Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Indigenous Cultural Competency Program


The Indigenous Cultural Competency Program (ICCP) responds to a series of strategic priorities at Charles Sturt, where we aim to improve the education and lives of First Nations peoples. To achieve this over the next three years we will improve access, participation, retention and success rates for First Nations students; ensure all undergraduate programs incorporate Indigenous Australian content consistent with the Indigenous cultural competence pedagogical framework and encourage an organisational culture that is welcoming of all cultures (and train all staff in this respect).

The Indigenous Cultural Competency Program is:

  • An Individual Online Cultural Competency Program: This individual component of the journey to cultural competence has, as its learning outcomes, increased cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity. 
    The Individual Online Cultural Competency Program is available at

Contact the Gulaay team for more information:

  • What we need to do at Charles Sturt
  • How can we make this journey?
  • What might we experience?
  • How to make a safe environment for people to explore: our staff as students
  • Learning Design
  • Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya
  • Moral Courage: The Student Voice
  • What are the possible outcomes?
  • How do you show you have achieved this?
  • Resources
  • Contact Us
  • Acknowledgements

The importance of partnerships  

Welcome to Stage 3 of the Indigenous Cultural Competency Program (ICCP). This site will provide a collection of resources that can support units to reflect on their professional strategies and includes a newly developed resource Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya with materials to facilitate its use. This is also a space to encourage the sharing of achievements and challenges. This site will evolve over time and it is hoped that those Faculties, Divisions and Units that are early adopters can share their approaches with others.

Stage 3 of the ICCP is the institutional stage of the journey to cultural competence and it will be led by senior staff in each area across the University.

Support can be provided through a range of existing structures: 

  • Curriculum and teaching support is provided by the Academic Lead (First Nations Curriculum) and support staff in Division of Learning and Teaching (DLT). Contact us at
  • Faculties will be assisted in their support for Indigenous students by the Office for Students.
  • Faculties and Divisions are supported by the First Nations Employment Coordinator (Division of People and Culture) regarding Indigenous staffing issues.

Firstly, check with Division of People and Culture to see all your staff have completed the Stage 1: The Individual Online Cultural Competency Program. The link to this website can be found here:

While this journey was an individual one this next part is about working as a team to make changes.

If you are a facilitator or manager you first need to engage with Cassie's Story 2 : Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya and think about what it means for you and your staff. Cassie's Story 2 : Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya is a resource that aims to progress staff thinking from Cassie’s Story; Dyan Ngal to experience how Cassie transitions into the University environment on one of our campuses.

First things first...some things to think about....

  • How will you group your organisational unit?
  • Now you have been exposed to this professional training what does this mean for your practice as teachers, and as professional and general staff?

If provided with guidance staff who engage with this resource will be able to:

  • Explain how an increased awareness of First Nations culture and issues will enhance their skills in their area of professional practice.
  • Reflect on their own values and attitudes and how this effects their professional practice.
  • Build Faculty and Divisional plans that incorporate innovative ideas that directly lead to increased First Nations student and staff numbers and the retention of both in a place that is both welcoming of First Nations culture and celebrates Country.

Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya has been designed as a stand-alone resource so that it can be used by various Faculties and Divisions within the University. Participants or groups will embark on a learning journey by listening to Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya and can explore links to additional website resources where directed by their facilitators.

Preparing the learning environment

  1. Make your discussion place a safe environment for learning (Understand, anticipate and allay fears)
  2. Show confidence in your own expertise
  3. Negotiate emotions in the learning environment
  4. Model dialogue by collaborative practice
  5. Urge staff to question established assumptions and ‘facts’ learning from experience
  6. Build relationships with, and connect staff to community (Take staff to community; Bring community into your learning place)
  7. Teach staff to ‘walk in the shoes of others’
  8. Encourage staff self-awareness (Help staff to know themselves and their own values better; require staff to reflect on their own learning)
  9. Be open to reflecting, learning and changing as a facilitator
  10. Be enthusiastic and have fun!

Adapted for Charles Sturt staff from the work of Dr Christine Asimar (2014). Indigenous Teaching at Australian Universities: Research-based approaches to teaching Indigenous students and Indigenous curriculum. Sydney, NSW: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

Indigenous Teaching

Cultural competency is defined from the National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities (2013) Cultural competency as:

Student and staff knowledge and understanding of First Nations cultures, histories and contemporary realities and awareness of Indigenous protocols, combined with the proficiency to engage and work effectively in First Nations contexts congruent to the expectations of First Nations peoples.

A culturally competent higher education institution will embrace these values thoroughly: throughout the organisational fabric of institutions and extending to every staff member and student. Cultural Competence consists of qualities that fall under the general components of knowledge, values, skills, and critical reflexivity.

  • Knowledge – What do you know? Tell me.
  • Skills – What do you know? Show me. What would you do in this situation?
  • Values – What do you know? Explain to me. Explain what has changed and why.
  • Critical reflexivity − How have my values and attitudes formed? How have they changed?

Wiradjuri for "Sister Girl Learning"

Dindima's Welcome


Aunty Gloria Rogers, Dindima, Wiradjuri Elder

Suggestions for group discussion.

Participants are encouraged to listen to Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya working their way through all the scenes. On completion of the story they can go back to the each scene of the story and look at possible discussion questions section of the site to investigate what may be needed to increase awareness or promote engagement. Cassie's Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya can be used in its entirety as stimulus material for staff to engage with Cultural Competency or selected scenes or issues could be identified that could simulate situations that staff may encounter either within their professional capacity or personal lives.

Other guiding questions and activities could be:

  • What did you already know about this/these particular issue/s?
  • What would you do in Cassie's situation?
  • What has or hasn't changed and why or why not? Explain.
  • Record their own values and attitudes at ongoing intervals.

Cassie's Story 2

Scene guide

The following section 'Scene Guide' documents possible discussion questions for each scene as strategies for encouraging further staff engagement. Any activity devised would need to be integrated into professional practice. For example, a Course team could think about the design of subjects and the requirements of the course design or their discipline area. This focus would be different for staff who work in Student Support, Administration, Human Resources, Security, Catering or the Library.

What is important is to make this journey relevant and real.

Scene 1: "Never thought I’d make it here"

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement:

  • What makes good student support for First Nations students and why is it important?
  • What makes First Nations students feel safe and welcome in a predominantly non-Indigenous space? How do we make our spaces more inclusive?

Scene 2: "I am sitting here going all red in the face"

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement:

  • Why do we have alternate entry programs for First Nations students?
  • What might be some of the issues First Nations students and staff have to deal with when faced with cultural incompetence or racism from staff or students or both? What would you do about it?
  • What is meant by the term ‘the invisibility of whiteness’? (See for example )

Scene 3: "I was sitting in this tutorial today. It was a discussion on identity and culture"

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement

Scene 4: "It took me a while to come into the library"

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement

  • How do we make online environments more welcoming to First Nations students and staff?
  • What book (text or novel) would you encourage people to read to explore issues of social justice and reconciliation?

Scene 5: "Bar night was on last night"

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement

Scene 6: "Well how would you know? Cassie you good thing!”

Possible discussion questions to encourage further staff engagement

  • What are the comparative success and completion rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students? How has this changed in the past three years? What might be the reasons?
  • Explore how success reverberate throughout First Nations Communities. What are some of the good stories? How do we make more good stories?


This series of videos (Videos) has been created for the purpose of professional development and cultural understanding and cultural respect for Charles Sturt University staff. The students in the Videos have voluntarily shared their stories in the hope of raising awareness of some of the barriers that Indigenous students can face as students at Charles Sturt.


The Videos have been prepared solely for internal use at Charles Sturt to show to Charles Sturt staff on password protected platforms. 

Unless otherwise permitted by Charles Sturt, the Videos must not be distributed externally or reproduced for external distribution in any form or shown to anyone who is not a member of Charles Sturt staff or linked to any platform available to Charles Sturt staff that is not password protected.  This is out of respect to the Indigenous students in the Videos, and their families and communities.

It is important to respect that this video is not for external distribution. The students have only provided permission for their internal release and use by Charles Sturt University staff.

In the Classroom

It is important to respect that this video is not for external distribution. The students have only provided permission for their internal release and use by Charles Sturt University staff.

Family and Community support

It is important to respect that this video is not for external distribution. The students have only provided permission for their internal release and use by Charles Sturt University staff.

My relationship with my fellow students

Indigenous cultural competence requires commitment to a whole-of-institution approach, and includes effective and ongoing support for First Nations students. Inclusive policies and procedures, as well as allocation of sufficient resources to foster culturally competent behaviour and practice at all levels of the institution greatly increase the chances of success for Indigenous students.

These videos demonstrate the importance of the Indigenous Cultural Competency program as a way for staff to support First Nations students during their time at Charles Sturt and are, in many respects the qualitative evidence as to why effective engagement with cultural competency by all staff is so important.


The ‘FirstDegree’ project created an extensive series of public-facing resources aimed at improving the capacity of students to succeed in all aspects of their university journey. Further videos with First Nations students talking about their university experiences are available at First Degree – Indigenous Experience

If you have any questions or concerns about the Videos, please contact or to Kara King FirstDegree Program Lead (Office for Students)

How can we prove we have made a difference?
  • Responding to First Nations community needs
  • Engagement from the First Nations community in our spaces online and on campus
  • Increased First Nations staff numbers
  • Increased First Nations student numbers
  • Publishing on what is happening
  • Amended plans that set targets and sequentially go about business to achieve these targets
  • Institutional reports and research articulating improvement
Some ideas...
  • You could establish i2 sites at
  • Get your group to use Flip Grid or Padlet or Base Camp to share your responses
  • Celebrating achievements by setting up intentional communities of practice or using Face Book or Twitter or, Yammer and What’s New and News within Charles Sturt.
  • Think about what we are doing well and show this to the University wide community. Promote what is working in your world and what is challenging?
  • Set some tight timelines

When you have something you think would be useful to share with our wider University community, send it to us and we can collate these to get a helicopter view of what is happening around Charles Sturt.

Send these to with the subject heading “Stage 2- ICCP, evidence”.

Contact the (Acting) Academic Lead (First Nations Curriculum) Lloyd Dolan for assistance in utilising Cassie’s Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya within your group discussions.

Please let us know if this Guide can be made more useful to the needs of your discussion groups by contacting us at

In relation to Cassie’s Story 2: Mingaan Migay Yalbilinya, we would like to acknowledge the work and contribution of the following people:

  • Aunty Gloria Dindima Rogers, Wiradyuri Elder.
  • Charles Sturt Division of Learning and Teaching staff: In the Gulaay Indigenous Australian Curriculum & Resources team, Dr Barbara Hill, Kate Rose & Jade Flynn.
  • Ryun Fell, Sue Theobald and Janene Wright, Media Services, Division of Learning and Teaching.
  • Original artwork by Natasha Townsend, CSPrint, Division of Student Learning.
  • Educational design work and developmental assistance is attributed to Linda Ward and Lynn Flynn.
  • The script was written and developed by Dr Barbara Hill in consultation with Aunty Gloria Dindima Rogers.
  • In addition the following people have contributed professionally to the development of this resource: Ms Kate Smith as Director of the script and Ms Elise Hull, the voice of Cassie.