EWB Australia enables a volunteer group to focus learning on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, developing knowledge and insights to inform the co-creation and implementation of a range of national and local initiatives. Known as the Engineering on Country Knowledge Hub, it provides a critical contribution to our EoC commitment, with a national group supported by localised EoC focus groups spanning Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Western Australia and Victoria.
At the beginning of 2019, representatives from each focus group travelled to Canberra for the ‘EoC Knowledge Hub Retreat’. Building on the momentum of this deep weekend of reflection, training and planning, the focus groups have been active in facilitating learning opportunities for the broader EWB Australia network.
In May, cultural awareness and learning were the key focus. Queensland, New South Wales focus groups organised Cultural Awareness training sessions, facilitated by Tom Kirk, and attended by 40 EWB Chapter executives and volunteers (60 % students, 53 % female identifying). Many of the attendees participated as a pre-requisite to delivering Indigenous-tailored content as part of EWB Australia’s School Outreach program. The training was run as a yarn, with Tom encouraging free flowing of questions and discussion. Conversations explored ‘what is culture?’, an outline of conventional issues, themes and histories in Torres Strait Islander Australia and communities, and an exploration of high and low context ways of thinking and operating.
It was incredibly insightful, engaging and eye opening, with quite confronting undertones. QLD Training Attendee
After the finale role playing exercise explained above some participants stated they felt “deeply shameful” for the early settelers actions and experienced increased empathy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. QLD Training Attendee
The EoC focus groups have also been active in delivering:
- Cultural walks – a Birrarung Wilam Guided Walk provided an opportunity to learn about history and culture of Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation and consider the way engineering supports and inhibits cultural expression
- Cultural competency coursework – Wrap up of NSW Focus Group Aboriginal Sydney MOOC- This course explores some of the key themes and capabilities of cultural competence by exploring Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney. The focus group have been completing this as a team over the last few months.
- Strategic workshops – with Indigenous Workplace Consultants to provide input into the EWB Australia EoC Strategy
- Localised contextual analysis – reviewing issues and opportunities relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in local EoC focus group areas, to assist in focusing their local activities and informing EWB’s EoC broader program.
The EOC Knowledge Hub and it’s supporting local focus groups are a potent example of how our committed volunteer network collaborates to contribute to meaningful, impactful change. Want to be a part of our EoC commitment? Contact Allan Soo, Secretary, EoC Knowledge Hubs.