After consultation with representatives from the ACT’s four Indigenous groups, it was announced on Wednesday that the redeveloped Union Court will be named Kambri.
Kambri is the Indigenous language name for Sullivans Creek, the body of water that runs through the university. It’s also the word that ‘Canberra’ is derived from.
“For thousands of years, Aboriginal people came together, shared stories and learnt at the places we now call ANU and Sullivans Creek,” vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said as he received the gift.
“Kambri will be a meeting place like no other in the world, providing a space for Indigenous culture to live within the social fabric of ANU and the greater Canberra community.”
Ngambri-Ngunnawal-Canberra Indigenous Australian elder Matilda House gifted the name to the university during the State of the University address at Llewellyn Hall.
The Indigenous Australian representatives involved included those from the Little Gudgenby River Tribal Council, Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation, King Brown Tribal Group, and the Ngarigu Currawong Clan.
The name was announced in a special ceremony involving Indigenous Australian dancers at Schmidt’s address on Wednesday.
The renaming comes after deputy vice-chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington announced last year that a special Naming Committee, which includes undergraduate and postgraduate representatives, would reinvigorate the labels of reconstructed buildings, streets and common areas.
The stated aim was to include more Indigenous Australian and female representation. As part of the initiative, late last year ANU sought advice from students and staff on what to name three new streets in the precinct, specifically seeking the names of any women who have significantly contributed to the university. In lieu of new names, the streets are currently called North Loop Road, West Loop Road and Chifley Lane.
Schmidt announced the renaming as part of the university’s new Reconciliation Action Plan, which aims to increase the number of Indigenous Australians students at ANU to three per cent:
“An area we urgently need to address in the number of our staff and students who come from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. This number needs to increase,” Schmidt wrote in the foreword to the plan.
Currently, only 0.95 per cent of domestic students at ANU identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
As part of the action plan, more resources will be pushed towards recognising National Reconciliation Week, and guidelines will be developed to ensure that an Acknowledgement to Country is spoken at all “important internal and external meetings”.
The plan is wide-reaching: it also aims to increase the amount of Indigenous Australian material in the university curricula, and provide every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander honours student with a $10,000 scholarship.
You can read the full plan here.