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Curtin promotes Indigenous culture through new staff programs

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A new program introduced at Curtin University aims to help staff gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous Australian culture through seminars, workshops and on-country visits with Noongar elders, as part of intensive culture emersion experiences.

The Indigenous Cultural Capabilities Framework, run through Curtin’s Office of the Elder in Residence, takes a three-tiered approach to promoting an understanding of Indigenous culture, knowledge and history.

The first tier, Ways of Working, is an introduction to Aboriginal society and culture and is conducted by the Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS). The second tier of the framework is a cultural development program where staff members participate in on-country visits and the third stage involves an extended three or four day cultural emersion visit to a culturally significant Indigenous site.

Elder in Residence, Associate Professor Simon Forrest, said the Framework was an opportunity for staff to further develop their knowledge and understanding of Australian history and the current issues relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The Framework is aimed at academic staff and how they might introduce Aboriginal aspects, culture and principles into their curriculum,” Associate Professor Forrest said.

“There is also a component for students to participate in the on-country visits where they are taught about Indigenous culture outside of the classroom.

“This introduces staff and students to a Noongar concept, Boodja Neh, which means ‘listening to the land’ that involves touching, smelling, seeing, hearing and tasting the land and the animals around them,” he said.

Professor Jill Downie, Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, said the Framework reflects the University’s goal of encouraging Indigenous cultural capability for all staff and students.

“The Framework will provide opportunities for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff to explore how they work together at Curtin and enable students to learn and experience aspects of Indigenous culture into their course of studies,” Professor Downie said.

“Indigenous perspectives are embedded into many academic units at Curtin and in the future we hope to fully integrate Australian Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives into all of the undergraduate curricula.”

The Indigenous Cultural Capabilities Framework is a commitment of Curtin’s 2013-2017 Reconciliation Action Plan.

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