The Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICC) in Australian Universities Project has been completed by Universities Australia and the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council (IHEAC), with funding support from the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Indigenous cultural competency refers to the ability to understand and value Indigenous perspectives. It provides the basis upon which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians may engage positively in a spirit of mutual respect and reconciliation.
The objective of this project was to provide Australian universities with the tools to embed cultural competency at the institutional level so that they are encouraging and supportive environments for Indigenous students and staff and produce well-rounded graduates with the skills necessary for providing genuinely competent services to the Australian Indigenous community.
The Project ran from July 2009 to October 2011. It involved a number of pilots of Indigenous cultural competency activities in Australian universities as well as the creation of a National Best Practice Framework for implementing Indigenous cultural competency across the university sector.
Best Practice Framework
The National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities has been created drawing upon lessons learned from international and domestic experience, including the results of the four ICC Project pilots. The Framework is formed around five key Guiding Principles:
- Indigenous people should be actively involved in university governance and management
- All graduates of Australian universities will have the knowledge and skills necessary to interact in a culturally competent way with Indigenous communities.
- University research will be conducted in a culturally competent way in partnership with Indigenous participants
- Indigenous staffing will be increased at all appointment levels and, for academic staff, across a wider variety of academic fields
- Universities will operate in partnership with their Indigenous communities and will help disseminate culturally competent practices to the wider community
These Guiding Principles provide the higher education sector with a framework for embedding Indigenous cultural competencies within and across the institution in sustainable ways which engender reconciliation and social justice by enabling the factors that contribute to social, economic and political change.
These Principles align with and enable the vision and goals for Indigenous higher education of the IHEAC (2007), the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (2007, the Vision for 2020 of the Review of Australian Higher Education (2008) and the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education (2008). They also reflect the Terms of Reference of the IHEAC and broadly address the IHEAC's seven Key Priority areas for Indigenous higher education.
Each of the five Principles is supported by a number of recommended best practices which have emerged through the Project as common adoptions and indicators of success. Universities are urged to adopt the Principles and seek ways to implement them that are attuned to their own particular circumstance and method of operation.
The Best Practice Framework was endorsed by both Universities Australia and IHEAC in November 2011.
The Best Practice Framework is available in two forms:
- The short Guiding Principles for the Development of Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities document outlines the five central Principles and the recommended practices and best practice examples for each one.
- The long Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities expands on the content of the Guiding Principles document and serves as the evidentiary and theoretical basis for the Principles. It is intended to serve more as a reference manual than a working document.
The above documents are available for digital download on the Universities Australia website:
To support the Framework and help embed it within universities, Universities Australia is supporting a number of workshops throughout 2012 at various locations around Australia. These workshops will bring practitioners and experts together to discuss best practice and share experience and ideas.
Workshops will be taking place at:
The University of Western Australia on the afternoon of Wednesday 29 August
University of Technology, Sydney, on the afternoon of Tuesday 23 October
Places at this workshop are limited and will be provided on a first-come first-served basis.
To book a place, please RSVP to Nathan Cassidy.
As part of the wider ICC Project, four universities undertook pilot activities in 2010. Please click on the following links to access further information on each, including reports.
Edith Cowan University: A project to develop a culturally competent university curriculum for law, physiotherapy and public health
The University of Newcastle: A project to implement a culturally competent curriculum in the Faculty of Business and Law, and to develop business partnerships to promote the value of culturally competent university graduates
The University of Western Australia: A project to produce an Indigenous cultural competency resource kit supported by workshops for four target groups (one faculty, the Bunbury campus, the Foundations of Teaching and Learning Group and a cross-sectional group)
University of Wollongong: A project to incorporate Indigenous storytelling techniques in early childhood and primary education courses through the use of ground-breaking 'Slowmation' technology