Charles Darwin University’s three Indigenous centres are being given Aboriginal names during a series of ceremonies.
The centres house the Indigenous Academic Support Units (IASU) at Casuarina, Palmerston and Alice Springs campuses and the openings are taking place over the next two weeks, and began with the launch at Casuarina campus on Friday, 19 October.
Coordinator of the IASU, Roz Angeles said the naming of the Indigenous centres was significant and they had been allocated to help reinforce that CDU was a culturally safe environment where Indigenous students who were studying at either Higher Education or VTE levels could receive appropriate support during their learning journey.
Ms Angeles said that the Indigenous names had been identified after CDU’s observance of appropriate cultural protocol and extensive consultation with senior Larrakia people.
The opening of the Casuarina centre, named Gurinbey (pronounced Goor-in-bay), took place during a special ceremony on Friday 19 October.
Gurinbey is the Larrakia name for Rapid Creek, situated on the south-west boundary of the Casuarina campus. The name means “elbow” and refers to a bend near the mouth of the creek. During the early settlement of the Darwin region, the Christian Jesuits set up a school on the other side of Rapid Creek to educate and convert the Larrakia and other Aboriginal people.
The Alice Springs centre will be the second centre to be opened. It will be named Akaltye (pronounced A-cul-cha) and the event will be held on 26 October.
Akaltye is an Arrernte word for ‘learning, or to gain knowledge’ and the name has been used on the Alice Springs campus for many years, Ms Angeles said.
The Palmerston centre will take the name Duwun (pronounced Doo-wun) during the naming ceremony scheduled for 2 November.
Duwun is the name of an island on the western side of the Cox Peninsular. This was one of the traditional places where Larrakia people were educated by their elders in the early history of the area. Duwun is also the Larrakia name of the ancestor of one of the largest Larrakia families in the Darwin region. Darla, a road in the Palmerston suburb of Rosebery, is named after this ancestor.
Ms Angeles said it was important for Indigenous students to be able to identify a place on campus where they could receive support during their studies.
“Through the efforts of committed staff, the IASU helps Indigenous students adapt to the university environment and gain a better understanding of what is required of them in a Higher Education or VTE course,” she said.
“We arrange tutorial support and match tutors to student requirements through specific units of study. Our range of programs are designed to enhance students’ academic capabilities and provide them with increased personal and professional development opportunities as they progress through their studies.”
Ms Angeles said she expected the support offered at each centre would continue to grow over time.
“The opening of the new Indigenous Centres will encourage our Indigenous students to draw on the services we provide and allow us to focus on expanding our support programs.
“With the development of programs such as the Taste of Uni, CDU now has better access to Indigenous students through engagement with many urban, regional and remote schools in the Northern Territory and beyond,” she said.
“Students are able to get a real ‘taste’ of uni by participating in a range of hands-on activities hosted by various Faculty staff from both the VTE and Higher Education sectors of the University.”
As a result, Indigenous students were now represented in more undergraduate degree courses such as pharmacy and engineering.
“Through consistent and appropriate advice and support, the IASU team has contributed to students’ decisions to move into other areas of study, such as the sciences,” Ms Angeles said.