The VC Patricia Davidson at UOW Smoking Ceremony

New respectful work arrangement for Australia Day

New respectful work arrangement for Australia Day

UOW employees will have the flexibility to work on 26 January instead of taking the day off in a show of respect for First Nations people

A couple of years ago, a poll asked Australians about their attitudes towards Australia Day, celebrated on 26 January to mark the date that a British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony. Most people said they associated the day with barbecue, celebrations and holidays. But for Indigenous Australians, this date translated to something quite the opposite: invasion, survival and murder.

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has long been committed to advancing reconciliation in Australia and inspiring a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities through education, research and partnership.

This year, the University’s leadership acknowledged that 26 January is not a celebration day for all Australians, recognising the turbulent history around that date and the painful associations it may have for Indigenous communities.

That’s why, out of respect for all First Nations peoples, in January 2023, all fixed-term and permanent employees of the University will have the flexibility to work on 26 January instead of taking the day as a public holiday.

Those UOW employees who choose to work on 26 January may select a substitute day for the public holiday on either Friday 27 January or Monday 30 January. The change in working arrangements has been agreed to by the University’s staff unions.

UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson said this decision is an important step in ensuring UOW staff’s diverse perspectives are valued and respected.

“I am hopeful that 2023 will provide us with outcomes that unite all Australians through a referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution,” Professor Davidson said.

The University is committed to advancing the reconciliation journey.

UOW’s Woolyungah Indigenous Centre (WIC) is a central hub for Indigenous student access and support activities, teaching, learning and research in Indigenous studies, and a visible centre for engagement with the Indigenous community.

In March 2022, the University launched its UOW Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2022 – 2024 to build stronger relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples within the University and beyond. The plan provides guidelines for learning, teaching and working environments free from racism and discrimination and embraces a united approach to equality and inclusiveness.

In April 2022, UOW reaffirmed its commitment to an equitable and fair future for First Nations people by issuing official support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The decision reflects the University’s commitment to its First Nations students and staff and ongoing support for the process of truth-telling and Constitutional reform that underpins the Uluru Statement.