In an ideal world we wouldn't have tobuild strategies and targets to ensure that we have equality and diversity within our organisations.
To me an equal world means people are safe from harm, they are valued heard and represented in leadership, are paid equally and are given the opportunity and support to succeed no matter their gender, sexuality, ability or cultural background.
But just as important as looking to equality is the concept of equity. The principle of equity acknowledges and recognises that there are historically underserved and unrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality of outcomes.
This means we need to pay particular attention and provide additional resources to traditionally disenfranchised populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, but we also need to do this within a strengths framework rather than deficit models and rhetoric that often prevails.
When I was studying nursing in the 70s the role of women was very different. It was our job to tidy the surgeons change rooms and scrub their boots and at the same time I have vivid memory of not being able to get a bank loan because I was a single woman. So many things have changed but we have still a long way to go, and we stand on fragile grounds, we can't take anything for granted.
Throughout the world we have seen tragic demonstrations of structural racism, the rise of misogyny, prejudice and stigma. We can never forget those harmful effects on society and the cumulative impact of traumatic experiences on people of colour. We can't change what is behind us but we can certainly shape our future.
We can create one that is more equitable and just. Our 2020-25 strategic plan recognises our culture as a strategic enabler, which is critical for ensuring our vision for the future. The University of Wollongong is committed to providing a respectful workplace where everyone feels safe valued and respected. Mutual respect and diversity is one of the University of Wollongong's core values.
Our values should drive everything we do, how we communicate and collaborate with one another and who we recruit and partner with. Our approach at the University of Wollongong is directed by creating shared responsibility. It combines a range of evaluation strategies including external review, reporting policy review and ground up approaches to incorporate insights from all staff.
The University of Wollongong has policies programs and networks in place to guide us, and this is shown in the achievements of the university. The University of Wollongong has been recognised as an employer of choice for gender equality and received a bronze award by the Australian workplace equality index. Despite all of this we still have work to do.
No organisation is free of inequalities, as a large organisation with more than 2700 staff, representing many countries, the University of Wollongong understands the value of celebrating diversity and integrating inclusive practices into all areas of employee engagement including recruitment, learning, development and leadership.
Promoting diversity promotes engagement of people from different parts of life but it is also important that we consider diversity, equity and inclusion in our communities. The University of Wollongong is committed to a workplace where our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultures, beliefs and knowledge are embraced and embedded. I was deeply moved and inspired when I attended and participated in a traditional welcome to country smoking ceremony at Woolyungah Indigenous Centre on my very first day at the University of Wollongong. It is an experience I will never forget. The wisdom and dignity of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians should be a guide to all of us.
Diversity makes us better problem solvers. When we include people from different backgrounds, expertise, career stages and those with lived experiences in our research then we can find much more holistic solutions to complex challenges. A key objective of the University of Wollongong's strategic plan is to address historical inequities by increasing the diversity of academic appointments.
Increasing diversity in teaching is also so important to our student experience and to ensure all students establish a feeling of belonging. We are proud to count some of the world's best female scientists, business women and academics as part of our community I look forward to seeing more diversity in research at the University of Wollongong.
My goal is to increase the progression of women and other underrepresented groups. I've already observed the resilience and the strength of this institution and believe that we have the power to collectively chart a more equal, diverse and inclusive future.
I feel optimistic and energised to drive positive social change at the University and in our local and global communities.
I'm looking forward to being deeply involved in dialogue and strategies to ensure we get closer to creating the organisation and community that we are all striving for.