The University of Sydney, the country's oldest tertiary institution, has released a major new strategy aimed at significantly improving rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in higher education, research and engagement.


The Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu, meaning "thinking path to make tomorrow", forms a core part of the university's overall Strategic Plan 2011-2015, aims to expand the Aboriginal education, research and engagement to become part of the core activity of the University.


Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, co-launched the strategy with NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir.


"If we don't tap the potential of large sections of our population, we're underselling not only them and their capability, we're underselling the nation," Senator Evans said.  


Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence saidthat much of the thinking behind the development of the strategy, which followed a major review of Indigenous Education commissioned by the University in 2008, had considered what it would mean to be an Australian university - in the sense of understanding Australia as a partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians, and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.


"I wanted to work at a university that could help educate all Australians for that future," he said. "This is the moment that we celebrate together that we are launching something new in the life of this remarkable institution."


"The University's approach is not built on a discourse of disadvantage, it does not start by describing Aboriginal peoples as a collection of problems or deficits, but rather it recognises rights, builds capability and creates opportunity," Dr Spence said.


Targets in the strategy include accomplishing the following by 2015:

  • doubling the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying at Sydney from 206 undergraduates (as at March 2012)
  • employing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic staff complement of 75 (currently 15) and a general staff complement of 97 (currently 23)
  • increasing the number of staff and students engaged in research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues by at least 40 percent
  • lifting funding from all sources for research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander areas by at least 25 percent
  • ensuring that all new and existing staff take part in cross-cultural training.


The complete version of the University's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Integrated Strategy is available online at