Jenna Woods Appointed Dean of the School of Indigenous Knowledges at Murdoch University

Jenna Woods Appointed Dean of the School of Indigenous Knowledges at Murdoch University

With a rich background in community development and a deep commitment to Indigenous culture, Jenna Woods, a proud Wardandi and Noongar woman, has been appointed as the Dean of the School of Indigenous Knowledges at Murdoch University. This prestigious role marks a significant milestone in Woods’ journey, which began at the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch University.

Jenna Woods’ story is one of resilience and determination. At the age of 18, she enrolled in a bridging course at the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre, a decision that set her on a path to study Community Development and Politics. Her personal and academic journey was anything but easy, shaped by numerous challenges.

In an interview with the National Indigenous Times, Woods reflected on her journey, noting that her appointment “gives me external validation of my experiences.” She shared her struggles, stating, “I had my son very young, I didn’t finish school … I was then a carer for mum who had cancer. I experienced really severe family violence, we were living in poverty.”

Woods’ resilience shines through as she recounts overcoming these hardships. “I always kind of felt like I wasn’t good enough and then coming here I really found myself through the bridging course and my studies. So to me, this appointment really is that external validation of how far I have come but also that it’s possible.”

She emphasized that experiencing hardship or disadvantage does not define a person’s character or capacity. “Just because you’re in a violent relationship doesn’t mean you’re a victim or weak, just because you’re in poverty or having those struggles does not mean you’re incompetent or any less valuable,” she said. “Failing school doesn’t mean you’re unintelligent, it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It just meant that the circumstances weren’t right for me, so for me, it’s more of a statement that we are not the circumstances that we exist in but that we have control of our futures.”

Woods hopes her appointment will inspire others. “I hope for my family and my community that is the message that is shared through my appointment, because growing up I wasn’t anyone special … and now I’m here at Murdoch as a Dean. If I can be here, I hope that everyone sees from that, that anyone can do it.”

Acknowledging the lack of education surrounding Indigenous interests, values, and ways of working in Australia, Woods expressed concern about the ignorance evident during the Voice to Parliament campaign. She highlighted the problematic nature of the “if you don’t know, vote no” slogan used by the ‘no’ side, calling the widespread lack of education on Indigenous affairs “confronting.”

“I don’t think that level of ignorance to be proud of is the way forward,” she said. “I would hope that universities now really step up in these spaces, to share that awareness and work on educating for a better tomorrow for everyone.”

As a lecturer in the Community Development program, Woods primarily teaches non-Indigenous students and has seen firsthand the impact of Indigenous learning in higher education. “I see how the sharing of those experiences and the sharing of our knowledges really stay with our students beyond the classroom,” she said. “Working with our students before they go into their professional roles plays a really significant part in how we move forward as a society. These are the people that are working with our families and children, having that education is central to how they engage with our Mob.”

Inspired by the resilience and strength of the women around her, Woods holds her family dear, acknowledging their influence on her worldview and teaching approach. As a mother of four, her experiences and family values shape her perspective and dedication to education.

Her advice for those considering higher education is a powerful reminder: “Your circumstances don’t define you. I think very often it’s easy to internalize the messages that were given throughout our lifetime.”

Woods encourages more Indigenous students to pursue higher education, emphasizing that university is accessible to everyone. “I encourage anyone who might be interested or wants a change in their lives to come down. All universities have Aboriginal centres, come down and have a yarn and see if it’s something that might work for you.”

Jenna Woods’ journey from a bridging course student to the Dean of the School of Indigenous Knowledges is a testament to her strength, resilience, and dedication. Her story serves as an inspiration, highlighting the importance of education, perseverance, and the transformative power of believing in oneself.

The National Indigenous Cultural Centre (NICC) is an Indigenous home.
We provide Indigenous products, music, art and news.
If you want Indigenous gifts and merchandise, bush tucker food at your next event or Indigenous entertainment at your next party, expo or conference, feel free to contact us!

Visit our page:
Tony Clemenger.
Chief Executive Officer.
Tel: 0419431649.
Level 1 397 Chapel Street South Yarra 3141.


Write a comment