Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Getting Started

There are some significant issues that need to be considered in the incorporation of Indigenous Australian content within undergraduate programs, including:

  • Charles Sturt programs vary significantly in the extent to which they are currently including Indigenous Australian content within their undergraduate or post-graduate programs along a dimension ranging from 'very little Indigenous content' through to 'a well-developed program'.
  • Every program within disciplines across Charles Sturt is structured differently and will incorporate Indigenous Australian content differently, depending on local and workforce needs.
  • Many programs are struggling to provide adequate financial and other resources for the development of new or additional curriculum areas such as Indigenous Australian content.
  • Establishing the Gaps
  • Strategies
  • Cassie's Story
  • Assessment
  • Cultural & Intellectual Property
  • Aunty Beryl Philp Carmichael, Ngiyeempaa Elder

    Aunty Beryl Philp Carmichael, Ngiyeempaa Elder


This section of the guidelines suggests some starting points, depending on where your program sits along this continuum.

How much Indigenous content is currently being offered within your program?

Existing content may be included as separate topics, small modules or components within existing subjects within the program or as separate 'stand-alone' subjects offered within the program. A mapping exercise including a survey across all staff teaching subjects within the program should enable you to determine the nature and extent of existing Indigenous Australian content and identify the subjects in which student knowledge and understanding of this content is currently being assessed. The following steps are suggested to assist Schools and Faculties establish the degree of Indigenous content offered within their programs:

  • Map the current level and nature of Indigenous content within the program and its various subjects.
  • Determine whether this is sufficient to meet the expectations of the profession and the accrediting agencies and the Charles Sturt policy on the incorporation of Indigenous Australian content.
  • Identify whether there is a need to further develop content in this area.
  • Establish an First Nations advisory group for the school or program to guide the development of appropriate content.
strategies banner

Possible strategies for expanding the incorporation of Indigenous Australian content

As indicated elsewhere, there are a range of strategies for including Indigenous Australian content, including the provision of 'stand-alone' subjects dealing specifically with Indigenous Australian Studies, courses which include large amounts of Indigenous content integrated within areas such as 'cross-cultural psychology' and the inclusion of Indigenous content as topics or modules within existing subjects. As noted elsewhere, there are some significant benefits in the establishment of stand-alone subjects which provide a focussed background to Indigenous studies, linking the content quite specifically to the discipline area. Many universities already offer similar subjects within other professional areas (education, nursing and health sciences, social work, etc.). It may be useful to explore whether such subjects already exist within Charles Sturt and, if so, whether a similar subject could be made available to your students. For example, the Indigenous Studies offers a number of stand-alone Indigenous Australian subjects including IKC101 Indigenous Australian Cultures, History, and Contemporary Realities and IKC100 Indigenous Health which are designed to provide the contextual framework required by the Cultural Competency Pedagogical Framework

Models for Incorporating Indigenous Australian Content

Indigenous Australian Studies provides contextual foundation for integrated discipline specific Indigenous content in remainder of program.

Infographic. Box containing Compulsory First Year Indigenous Australian Studies Subject leading to second box containig Integrated Indigenous Australian Content

Developmental model of cultural competence

Infographic showing Generic understanding through to Professionally specific skills on one axis and Cultural Incompetence through to cultrual proficiency on the other axis.

click on the image to view a larger version of the model


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Cassie's Story

Cassie's Story a Teaching and Learning guide.pdf
Cassie's Story Dyan Ngal (this requires a Charles Sturt login)

Please view the video below by Jessica Biles a Lecturer in Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at Charles Sturt University.

Jessica talks about Teaching Cultural Competence and providing opportunities for its development using Cassie's Story.


Effective interaction with First Nations people requires an understanding of First Nations world views as well as how historical and contemporary events have impacted and continue to impact on First Nations peoples social and emotional well-being. A deep understanding of these impacts requires empathy and emotional engagement, not just an intellectual analysis. This is particularly important because without the ability to empathise a good relationship cannot develop, and in the Indigenous context a personal trusting relationship is essential for effective interaction.

While conventional forms of assessment, such as exams and essays, may assess the understanding of world views and empathy to some extent, most academics working in this area recommend that the choice of assessment strategies, much like the choice of curriculum content and pedagogical strategy, take into account First Nations peoples perspectives on learning and understanding. How can this be done?

The Sub-Deans (Learning and Teaching) are currently working with the School of Indigenous Studies and the Division of Learning and Teaching on models of best practice that includes both assessment and Indigenous Curriculum and pedagogy which will be a vital resource to academic staff.

Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) 

Established by the Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) in 2004 in response to the needs of the Indigenous arts community, Artists in the Black (AITB) is a legal service for Indigenous artists, communities and arts organisations. The service aims to:

  • Increase access by Indigenous artists, art organisations and Indigenous communities to legal advice on arts law issues, including Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP).
  • Increase access to legal information about arts law issues and develop appropriate publications.  Increase understanding and awareness of Indigenous artists and communities of arts law issues through an education programme.
  • Provide informed advocacy work on ICIP issues and other arts law issues affecting the Indigenous community.
  • Develop arts–specific law expertise within the Indigenous community.

Taken from the AITB website, Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) refers to all of the rights that Indigenous people want to have so that they can protect and control the use of their arts and culture. The idea of ICIP is based on the principle of self-determination and includes the following rights:

  • Right to ensure that traditional laws and customary obligations are respected, particularly where money is made from ICIP;
  •  Right to prior informed consent for all uses of ICIP. For example, artworks that illustrate the cultural and spiritual beliefs, and values of a community should not be used by people outside the relevant communities without the prior informed consent of those communities; 
  • Right to be paid for use of ICIP, particularly if it has been used without permission; 
  • Right to full and proper attribution or naming of the community connected with the work; 
  • Right to protect traditional knowledge; 
  • Right to prevent insulting, offensive and misleading uses of ICIP in all media; and 
  • Right to control the recording of cultural customs and expressions, and language that may be essential to cultural identity, knowledge, skill and teaching about Indigenous culture.

The Artists in the Black (AITB) service has many resources available to the public, including:

Australian intellectual property laws only protect some forms of ICIP. Australian laws only protect individuals and do not recognize any communal rights. In Australia, the law protects:

  • Musical, dramatic, literary and artistic works created by individuals who are living or recently passed away (within 70 years) protected by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). See Arts Law's information sheet on Copyright.
  • Moral rights of individual artists. See Arts Law's information sheet on Moral Rights
  • Individual performer's rights. See Arts Law's information sheet on Performers' Rights 
  • Designs that come under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth). See Arts Law's information sheet on Protecting your designs

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