Oorala Aboriginal Centre’s Role in Cultural Competency at UNE

  • OORA units offered through Oorala have enhanced the opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to study Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content within their degrees.
  • Oorala includes Aboriginal guest presenters in lectures for OORA units and input from the Elder in Residence and other Aboriginal staff into cultural perspectives for the Centre’s TRACKS Program. Program activities included excursions to local sites of cultural significance with community presenters.
  • Oorala Aboriginal Student Support staff provide input to UNE First Year Advisors on cultural awareness training.
  • The Director co-authored a published paper examining cultural safety offered to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students within their university environments (Rochecouste, J., Oliver, R., Bennell, D., (2014) Is there Cultural Safety in Australian Universities?). The Oorala Director was invited to be a Cluster Leader in the 2014 OLT National Teaching Fellowship - Aboriginal knowledges in higher education in the 21st Century (in partnership with Fellowship Leader: A/Professor Karen Martin,   Griffith University). This project aims to advance the education issues regarding Aboriginal participation and outcomes in higher education and cultural competency in learning, teaching and leadership.
  • The Director participated in the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP), funded by The Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) with a collaborative project team lead by the University of Western Australia to investigate Curricular approaches to increasing cultural competence and Indigenous participation in psychology education and training. Oorala’s Elder in Residence presents Welcome to Country at official UNE events and in Oorala’s student activities, also participating on several local community committees and boards and providing consultation to UNE projects such as the ‘Ancient Wetlands’ project.
  • Oorala Director and Aboriginal staff supported the East Armidale Community Garden, a postdoctoral research project Nourishing Culture and Developing Social Capital in a Community Garden. The project leader collaborates with members of Armidale's Aboriginal community and local organisations as partners, to develop a garden in East Armidale on the border of Narwan Village, a former Aboriginal reserve, with a focus on positive engagement with place through caring for Country. Oorala endorsed and agreed to participate in the Southern Cross University research project ‘Successful options for the Indigenous Tutor Assistance Scheme Tertiary Tuition (ITAS-TT) in NSW regional universities’. The project investigates the views and experiences of students, tutors and personnel working in Indigenous support units in relation to the current operation of the ITAS-TT tutoring scheme.
  • The 2014 NAIDOC event hosted by Oorala involved UNE, student and community representatives who spoke on the theme ‘Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond’ and the contribution of generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have served in Australia’s defence forces from the Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, through to contemporary military conflicts across the globe.
  • The 2014 Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture was presented by Mr Romlie Mokak, Chief Executive Officer of the Lowitja Institute, on ‘Our People in Professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their representative bodies shaping the future for our people.’ One of the successes in Oorala’s 2014 community engagement was increased involvement by local Aboriginal Elders’ groups in the Centre’s events, programs and student support activities.

Oorala’s Director and key staff attended the following to maintain development of cultural competency within the Centre’s role at UNE:

  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) National Indigenous Studies Conference (2): Oorala Director and Oorala Elder in Residence
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT) led National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Strategy and Portal Projects (2): Oorala Director and Oorala staff member
  • World Indigenous Peoples Conference of Education (WiPC:e2014 – Honolulu) (1): Oorala Director.