledge of our Indigenous linguistic heritage.

I hope you enjoy this edition of ARTiculation.

Professor Mark Considine
Dean of Arts