Indigenous scholars worldwide have long argued that universities ought to be institutions which, as investigators and custodians of knowledge, to be inclusive and representative of Indigenous epistemologies, methodologies and pedagogies. Such endeavours are favourable not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students having instruction in their own culture and tradition, but also in having non-Indigenous students be exposed to and explore Indigenous lifeworlds and knowledge systems. Furthermore, considering the ongoing consequences of colonisation through normalised racism towards Indigenous people, prevalence of misconceptions, and the dismissal of their culture, the University, as a shaper of predispositions and knowledge has an obligation contribute to the amelioration of such ideological and attitudinal concerns.
The inclusion of Indigenous epistemes and pedagogies are too important in the formation of professionals who will interact with Aboriginal people, such as teachers, medical personnel, social workers, and solicitors. These individuals require an understanding of Indigenous perspectives, as well as discipline and profession-specific practice, in order to best interact with and provide service for Aboriginal people and communities.
What we need to do
To make the University of Tasmania known as one of Australia’s leading tertiary institutions in its provision of Indigenous knowledge and cultural content in its curricula, and in producing graduates who are competent with Indigenous perspectives, issues and cultural safety. To achieve this, we need additional Indigenous experts employed across the disciplines, and an annual evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander related curricula to confirm progress and quality in the embedding of Indigenous content across our courses in some form. It will be our aim to have to have Indigenous knowledge embedded in 50% of all courses by 2024.
How we can make a difference?
There is one overarching goal that we must undertake to ensure learning and teaching at the University of Tasmania aligns with the strategic plan, this is the rolling out of the curricula Indigenisation process across curricula and recourses throughout the university. There are several actions flagged to achieve this goal, these include, but are not limited to:
- That an Indigenisation Committee is to oversee and guide Indigenisation of curriculum across all areas of the university;
- Ensuring that each College undertake an audit of Indigenous content and perspectives noting how their units could receive the embedding of such material;
- That annual dialogue be undertaken between Faculties on embedding Indigenous content within their curricula, and for a formal evaluation of progress be provided to University Senate;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation on Course Advisory Committees;
- Encourage all teaching staff to identify and offer support for Aboriginal students within their courses
- Build upon and roll out additional Palawa-based units within the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Aboriginal Higher Education Advisor
The Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching (TILT) employs an Aboriginal Higher Education Advisor to provide institutional leadership in the development of curriculum encompassing Aboriginal issues across the whole of the University, including training for staff and students in cultural awareness and related issues. The position has a key strategic role in effective development and delivery of whole-of-university strategy and associated initiatives in curriculum development related to Aboriginal knowledge and values, within the broader context of the Learning and Teaching strategic plan and Social Inclusion plan.
The Aboriginal Higher Education Advisor engages with the Aboriginal communities in Tasmania at a senior level to foster community input into, the University. The Advisor also provides strategic advice on Aboriginal issues to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students and Education) and is a member of the Division of Students and Education Management Team. Contributing at a national level to Aboriginal issues through research, teaching, and/or scholarship is seen as crucial to this role.
For more information
For further information regarding Aboriginal Curriculum and staff and student training in cultural awareness and related issues at the University of Tasmania please contact: