Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Mackay JCU Campuses Gifted Indigenous Name

James Cook University’s Mackay campuses have been gifted an Indigenous name in a fitting acknowledgment of the role played by Indigenous people in advancing the University.

JCU’s clinical campuses at Mackay Base Hospital and the Mater Private Hospital Mackay will now be jointly known as Ngudya Yamba (pronounced nood-ja yum-ba), meaning ‘place of knowledge’ in the language of Traditional Owners, the Yuwi People.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs said last week’s ceremony was the fifth of its kind at James Cook University following ceremonies on Townsville, Cairns, and Thursday Island campuses.

“It is a privilege to be given this name by the Yuwi People.

“It’s about showing respect for the places on which we operate and the fact that our indigenous people were here 60,000 years before us.

“That respect of having them gift us a name is a really important part of the development of the university.”

Yuibera Traditional Owner and Cultural Practise Program Facilitator at Mackay Base Hospital Philip Kemp is part of the Mackay Aboriginal Language Group who gifted the name to the University.

“As a descendant of the traditional custodians for Mackay, the Yuwi people, it is a great honour to be able to gift the name to JCU,” he said.

Mr Kemp said the group has been working with council and local businesses to spread the language.

“We’re pleased that those requests are coming from organisations,” he said.

“People are starting to recognise that Aboriginal culture is a strong culture and language, culture and stories all come together to provide that rich culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Mr Biggs said the biggest step in paying respect to Australia’s indigenous people is population parity, with the university’s student population currently represented by 7% indigenous people while the catchment region is home to 13-14%.

“The ultimate sign of respect for us will be when we’ve all worked together to improve the educational outcomes for the Indigenous people of Australia,” he said.

Yuibera Traditional Owner Philip Kemp with JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs at the newly named Ngudya Yamba campus at Mackay Base Hospital. Photo supplied

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