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USC pledges to close the gap

The University of the Sunshine Coast will host a Close the Gap event today (Thursday), as a call for action to address disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

Launched in 2008, Close the Gap day is a national campaign to boost the health, life expectancy and education opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents within a generation.

Starting with a welcome to country, the event at the Sippy Downs campus will feature a number of guest speakers, activities by Student Wellbeing services and invitations to sign the Close the Gap Pledge.

USC pro vice chancellor (students) Professor Karen Nelson said there would be both a staff and student focus at this year’s event.

“At USC, teachers have been embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives into the curriculum to integrate the traditional ways of knowing alongside the western knowledge system,” Nelson said.

“The aim is for all USC students to have encountered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and ways of knowing within their discipline by the time they graduate.

“We need to prepare non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to create a fairer and more just society,” she said.

“And if they have these experiences and develop an understanding of Australia’s history as a student they will be able to achieve this in their workplaces.”

Nelson said the day was an opportunity to stand beside Indigenous community members, staff, students and elders to reconfirm USC’s commitment to closing the gap.

“This is not a celebration, this is a visible call for action,” Nelson said.

In 2017, 3.6 percent of all students commencing study at USC were indigenous – above the national average of 2.1 per cent.

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