Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education (IKE) will be known from today as the National Indigenous Knowledges, Education, Research and Innovation Institute (NIKERI Institute), in a transition acknowledging the growing capabilities and expansion of the unique educational space.
NIKERI Institute will build upon the 33-year legacy created by IKE, and continue as a leader in the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples through Deakin’s unique community-based learning model.
Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said the University was committed to providing a culturally respectful and supportive space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students to learn and flourish.
“Deakin recognises the special role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have in telling the broader Australian story. Our pride in our unique cultural heritage is an important part of how Deakin builds a strong sense of community and place – where we share our knowledge and experience, and learn from each other,” Professor Martin said.
Directed by a council of Elders and respected persons in this field, Deakin was the first university in Australia to recognise the primacy of Indigenous Knowledges as a knowledge system within its own right. For more than three decades, the community- based education programs at IKE have given Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People the flexibility to gain access to higher education while still maintaining family and community obligations.
“Today, Deakin continues this commitment under the guidance of inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor for Indigenous Strategy and Innovation, Professor Mark Rose. I am honoured to stand here today reaffirming and extending our commitment to Indigenous Australians and look forward to working with Professor Rose and his team as we continue on a journey to raise the voice and influence of all First Nations Peoples,” Professor Martin said.
NIKERI Institute Director Associate Professor Gabrielle Fletcher said the new name was an exciting development for the Institute, reflecting Deakin’s national presence in the Indigenous learning space.
“We’re taking an excellent base and setting the course for NIKERI Institute to be a true centre of excellence in Indigenous Knowledges,” Associate Professor Fletcher said.
“Respectful relationships and the significant place of our local communities will continue to be part of our core business. We have been left a wonderful legacy in what IKE’s built, and we will develop this further as we honour our past and expand our core business as we move into the future.
“Importantly, the name change reflects the national footprint of what we do – we are a culturally safe learning space where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can come to pursue a tertiary education.”
Associate Professor Fletcher said there were a number of plans already in the works for the newly named Institute.
“This exciting shift will broaden the scope of teaching, learning, research and innovation in Indigenous higher education here at Deakin and beyond,” she said.
“We want to see more research come out of NIKERI Institute to showcase the value and Australian First Nations Knowledge Systems, cultures, traditions, histories, perspectives and insights.”
“Our graduates currently work in many areas across the nation’s Communities including nursing, teaching, social work, natural and cultural resource management and law.”
NIKERI Institute will continue with its unique Community Based Delivery model, where students take part in several on-campus week-long intensive study blocks throughout the year, then return home to continue their studies while maintaining family, work and community commitments. More than 1000 indigenous students have graduated from NIKERI Institute to date.
“We know this model works extremely well for our students – affording them access to higher education and the time to maintain family, work and Community commitments,” Associate Professor Fletcher said.
“Community Based Delivery is one of our great strengths, and this was acknowledged with the National Dreamtime Award last year.”
“Moving forward, I also see expansion of the subjects we offer to the boarder student cohort. This is critical to fostering productive and meaningful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and all other Australians to ensure we work together in forging a shared contemporary Australian narrative.”
Deakin students from across all disciplines can also enrol in NIKERI Institute Indigenous studies units – Introduction to Aboriginal Studies and Aboriginal Knowledge and Experiences – delivered by NIKERI Institute’s Indigenous academics.