This once-in-a-generation infrastructure transformation allowed the University the opportunity embed reconciliation at scale, embracing reconciliation through urban design.
Underpinning the project was a vision to utilise the University’s expertise and resources to make a sustained contribution to Indigenous development for our Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
An extensive series of co-creation workshops with Indigenous stakeholder groups allowed rigorous review of the design and layout of the spaces, ensuring Indigenous cultures are celebrated and championed.
This approach to co-creation and co-design ensures that reconciliation is a driving force, shaping our future in a positive way to create a place in which the entire University community can feel proud.
The Identity Bricks Project invited Indigenous students, staff and alumni to share and embed their cultural stories and journeys in a permanent installation on the Parkville campus. Integrated into the structural columns of Building 189, the bricks serve as a creative recognition of this site as an Indigenous place with a continuing and diverse Indigenous presence.
Learn more about the Identity Bricks
Adorned across the floors of the Arts and Cultural Building is the Dreaming Story of the Seven Sisters. Designed by Victorian College of the Arts alumna Dr Ngardarb Riches, a descendant and Elder of the Bardi Jawi and Karajarri from the West Kimberley, the carpet artwork uses colour variation to reference land, sea and sky across ascending building levels, encouraging connection and engagement.
The species selection process involved careful curation of culturally significant plants, breathing new life into the Parkville campus and promoting cultural learning and reflection. Plants from all 45 Indigenous language groups represented among the University’s student cohort are planted throughout the site, holding cultural and ecological importance.
Indigenous Kitchen Garden
Within arm’s reach of the Student Kitchen on the rooftop terrace of the Student Pavilion is the Indigenous Kitchen Garden. Home to a host of edible and educational Indigenous plants and bush foods for consumption and use by students, the rooftop garden sprawls all around the level 4 rooftop and features only indigenous plants.
Rich Connections Revealed
The driving design narrative is the revealing of the eel migration path that traverses under the Parkville campus through the piped watercourses, echoing the memories, stories and histories of place. Winding grey mudbrick paths weave in and across the site, revealing the original Bouverie Creek waterway and mirroring the migration path of short-finned eels that provided food for Wurundjeri peoples for thousands of years.
Designed by University alumna Dr Ngardarb Riches, six large, custom-built steel tree grates reside in the north-west courtyard of 1888 Building. Capturing the six seasons the Kulin Nation recognised through observing markers and changes in the flora and fauna, these grates bring an Indigenous understanding of the natural environment into the University setting.
We are committed to fostering an environment in which the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their fellow Australians is characterised by a deep mutual respect, leading to positive change in our nation’s culture and capacity.
By embedding Indigenous cultures and knowledges in our learning and teaching, research and engagement initiatives, we promote an understanding of, and respect for, the traditions and perspectives of the many nations and language groups that make up Indigenous Australia.