Uni students should graduate with Indigenous knowledge

BY AMY MCQUIREJANUARY 16, 2012

Originally published in Tracker Magazine.

Universities Australia has released a new framework calling on Indigenous cultural competency to be embedded across all curricula.

NATIONAL: The peak body for Australia’s universities has recommended that Indigenous cultural competency be embedded across all undergraduate programs and all students graduate with understandings of Indigenous culture.

Universities Australia this month handed down the results of its Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICC) project, completed in conjunction with the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council (AHEAC).

The project aimed to create a National Best Practice Framework on Indigenous Cultural Competency.

The framework includes a number of recommendations, ranging from teaching and learning, Indigenous research and governance and management.

It has called for Indigenous knowledges and perspectives to be provided to all students across all curricula, and has recommended that Indigenous cultural competency be included as a Graduate Attribute or Quality (skills or understandings taught to all students on completion of their degree).

The framework states that all “graduates of Australian universities will have the knowledge and skills necessary to interact in a culturally competent way with Indigenous communities”.

It also states that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be actively involved in governance and management, including at the senior levels that lead Indigenous education.

The framework calls on universities to develop protocols for lifting Indigenous representation on university boards and committees.

The body found that in the field of Indigenous research, Australia lags well behind other developed countries like New Zealand and Canada.

It calls on universities to adequately fund an Indigenous Research Strategy, identify Indigenous issues as key research themes for the university and ensure that guidelines are created to ensure Indigenous researchers and research is culturally safe and methodologically sound.

The framework also recommends that universities draw up Reconciliation Statements on Reconciliation Action Plans and support the Indigenous community through structures like Indigenous Advisory Committees.

It asks universities to make sure campuses are culturally inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and ensure they display “Acknowledgement to Country” signs in prominent locations, as well as on marketing materials.

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