Saturday, 12 September 2015

Supporting Black Women in Business: Terri Waller, SevGen and the Boomerang Bus

By Trudie Broderick, 2nd year MDP student

A few months ago I was really excited to be heading home to complete my final placement.  I can’t believe just how quickly this time has gone by. At the start of the degree, I didn’t really know what to expect or what would happen. Two years later, and I can finally see the finish line.  It’s been really nice to surround myself with the familiarity of friends and family who have been a great support over the last couple of years.  Being with them over the last stage of this degree just seemed right.
Trudie (L) and Terri Waller (R)
During my last month at home, I attended the Education is the Way Symposium held by the University of Sunshine Coast.  The Symposium discussed barriers to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and practice into post-secondary education models. Many of these discussions inevitably diverted from post-secondary education to education for children and young people and systemic alienation and marginalization.  The solutions often revolving around the use of traditional languages and culture throughout all levels of education beginning in the home and at the early childhood stages of formal education.

While at the symposium, I heard a talk about business marketing and development.  The discussion highlighted entrepreneurial endeavours in education.  It was here that I had the opportunity to hear Terri Waller talk about her Charitable Organisation "SevGen".  Terri is a DTulua woman from the Coral Coast of Central Queensland.  It was refreshing to hear Terri talk about her bold and creative ideas around developing educational tools for First Nations kids.

SevGen is built on the concept of thinking seven generations into the future to ensure we consider the long term effects of our decisions and actions on our grandchildren's grandchildren's grandchildren. The organisation aims to address the deficit in conventional methods of teaching and education.  SevGen incorporates culture and traditional learning practices into developing attitudes to learning, and the skills and knowledges of students in the program. Recognizing the need for flexibility and the importance of experiential learning, SevGen encourages students to play autonomously in passion and with purpose always (PAPPA).

Using props such as the Boomerang Bus, educational outcomes are improved as kids learn from fun and engaging delivery of content that is rich in Indigenous perspectives and teachers also receive professional development through observing ways to embed Indigenous perspectives into learning topics and teaching practise.  I also appreciated hearing Terri talk about the importance of ensuring that SevGen operates from a business based approach operating social enterprise ventures to fund their work.  In doing so, it is able to operate without losing its perspective and the concepts fundamental to the program.  Maintaining financial independence allows SevGen to continue to function in a way that is true to its vision.

Boomerang Bus

To learn more about SevGen at:

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Internship Experience at the United Nations University- Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

By Oluwabusola Olaniyan, 1st year MDP student

“Our environment must be protected by all means!” This has been my song since I became aware of the words “climate change” and “sustainability.”  In fact, the dynamic interactions between us, our environment and the earth as a whole are fascinating, but worrisome is the rocketing nature of humankind towards an unrecognisable existence. Therefore, it is imperative to understand and address environmental issues beyond the local, state, and national levels into an international level and this work experience is what I acquired in UNU-INWEH as a research intern.

In fulfilment of my study plan and towards earning an academic credit for the partial fulfilment of my Master’s program, I served as a secondary research intern at the Water and Human Development sector of the UNU-INWEH, an organisation that acts as the “United Nations’ Think Tank on water.”

My research examined global wastewater production and statistically analysed the results of the study. The credible research outcomes are relevant to respond directly to regional and global water crisis that facilitate efforts to meet UN Development goals. To an extent, the research results provide scientifically based evidence and knowledge to help resolve the global pressing water needs and thus, accelerate solutions to world challenges at the interface of water and development practice. The significance of the research is the centrality of water to sustainable development. Basically for the research, data were collected, organized, mined, managed, synthesized and analysed using excel spreadsheets and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). This way, the data analysis and synthesis provided insights, taking the research beyond pure facts. 

One of the most significant aspects of my internship was being surrounded by a network of passionate people whose main mission is to make differences in society by providing effective solutions through research methods. This allowed me to learn more from them, and helped me to understand the necessity to apply research for resolving problems in development matters. 

Finally, I was presented with a distinction award for the successful completion of the research.

UNU-INWEH Director, Dr. Zafar Adeel presenting award to Oluwabusola .

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Australia, First Peoples & Change

By Trudie Broderick, 2nd year MDP student

Australia’s Indigenous population consists of mainland Aboriginal communities and Torres Strait Island communities in the far north east of the country.  Still recovering from the impact of the Northern Territory intervention, First Nations communities in Australia have been confronted with new challenges over the past two years. The forced closures of more than 100 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia has resonated throughout the country.  The closures coincide with two other major legal shifts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  The first is the deregistration of 21 previously heritage listed sacred sites in the resource rich region - the world’s oldest rock art was among them.  Secondly, the federal government, in partnership companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are supporting the push for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution.

It is well established that Indigenous women are often disproportionately affected by government decisions such as these. Murri Mura Inc. a community organization in Brisbane, Australia, is in the process of developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Council of Queensland (ATSIWCQ) to ensure a voice within the political arena.

Aunty Mary Graham and Trudie Broderick
Murri Mura Inc. was created by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  It has a long history of political activism in Brisbane and currently works to develop the capacity of the local community.  During my placement with the agency, I worked with Elder, Aunty Mary Graham on innovative developments as a means to building on the existing skills of local First Nations communities.  The main focus of my placement has been to examine Australia’s current political climate and its impact on Indigenous women.  With this in mind, I examined legal structures that might support the entity’s current and future needs.

As a meeting space Murri Mura offered a place for women Elders in the community to develop the ATSIWCQ.  As part of this process, it was critical to approach all decisions for a position of strength, comfortable in the knowledge that our sovereignty is unceded and we therefore have the capacity and the ability to determine for ourselves the most appropriate governing tools.  In this we considered a broad range of issues impacting First Nations women including, our roles as women within the community, participation in politics and governance.  This means continuing to challenge oppressive policies, enhancing our economic independence and prosperity, challenging racism, sexual, domestic and all other forms of violence against First Nations women in Australia.