Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University


The incorporation of Indigenous Australian content into all Charles Sturt University undergraduate programs requires a systematic and pedagogically sound approach. It is vital to ensure cultural appropriateness and accountability of all Indigenous Australian content produced and taught by the University.  An integrated governance mechanism ensures that CSU has a coherent approach to the development of teaching Indigenous Australian Studies, especially with regards managing the shared responsibilities between the School of Indigenous Australian Studies and the Faculties and Schools.

  • Academic Governance
  • Developing Content
  • Define Subjects
  • Who should Teach
  • Future planning and Sustainability
  • Windmill in Menindee

Academic Governance of the Incorporation of Indigenous Australian content

The mechanism for enabling an integrated governance mechanism is the Indigenous Board of Studies (IBS).

The Director of the School of Indigenous Australian Studies chairs the Indigenous Board of Studies. This Board is responsible for monitoring the development and implementation of the Indigenous Australian content in undergraduate programs policy at CSU and is the approval body for all Indigenous Australian Studies subjects.

CSU Academic Manual (B3.2.1 Indigenous Board of Studies) Attestation of approval for Hybrid and Discipline-specific subjects need to be documented before these subjects can be approved by relevant Faculty Courses Committees or the Academic Program Committee. The membership of the Board includes the entire School of Indigenous Australian Studies academic staff at Level B or above, and two Indigenous Australian academic staff from each of the Faculties, the Executive Officer from the Faculty of Arts and Education. All Level A Indigenous Academics and the Indigenous Curriculum and Pedagogy Coordinator have Right of Audience and Debate.

Contact details for the Academic Governance are:

Minutes Officer Amy Towney
School of Indigenous Australian Studies
Phone: (02) 6885 7347
Internal Phone: 57347
Campus: Dubbo

Academic Governance meeting schedule


Developing Content in Indigenous Australian Studies

When developing the curriculum for inclusion in CSU degrees, the following aspects need to be considered. These aspects relate to the design of courses and subjects, student experiences such as field trips, cultural experiences, and Institutional support such as cultural awareness and competency of staff, sustainability and succession planning.

  • Course and subject design
  • Student experience
  • Institutional factors

Course and Subject Design

Indigenous Australian Studies at CSU: Some Policy Considerations

Defining 'Indigenous Australian Studies'

The CSU Indigenous Education Strategy identifies four models for the incorporation of Indigenous Australian content into undergraduate programs. It is acknowledged that the incorporation of Indigenous Australian content into professional discipline specific undergraduate programs which are co-provided or require accreditation from professional bodies will require negotiation with the co-provider or accrediting body to ensure that Indigenous Australian content is incorporated in ways which meet professional and pedagogical requirements and guidelines.

The four models described in the Indigenous Education Strategy are:

  1. 'Indigenous Australian Studies' - defined as that broad area of inquiry related to Indigenous Australian knowledges, cultures and heritages, histories and issues which impact upon or are of concern to Indigenous peoples and communities today, such as health, education, criminal justice, land rights and Native Title. 'Indigenous Australian Studies' does not cover profession specific studies such as Indigenous clinical health and mental health, Indigenous policing and Indigenous education.

    'Indigenous Australian Studies' should be taught as a 'stand-alone' subject in the first year of a program to provide the contextual foundation for integrated content throughout the course of study.
    IKC100: Indigenous Health.pdf
    IKC101: Indigenous Cultures, Histories and Contemporary Realities.pdf 

  2. 'Discipline-specific Indigenous Australian Studies' - defined as that area of inquiry in Indigenous Studies which is specifically related to the theoretical and practical knowledge required for a professional discipline.

    'Discipline-specific Indigenous Australian Studies' should be taught as 'stand-alone' subjects or via integration of relevant Indigenous content throughout the program.
    JST309: Indigenous Issues in Policing.pdf

  3. 'Hybrid Indigenous Australian Studies' - defined as being a combination of 'Indigenous Australian Studies' and 'Discipline-specific Indigenous Australian Studies'.

    'Hybrid Indigenous Australian Studies' provide an effective strategy for the incorporation of Indigenous content into 'crowded' discipline-specific programs such as psychology.
    PSY114: Indigenous Australians and Psychology: An Introduction.pdf

  4. 'Restricted Indigenous Studies' - defined as those subjects in which enrolment is restricted to Indigenous Australian students.
    Djirruwang Program

The question of 'Who should teach Indigenous Studies'?

The inclusion of Indigenous Australian Studies or content in University curriculum has a relatively short history and until recently has predominately been taught by non-Indigenous academic staff from disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology and the social sciences. The question of 'who should teach Indigenous Studies?' has been the subject of much discussion and debate, particularly as more Indigenous academics take their place in Australian Universities.

It was not until the late 1960s, the decade in which the United Nations made colonialism a crime against humanity, that any academic interest was shown toward Indigenous issues and/or interests or that Indigenous Studies became available as an area of study in Australian Universities. At this time in history, Australia, like other signatory countries to that UN Convention, theoretically moved into an era of post-colonisation and self-determination in which the voices of the former colonised Indigenous minority became empowered to challenge the institutional racism and exclusivity of dominant ways of knowing and doing, both generally and within academia. More recently, the process of Reconciliation, along with the findings of national inquiries such as the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991) and the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (1997), brought Indigenous issues to the Centre, providing further space for the growing voices of Indigenous peoples challenging and deconstructing colonising practices and articulating epistemologies and histories counter to that of the coloniser as a part of the process of self-determination.

Over the past decade there has been an increase in the number of Indigenous students graduating from higher education institutions and subsequently of Indigenous academics employed within Australian universities. There has followed a challenge to the dominance of non-Indigenous academics and their role in constructing and teaching knowledge about Indigenous Australian cultures, histories and contemporary realities. The question of 'who should teach Indigenous Studies?' was addressed at the March 2008 meeting of the National Indigenous Higher Education Network (NIHEN) held at the Dubbo campus of Charles Sturt University.


As mentioned earlier, many of the attempts in the recent past to include relevant Indigenous content and understanding in undergraduate programs have faltered because they have relied on a few relatively isolated individual academics. Hence, it is important to put in place the factors to ensure that Indigenous Australian Studies subjects and programs are sustainable in the long term. The following will help with sustainability.

Succession planning

Long-term sustainability requires the appointment of new staff from time to time. Having more than one person from your school involved in course and subject development and teaching, even if others may only have a relatively minor role (for instance, delivering a few lectures, or doing some tutoring), is a good strategy since it shares the load and enables other people to continue with teaching if the initiator retires or takes leave. It also helps to create a positive culture within the school and sets the scene for inter-generational continuity. Having a small team of tutors rather than only one or two can be a good training ground for potential future lecturers and subject coordinators. In the longer term, the students themselves may be your future educators. From experience, a substantial proportion of students become very engaged with the area and want to do work with Indigenous people when they graduate. Some of them may wish to pursue an academic career in this area.

Top of page