We believe the best pathways for reconciliation lie within the leadership and ideas of First Nations people. Together, we champion self-determination, by actively supporting the ambition of First Nations Peoples and strengthening the network of informed and engaged allies. We facilitate meaningful processes of truth-telling and cultural learning for all members of our community so that we collectively integrate and champion reconciliation.

Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)


The Ormond College 2024-2026 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is officially endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. It’s the College’s fourth RAP and its most ambitious. In this RAP, we acknowledge uncomfortable truths about our past and outline our community’s priorities and commitments in advancing reconciliation. The success of this RAP is the collective responsibility of each and every member of the Ormond community. Students, staff, alumni, friends, and partners—everyone has a key role to play.

Dhoombak Goobgoowana: A History of Indigenous Australia

Through the University of Melbourne’s ongoing research and book Dhoombak Goobgoowana: A History of Indigenous Australia and the University of Melbourne we have gained a deeper understanding of our institutional and colonial past. Dhoombak Goobgoowana can be translated as ‘truth telling’ in the Woi Wurrung language of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people. 

Ormond College acknowledges the uncomfortable history surrounding its benefactors, including Francis Ormond and John Wyselaskie, and the broader context of colonisation in which the College was established. This is a topic the College has been discussing with students and staff since we learnt of this research in 2022.

Both Ormond and Wyselaskie amassed significant wealth during the 1800s as settler pastoralists in the Western District of Victoria. Francis Ormond became one of the most prominent philanthropists of the 1880s, founding Ormond College and the Working Men’s College (now RMIT). John Wyselaskie gave significant funds to Ormond College and the adjacent Presbyterian Theological Hall. 

When we acknowledge the achievements, generosity, and legacy of these benefactors, we must also acknowledge at whose expense this benevolence was derived – specifically, the Wadawurrung and Djab wurrung Traditional Owners.

Research shows that Indigenous peoples were violently displaced and mistreated during the occupation of the Western Districts of Victoria in the 1840s, around the time that Francis Ormond and John Wyselaskie arrived. 

It is also well documented that exploitative labour practices—including underpayment and payment in rations—were almost universal for First Nations people in this region and era. The Ormond and Wyselaskie farms employed First Nations peoples. 

The book also mentions a scholarship established by Ormond alumna Dr Merrilyn Murnane Griffiths (1954) in honour of her father Dr Daniel Murnane. Dr Daniel Murnane was a graduate of the University of Melbourne and a veterinarian. The research reveals Daniel Murnane’s involvement in a massacre of Indigenous people in the Kimberley in the 1920s. As a result, the scholarship was renamed the Dr. Merrilyn Murnane Veterinary Science Scholarship.

As part of Ormond College’s commitment to reconciliation, we acknowledge these uncomfortable truths. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) reflects this commitment. We welcome and thank the University of Melbourne for their research and Ormond alumna Professor Zoë Laidlaw (1991) for her contributions.

The College is undertaking an ongoing process of community consultation to determine what actions the College should take to further reconciliation with First Nations peoples.

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