Named in honour of late Yorta Yorta leader and political activist, William Cooper, Monash University has opened the William Cooper Institute, a hub dedicated to increasing outcomes and improving opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
Formally launched late last week, the Institute builds on Monash’s previous successes as the first university in the country to have a dedicated Indigenous centre.
“For almost 55 years we’ve engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to improve their lives through our education and research. We’re proud of this legacy, but we know we can, and must, do more,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President (Education), Professor Susan Elliott AM.
With a shared vision of social justice, Monash is hoping to open a new chapter in the university’s history that grows an environment of respectful reconciliation through the Institute’s research and teaching.
“Monash is committed to fostering a society that respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and knowledges, and works towards addressing the legacies of the past,” said Monash Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), Professor Jacinta Elston.
“Through our teaching, research and community engagement, the William Cooper Institute will make substantial contributions to reconciliation, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples and communities.”
There are hopes the new Institute will increase Indigenous student participation and support their academic success.
“We’re committed to elevating Indigenous access in higher education through engagement programs with secondary schools and Indigenous community organisations,” said Jamile Tye, Director of Indigenous Engagement at Monash.
A Yorta Yorta man and direct descendent of William Cooper’s sister, Ada Cooper, Mr Tye said the university hopes to create a greater awareness of the pathways, scholarships and other support services available to prospective and current Indigenous students.
Coinciding with the Institute’s launch is the announcement of Monash’s Master of Indigenous Business Leadership.
Designed in collaboration with the William Cooper Institute and the Monash Business School, the program aims to strengthen and build the capacity of the Indigenous workforce across Australia.
Set to begin in 2020, program participants will learn in Indigenous cohorts to explore the way Indigenous business is experienced by communities in different cultural, economic and political environments.
Professor Elston said the new Master’s seeks to address the shortage of graduate education leadership opportunities for First Nations Peoples in Australia.
“The Master of Indigenous Business Leadership is built on a combination of business leadership content and electives from the arts, law, and public health fields, so students can develop the advanced skills they need to launch themselves into the next phase of their professional career,” Professor Elston said.
The Professor also said by moulding teaching and learning to Indigenous students needs through and Indigenous lens, the Master’s program will strengthen and advance participants capabilities and mindsets.
Head of the Monash Business School, Professor Simon Wilkie, agreed.
“Through the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership, we’ll contribute to cultivating the next generation of Indigenous business leaders to create lasting impact in their communities and shape the future of Indigenous Australia,” Professor Wilkie said.
Monash Aboriginal Elder in Residence, Aunty Diane Singh, said she looks forward to future contributions to Indigenous communities through the William Cooper Institute.
“I’m incredibly proud of how far Monash has come in its endeavour to provide an education and research experience that is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, histories and cultures,” Aunty Diane said.
For more information about the William Cooper Institute and the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership, visit: https://www.monash.edu/william-cooper.