Indigenous perspectives in curriculum at UNE

The UNE Graduate Attributes are the generic characteristics and personal qualities that define UNE graduates, together with the core knowledge, skills and capabilities specific to a student’s course of study and are therefore embedded in course learning outcomes. Course mapping is a means by which UNE ensures that graduate attributes are given an appropriate focus which may be discipline-nuanced, are aligned with course content and are achieved. The attribute of ethical conduct and social responsibility instils in UNE graduates the ability to recognise, reflect on and respond appropriately to social, cultural and ethical issues.

In 2014 UNE identified that a whole-of-university approach requires Indigenous cultural content to be included in units and a more inclusive approach to pedagogy. This makes the content more accessible to Indigenous students, as well as increasing the cultural capital and competency of the University as a whole and of students in their learning and qualifications.  During 2014, the Oorala Director engaged pro-actively with UNE’s Schools including Arts, Education, Law, Health, Humanities and UNE Business School, to improve linkage and discussion on Indigenous knowledges in curriculum.

The School of Health continues to work in collaboration with Indigenous stakeholder groups such as the peak body CATSINaM (Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives) to ensure that the nursing curriculum at UNE reflects a strong Indigenous health component. The School also adheres to the Australian Nursing and Midwives Association Committee’s accreditation requirement that nursing curriculum include an Indigenous health focus.

Several clinical practice settings for students have been available including placement in an Indigenous community health setting, for example Coledale Community, Tamworth. An Indigenous focus is further incorporated into other core units in the pre-registration Nursing program.

Oorala linked with the School of Education’s Indigenous Research Network, which included discussion on Indigenous knowledges in curriculum and involvement in the School’s MATSITI project. Student Support staff also presented Aboriginal perspectives to 3rd year tutorials in UNE’s Joint Medical Program and were involved in cultural competency training arrangements for remote community placements in Pharmacy. Cultural knowledge and perspectives were provided to UNE’s Indigenous Archaeology course and proposals for School of Arts to facilitate student seminars on this discipline. UNE Schools also worked with Oorala to generate a more ‘authentic expression’ within a number of courses and are actively seeking to embrace a more culturally sensitive approach to knowledge.

Oorala offers the units OORA100/300: Aboriginal Resilience and the Arts and OORA200/400: Working with Aboriginal People which are included in the TRACKS Program, undergraduate and postgraduate UNE courses as core or listed units as outlined below.

In 2014 Oorala’s ‘OORA’ units were offered within a number of UNE courses as core, listed or elective units.  These include Bachelor degrees in Nursing, Social Work, Social Science, Criminology, Criminology/Law, Theatre and Performance, Media and Communications and Education (Primary), with plans in place for inclusion in other courses in 2015. OORA200 is also a core unit in the Master of Nursing Practice.

Enrolments in OORA units in 2014 were as follows:

The number of students enrolling in Oorala's OORA units during 2014














The units are offered on campus and online in Trimesters 1 and 2 and attract Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, other domestic students and a significant cohort of international students.

During 2014 there were an additional 21 units of study offered providing specific Indigenous content across UNE courses.  These include:

  • Ten units through School of Humanities in the Bachelor of Arts Indigenous Studies major, which address the Australian context and comparisons with international examples, in subject areas such as contemporary issues, policy, health, business, archaeology and history. Eight of these units also form the major in Indigenous Organisation Management within the Diploma of Business offered by UNE Business School.
  • The EDCX unit Aboriginal Education which is mandatory across all of the School of Education’s Teaching awards at Bachelor and Masters level. The unit is presented in conjunction with Indigenous Education Consultants from the Tamworth office of the NSW Department of Education & Training and at 300 and 500 level requires students to complete 20 days Professional Experience.
  • EDCX 515 Indigenous Australian Education: Issues and Policies, which is a key unit in the Master of Education (coursework) and EDSS328/428 Secondary Education: Aboriginal Studies, offered in Teaching degrees for secondary teachers.
  • Units through School of Health including HSNS231 Nursing Australian Indigenous People, an elective in Nursing degrees, and four units offered through Counselling degrees.
  • LING366 Australia’s Indigenous Languages, offered through School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences
  • Two law units, LS364 Indigenous Australians and Law, included in undergraduate Law degrees and the Indigenous Studies major in Bachelor of Arts, and the postgraduate unit LLM632 Indigenous Natural Resource Issues and the Law which has a focus on protection of Indigenous cultural knowledge.

There were also units offered with some Indigenous content:

  • Indigenous content is embedded in a number of courses and units through UNE Business School, e.g. GSB722 ‘Managing Diversity’ which includes the main study topic ‘Employing Indigenous Australians’; also MM200 ‘Contemporary Management’ has a broad focus on cultural diversity and social inclusion is addressed. The UNE Business School’s Master of Economic and Regional Development includes a major in Indigenous Futures which seeks to prepare students for a career involved in community and regional development projects.
  • Indigenous content in School of Law is incorporated into 12 or more undergraduate core or elective units at first year through to third year level. An example is the unit LS357 ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ which includes a topic examining dispute resolution processes of Australian Indigenous people, comparing and contrasting these with mainstream processes, and the implications of cross-cultural ADR process.
  • All Bachelor of Nursing / Master of Nursing units in School of Health contain at least one theme of Indigenous Health focused learning, including understanding and respect for traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture. The elective unit HSNS527 Rural and Remote Contexts of Practice has a major component of Indigenous content.
  • Through the School of Environmental & Rural Science, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives are presented in CANI310/510 ‘Wild Dog Ecology’ in relation to the role of dogs in Indigenous societies, and the influence of customs and culture on wild dog management and dingo conservation. The unit includes teaching materials produced by Aboriginal people and an opportunity for students to gain Aboriginal community experience through participating in a dog health program in the Tiwi Islands.