How UNE addresses the cultural competency of its staff and students

Cultural awareness training has been made available to all staff by UNE’s Human Resource Services directorate to improve staff competencies in engagement with students and staff from diverse cultural backgrounds.

A one day pilot cultural awareness program was offered and delivered to staff across the School of Environmental Rural Sciences. After this initial program it was decided that a more in-depth cultural immersion program would be more appropriate and would affect greater attitudinal change across the University. The immersion program will be run over two days, with one day on campus and the next visiting sites of cultural significance in the local area under the guidance of local Aboriginal Elders and National Parks. Human Resource Services are currently in the process of investigating, costing and implementing such an Aboriginal Cultural Immersion Program of which it is anticipated a pilot will be delivered in August 2015.

Cultural awareness training has application to the general UNE student body, especially for those students who may engage professionally with Indigenous people through practical placements or as early career graduates going into their field, and students who benefit from developing their overall professional skills.  For example, Medical students who attended University Departments of Rural Health in Tamworth or Taree undertook cultural training.

Cultural competency for UNE students is largely through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content and perspectives in curriculum and involvement by Elders and community members in a range of professional networks, events, programs and projects. The increased involvement of Aboriginal representatives on UNE Council and the Human Research Ethics Committee also serves to enhance the level of cultural competency in high level consultation and decision-making on governance, teaching and research matters.

UNE’s new website launched in 2014 included the link ‘Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community’, accessible on the UNE homepage by public, staff and students. This makes more prominent the online presence of UNE’s ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ statement, Reconciliation Statement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy, course and unit information and other relevant information.