Congratulations to the Two-Way Project who received the Clare Burton Award for Excellence in Equity and Diversity from the VC in November 2020. The Two-Way Project is a ground-breaking initiative designed by a stellar team led by Dr Kirrily Jordan with A/Prof Alison Alder (SOAD), Dr Annick Thomassin (CAEPR), Adele Cameron, Sanne Carroll, Lucy Irvine (SOAD), Denise Angelo (SLLL), A/Prof Deirdre Howard-Wagner (CAEPR) and Dr Sean Perera (GSS). The team has been working alongside incredible community partners to build bridges between ANU and First Nations women in the ACT through arts and culture programs on and off-campus. Designed jointly with participants, these programs include screen-printing, possum skin cloak making, weaving and drawing. A/Prof Alder has led the screen-printing sessions at SOAD. Guringai artist Amanda Jane Reynolds and Wiradjuri storyteller Larry Brandy have facilitated the project’s outreach workshops with the Women’s Group and Mums & Bubs Group of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service and Kalkadoon Pitta Pitta textile artist Ronnie Jordan facilitates the project’s weekly outreach to Aboriginal women at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
The project promotes equal opportunity for First Nations women by transforming the way the University operates, reaching out to otherwise ‘hard to reach’ women through a novel and grounded approach to equity and diversity. It recognises that art practice offers an invaluable opportunity for community engagement and two-way learning that celebrates the participants’ diverse skills and vast cultural and community knowledges on a par with academic expertise. It simultaneously creates sustained benefits for participants through skill-sharing, art production, recording of cultural knowledge and potential pathways for participation in other ANU programs. Former ACT Chief Minister, and advisor to Winnunga’s board, Jon Stanhope AO describes the project as being of ‘inestimable value’.
This important female-centred project rests on the quiet determination, expertise, and dedication of the project team, including community partners and ANU staff and students spanning across undergraduate, HDR, ECR and established academic roles. Special thanks are also due to Samantha Keaton, Nicole Donnelly and Julie Tongs for making the Winnunga workshops possible; to David Witham, Vanessa Pece and Carla Knight at AMC; and to the Commonwealth Office for the Arts for funding the project through their Indigenous Languages and Arts Program. The team’s commitment to two-way learning challenges academic norms, builds ANU’s capacity to engage in inventive cultural practices and supports First Nations knowledge production and cultural reclamation. It recognises ANU’s responsibilities to First Peoples in Canberra and beyond.
The women’s outstanding artwork will be exhibited at SOAD in August 2021.