Knowledge Tree

The UniSA Knowledge Tree was presented to the University of South Australia by CareerTrackers on 7 June 2018. The Knowledge Tree rotates between each UniSA campus and will be situated within the Wirringka Student Services Study Centres.

What is the Knowledge Tree?

Knowledge Trees are special wooden artefacts from Elcho Island which are adorned with bush string and feathers. UniSA's Knowledge Tree was crafted by John Mangu and Richard Djarrimili.

The Knowledge Tree is a ceremonial pole that is representative of the sacred fig tree which grows at Dhudupu near First Creek on Elcho Island.

It signifies the story of the mokuy spirit that lives beneath the fig tree and eats the figs and kurrajong seeds.

Traditionally, groups would gather at the sacred fig tree for bungul which is a ceremony that awakens and enlivens the spirits, guiding them ‘home’. It is a symbolic ceremony of remembrance and of the passing of traditional knowledge to younger generations.


What do the different materials represent?

The white feathers at the top of the pole represent the Banumbirr (Morning Star of Venus) which is very bright and tracks across the Arnhem Land sky, setting in the west just before dawn. At this time the light is rapidly changing. There is the darkness of the night, punctuated with the reflections of the Morning Star on leaves of the trees, together with the distant glow of the dawn and the fading of the other stars in the sky.

The cord binding the Knowledge Tree is hand spun from the inner bark layer of the dharrangulk (red flowering kurrajong); the feathered rings with the very small feathered pendants are the lomburr; the flowers and fruit of the genydja (fig tree) that grow on the main stems. Further down the pole the dark feathers depict the dried leaves of dead plants. The white and coloured feathers represent the new life given to the plant, which is also representative of new life for the people. The bands of different colours of ochre represent the changing light of the early morning, with the black being the night, the yellow and the red being the coming dawn and the white being the rays of sunlight and its reflection on the trees. The imagery on the pole also symbolises the artist’s family group and totems.

UniSA's Partnership with CareerTrackers

The University of South Australia agreed to a ten-year partnership with CareerTrackers in December of 2017.

Internships are available to students during the Summer and Winter major study breaks. CareerTrackers currently has over 200 corporate partners nationally with potential to grow. In addition to this, CareerTrackers also provides students with a wide variety of other services to assist students in preparing for the workplace such as professional development training. Students are linked with a national network of pre-professional university students at an annual Leadership and Development Institute and Gala Dinner.

About CareerTrackers

On 29 October 2009, CareerTrackers was born – a national non-profit with the goal of creating pathways and support systems for Indigenous young adults to attend and graduate from university, with high marks, industry experience and bright professional futures.

The success of the program has been recognised by employers, governments and, most importantly, Indigenous communities throughout Australia. CareerTrackers students complete university at higher rates than their non-Indigenous peers, the majority of Alumni are in full-time employment in their field within three months of graduation.

The underpinning philosophy at CareerTrackers is ‘Students at the Core’. This means every decision we make in the delivery of the program focuses on the benefit to our students. We are proud to have built a community of CareerTrackers interns and Alumni that span thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households across Australia.

CareerTrackers see prosperous futures for their students and Alumni, who are quickly becoming leaders in their careers and communities.