Launch of the Indigenous Knowledge Institute

Launch of the Indigenous Knowledge Institute, held during the 19th Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance

Remarks by Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell, delivered Thursday 3 December 2020

Thank you, Tiriki. I appreciate the welcome, and I thank everyone for attending this great event.

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which the University and its several campuses stand: the Wurundjeri people, the Boonwurrung people, the Dja Dja Warrung people and the Yorta Yorta people. I pay my respects to the Indigenous elders of all the lands from which today’s participants come, elders past, present and emerging.

It is my singular pleasure to be part of today’s launch of the Indigenous Knowledge Institute.

And I am very pleased that this launch has been arranged to chime in with today’s Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance.

As the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, I am incredibly proud of the many colleagues whose long and thoughtful work has been put into establishing the Indigenous Knowledge Institute. I’m also extremely grateful for the key relationships with Indigenous communities and organisations that will underpin the great work of this Institute.

I am also very grateful for the personal interest and support from many other members of the community, including the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt.

We think that the Indigenous Knowledge Institute will make a unique contribution to the world.

One of its important roles will be to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with real understanding of Indigenous knowledges of many kinds and from many places.

We hope that the Institute will establish a real presence on the global stage, and will play a role in public leadership around Indigenous knowledge at the national and international level.

This Indigenous Knowledge Institute will be dedicated to becoming a world centre and gathering place for Indigenous knowledge in all its forms.

It will respect and celebrate and, I hope, become a magnet for the knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, as well as knowledge held by First Nations people from around the world.

When I first announced the plan to form an Indigenous Knowledge Institute, I was attending my first ever Garma Festival with the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land, which was an enlightening and joyous experience for someone recently arrived from the UK.

It taught me that I had much to learn, and opened my eyes as to how much we can all learn from understanding Indigenous knowledges.

There I made a commitment on behalf of this University to ensure that as an institution we will honour, celebrate and teach Indigenous knowledge alongside the University’s other established knowledge traditions.

This is important to preserve and restore Indigenous knowledge, and to support the wider teaching and understanding of cultures which are the oldest on earth, and have too long been neglected, ignored, marginalised or forgotten in our universities and society.

The Indigenous Knowledge Institute is one way we continue to promote and advance Indigenous-led research in the multidisciplinary context of a great contemporary research university.

Today’s launch marks a very exciting new chapter in this commitment that I made on behalf of the University at Garma last year.

I would like to thank all those involved in making this happen, especially my brilliant Indigenous friends and colleagues. It has been a monumental effort, and one that will bring rich blessings to the world in future.