An Interview with QUT Guild First Nations Officer: Jennifer Barnaby

At QUT Guild’s second last council meeting, Jennifer Barnaby was voted in to fill the casual vacancy of First Nations Officer. We sat down with Jen to speak to her about her first month in the Guild and her outlook on her term ahead.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jennifer:

I am Jennifer Barnaby. I am in my third year of Bachelor of Business, majoring in Economics and Justice. I Am a proud aboriginal woman from Wakka-Wakka tribe from the North Burnett region of Queensland.

How have your first months been with the Guild? 

My first month of working for Guild has been the most eye-opening experience. Before I started working for the students I honestly thought that the Guild did not care about Indigenous issues and only had the position to tick a box and cared more about the other roles like the sexuality portfolio. But I can say, I was completely wrong about the Guild and the project that each member of the works is for the benefit of all students and creating change, each person that is on the Guild is not in it for themselves.  

What are you most looking forward to enacting during your term? 

I Am most looking forward to redeveloping a Reconciliation Action Plan and bridging the gap the between the Indigenous student community at QUT and Guild and how both parties can benefit from the relationship.  

First Nations issues have been in the spotlight (as they should be) as of late. What are you making of all the noise that’s going on at the moment? 

The Issues that was been in the spotlight recently, have always been there and they will be continuing to be there until change happens. They haven’t had the spotlight they need, or people chose to ignore them. Our country has a very dark history, and Australians need to understand this. Non-indigenous people have the privilege to educate themselves about the issues and not just say it doesn’t involve me so why should I care.

You attended the Indigenous Lives Matter protest alongside myself and other Guild members, how did that event make you feel? 

The event made me reflect on my journey and my family’s journey, and other Indigenous family journeys. Australia journey is just starting, from the look of all the protest on the weekend it shows that Australia wants to change as well, but there is massive problem in the way of moving forward.

The QUT Administration has issued a statement on the movement, do you think that they’re doing enough?

QUT administration approached the issues with respect and understanding of the Indigenous student and they used their Blueprint as a guide for the statement to the student. I personally see QUT as one of the better universities when it comes to dealing with their Indigenous Issues, QUT has its very own Indigenous strategy which deals with how the university had to approach this issues. I understand QUT for remaining silent until they figured out what they would to say and consultant with students and staff on the topic, but am glad they spoke out. 

What other forms of reconciliation would you like to see at QUT? 

QUT has a blueprint 6 which is their 10-year plan for reconciliation, so they are looking forward 10 years and have a continued plan for what is ahead for the university. 

What other forms of reconciliation would you like to see at the QUT Guild? 

I would like to see to the QUT guild enact their reconciliation action plan and continue to move forward with the Indigenous issues and address them as much as possible. And educate Non-indigenous of the issues that arise at the University as a whole.

I want to talk about the Prime Minister and his recent comments regarding slavery in Australia. Do you think his public negligence interferes with the work that is being done and in what way? 

Our Prime Minister needs to educate himself. This pictures of colonisation say it all. What’s all this then, Scott? Photoshop?


Em Readman
Em Readman

Em Readman is a writer from Meanjin who lives in Boorloo. She has been published in Aniko Press, the Suburban Review, Bowen St Press, Baby Teeth Arts, and others. They were an editor of Glass Magazine in 2020 and 2021, and won the 2022 Blue Knot Foundation Award with the Hunter Writer's Centre.

Articles: 64

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