On the 23rd of February, alumni gathered to celebrate the 12th annual Alumni and Friends evening at The Bouverie Centre. This yearly event offers Bouverie alumni the opportunity to reconnect with staff, government funders and partners to celebrate both Bouverie’s extensive and accomplished network and the value of work that The Bouverie Centre provides.
This year’s evening highlighted the immense impact of the Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy: First Nations. The event commenced with a unifying smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Di Kerr, which was followed by engaging speeches from La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, Director of The Bouverie Centre, Professor Jennifer McIntosh AM, retiring Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Graduate program, Banu Moloney, as well as many successful alumni.
The theme for the night was Reclaiming Renaming, Respect: Celebrating the future with wisdoms from our First Nations people. Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO acknowledged that La Trobe University supports the objectives of the Uluru statement from the heart, and that such a theme was very timely.
‘We're determined to continue our proud record of providing access to Indigenous students, supporting indigenous staff and working to benefit the indigenous communities that surround our campuses.’
In her speech, Jennifer McIntosh AM also confirmed that the centre’s mission continues to focus on protecting the values and traditions of First Nations people.
‘We gather to renew our commitment to keeping safe all First Nations people who connect with the work of the Bouverie Centre.’
Aunty Rhonda French, a Wiradjuri Woman, and Uncle Kevin, a multiclanned Koorie Elder at the Dandenong Courts with connections to Dja Dja Wurrung, Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung, Taungurong, Yorta Yorta and Waradjuri, expressed how completing the program had a profound impact on their personal and professional lives. They shared their passion for self-determination, and advocating for Aboriginal families and the rights of children – core values Bouverie embeds in its programs and mission.
‘We are moving steadily into an era of just digging our roots deeper into our purpose, ensuring that our relationship with the University creates a safe and vibrant home, that we all enjoy our work, and together do good things with and for our communities,’ said Professor Jennifer McIntosh AM.
The presence of La Trobe University and Bouverie Centre Graduate, Senator Jana Stewart, as alumni keynote speaker added to the significance of the event. The Proud Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba woman reflected on her time at Bouverie and spoke to the importance of the need for the Voice to Parliament.
'My time at the Bouverie Centre has had a significant influence on who I am today and how I navigate the world and my working life.' Senator Stewart said.
Musician John Wayne Parsons, a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man of both Yuggerabul and Kemer Kemer Meriam heritage, delivered a captivating performance that marked the end of the evening. Through his storytelling, he offered a distinctive and moving viewpoint on the multifaceted and diverse narratives of Australia's First Nations peoples.
The night was, at heart, an inspiring celebration of the wisdom and resilience of the First Nations peoples, as well as a much-needed reminder of the significance of continued efforts to empower First Nations communities and their people.
‘I am confident that the future of our First Nations work is in safe collective hands,’ said Professor Jennifer McIntosh AM.