Cultivating a strong connection with the land on which Queensland University of Technology sits is a priority for new Elder-in-Residence Gregory Egert.
Known as Uncle Cheg, the Aboriginal man from Yugara and Goenpul country, has lived in and around Brisbane for all of his life and says his stories about building relationships with the land and the community can benefit everyone.
As an Elder-in-Residence at QUT, Uncle Cheg will provide an important link and knowledge base for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian staff and students. It will also increase engagement with community Elders.
“When I was first approached by QUT to become an Elder-in-Residence I was very interested in the prospect of being able to connect QUT to the land and the traditional owners in the area,” Uncle Cheg said. “My grandfather always said as you grow up you will be on a journey and it’s your journey to tell. I look forward to telling my interpretation of these stories to the QUT community.”
The Elders-in-Residence program is a key initiative of the university’s Indigenous Employment Strategy which is a commitment to creating a culturally safe and inclusive working environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
QUT Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) Angela Barney-Leitch said she reached out to Uncle Cheg because she knew of his work and impact within south east Queensland Indigenous Australian community where the QUT campuses are based.
“This appointment demonstrates the respect and recognition of the culture, knowledge and experience of Yugara and Turrbal people and more widely the QUT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees,” Ms Barney-Leitch said.
“I look forward to working with Uncle Cheg and continuing to grow our connections.”
Uncle Cheg is a Senior Member, Specialist Support at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Independent Community School (Murri School) at Acacia Ridge.
During his time with QUT he has assisted with school visits, attended the passing the yarn program and advised students involved with a campus walk program. In the future, Uncle Cheg will be running regular sessions with Indigenous Australian students and take part in welcomes to country for significant events, ceremonies and graduations.
“Having an Elder at the university is a significant step in the right direction in understanding the role Indigenous Australians have played in this area,” Uncle Cheg said. “I’m excited about the direction this university is taking with the development of the First Nations institute and the appointment of Angela Barney-Leitch as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy).
“This is a significant step in QUT’s journey.”
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