Griffith takes lead with key First Nations role

Griffith University is looking to the future of Indigenous education with a newly appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor for Indigenous education.

Cindy Shannon Pro-Vice Chancellor for Indigenous education.

Cindy Shannon Pro-Vice Chancellor for Indigenous education.

Griffith University’s newly appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Cindy Shannon wants to build on the university’s reputation as a leader in Indigenous education.

Griffith has led the way nationally in its support for and numbers of First Nations students, celebrating diversity and encouraging participation, with Australia’s first tertiary student support unit (GUMURRII) for Indigenous Australians and the First Council of Elders.

With more than 1000 students the university also leads Queensland in indigenous student numbers.

“Griffith’s record in relation to the participation, retention and success of First Nations students demonstrates its commitment to equity and diversity, as well as excellence,’’ Professor Shannon said.

“We have some fantastic examples of students and staff who have joined the Griffith community and thrived, including Dr Kerry Bodle in the Griffith Business School, who is regularly called on to speak about Indigenous issues within the accounting and financial services industries.”

Dr Bodle was 38 when she finished her Bachelor of Business degree at Griffith. A descendant of Karendali (Thargomindah), Kalali (Conbar Outstation) and Waka Waka (Cherbourg) First Nation Peoples, she went on to complete her Honours in 2003, later enrolling in a doctorate degree and has recently been appointed Griffith Business School Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Academic Director.

“I am thrilled to be working with staff like Dr Bodle and Indigenous students across all campuses as well as building on the deep community partnerships at the Logan campus, which is where I’ll be based,” Professor Shannon said.

Professor Shannon is a Ngugi woman and descendant of the Quandamooka people. She was honoured on Australia Day, becoming a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to Indigenous health and to medical education”.

“I’m grateful for the recognition it gives to First Nations’ health,’’ Professor Shannon said.

“It also recognises the importance of education and training a workforce that is adequately equipped to work in this area.

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“This highlights what can be achieved through university and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community partnerships working together.”

Announced as a Queensland Great by the State Government in 2017, for a “significant service to Indigenous health and to medical education”, Professor Shannon’s appointment reflects Griffith’s commitment to ensuring the best for its First Nations students and staff and expanding the university’s social justice and equity agendas.

“I am delighted to be joining a university with such an excellent reputation and history in Indigenous higher education and look forward to being part of its exciting future,’’ Professor Shannon said.

Professor Shannon will work closely with Griffith’s Council of Elders and leadership of GUMURRII Student Support Unit, the Indigenous Research Unit and the Office of Indigenous Community Engagement, Policy and Partnerships and other key stakeholders.

Professor Shannon held the position of Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement) at the University of Queensland from 2011-2017 and held senior appointments at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Melbourne.

In addition to her academic and leadership roles, Professor Shannon has served on numerous health advisory boards.

She is Chair of the Queensland Ministerial Advisory Committee on Sexual Health, Chair of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation and a member of the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service Board. She is also current Chair of the Brisbane South Primary Health Network.

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