Aboriginal women who continue to be sidelined by workplace bullying. No due process.
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On Friday the 13th of July 2018, the Director of the University of New South Wales- Nura Gili Indigenous program unit Ruben Bolt terminated the employment of a proud Aboriginal woman, Lowanna Moran from her position as Indigenous Support Officer. Disappointingly, Lowanna was not afforded due process during the termination - UNSW policy and procedure was not followed and no option of recourse was given.
A culmination of workplace bullying and targeting led to this dismissal, coming as a particular blow during NAIDOC week, of which this year’s theme is ‘Because of her we can’. Please sign the petition and stand with Lowanna and all Aboriginal women who continue to be sidelined by workplace bullying and denial of due process.
UNSW policy and procedure was not followed during the process of terminating Lowanna. The process of termination involved Lowanna receiving an email on Monday the 9th of July at 11:19pm. Lowanna was given until 5pm Wednesday to reply and then dismissed on Friday at 4pm. Known to supervisors, Lowanna was unable to respond thoughtfully by the Wednesday designated as during this period Nura Gili was holding its 2018 Winter School program. The program accounts for approximately 110 Indigenous students from across the country. Lowanna performed the role of night coordinator, staying with these students overnight and outside of her regular work hours. Lowanna during the duration of UNSW Indigenous winter school program was also noted down on all information packs and booklets as a contact during the program.
While Lowanna often took on extra roles and went above and beyond showing her commitment to students and her community, the nature of her role impeded a proper response to the email received. The email also states that it was hand delivered which is obviously not the case.
Many Indigenous students at UNSW have found safety, trust, relationship building, confidence and truth in Lowanna through her role as an Indigenous Support Officer and look up to her as a positive role model. In recognising that Indigenous youth hold one of the highest rates of mental health issues in the world, the role of a Support Officer is integral to assisting students in successfully progressing through their studies. After having her employment terminated, Lowanna was not afforded the opportunity to appropriately and respectfully say goodbye to the students she worked significantly close with, denying stability to students who are in need of it the most. Students witnessing the unfair termination of a close support person in no way instils a sense of trust in the institution, especially one with a history of compounded institutional racism and sexism.
Lowanna completed her Education degree at UNSW and went on to teach in high schools. During her time working with Nura Gili Lowanna has developed a number of professional relationships built on a mutual respect with external stakeholders as well as members of the many faculties and units within the university particularly those such as ARC, Law, Business, Education, Social work, UNSW Art & Design and Student Support.
All of this serves to prove that in her role as Indigenous Support Officer, Lowanna has shown herself to be a positive role model for the Indigenous students she provides support to. Lowanna was active within her role and professional in suggesting innovative ideas, as a result she was bullied in the workplace. She tried to use the avenues afforded to her and put forward a complaint to her boss’s supervisor which was again was dealt with irresponsibly and inappropriately with Lowanna being told that the complaint would be handled in-house. We feel that the grounds of dismissal are on the most part false statements with no formal documentation or evidence to back up these claims.
Please note this petition has been put together by Indigenous people in support of an Indigenous woman #becauseofherwecan. Please take two seconds to sign our petition in solidarity with Lowanna.
For anyone interested in reading more about Lowanna’s contributions, here is a list of some of the outstanding work Lowanna did for UNSW Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit:
-Supported and advocated for student led projects
-Supported students with educational needs such as writing skills, referencing and putting together lesson plans in preparation for student practice
- Supported the mental health needs of students, particularly preventing our students from attempting suicide
- Advocated for the student body in increasing retention rates at the University of New South Wales
- Built community relationships with university and provided opportunities for Non-Indigenous students to be involved in working with our communities
- Ensured connections with graduated, and current students - Internally Advocated for student’s rights, such as informing the Nura Gili office space of integrity and respect for the students. Particularly highlighting a breach of confidentiality and how Nura Gili discuss student personal matters in the common area of the staff room and laughing about students
- Assisted in outreach and recruitment, such as Winter School
- Wrote and conducted an alumni profile for Nura Gili Indigenous program unit
- Created a culturally safe space for students which for many years this university was / is lacking
- Attended events to support students during educational projects
- Assisted students with accommodation
- Built relationships with those who accommodate Nura Gili Students - Assisted students with international opportunities
- Assisted students with obtaining employment opportunities
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