A working guide towards debiasing higher education through the affordances of Indigenous Australian cultural competence curriculum

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Can cultural competence curriculum mitigate forms of known bias in teaching, learning and university curriculum? We explore forms of bias at individual and institutional levels, informed by our experiences as academic developers in the Division of Learning and Teaching at Charles Sturt University. We share that our work is supported through sensitive relationships with Wiradjuri and Ngiyeempaa Elders who are traditional knowledge holders, university policies, education strategy, and enacted through curriculum consultation and professional development with teachers. We reflect on many forms of educational and personal biases inherent in our professional practices. Personal biases arise from a range of influences and experiences across the lifespan which may be unconscious, hidden, implied or deliberate. Institutional forms of bias, for example, structural racism, may arise from deep historical, cultural and societal legacies, where their origins and implications for contemporary higher education may not be well understood. If people and their places of employment are anchored within multiple forms of bias, how can we better enable each of us to pull up our anchor, and bring awareness to the types of biases that may inform decision-making? One of the ongoing practices towards cultural competency is to become more reflexive and critically aware of our own biases, and work towards advocating for changes within disciplines and professional practices through the organization of curriculum. The question of whether unconscious biases can be recalibrated, reduced or eliminated through teaching about bias is one form of debiasing, and may also be a pathway towards decolonising the academy. A preliminary working guide towards debiasing university education through practices known to support the embedding of an Indigenous Cultural Competence Graduate Learning Outcome at Charles Sturt University is offered below. It is our hope that an increased awareness of the tangible and intangible effects of bias within individuals and groups, and the structural biases in which we work, will improve contemporary education policies and practices, which in-turn will improve outcomes for First Nations communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching Aboriginal Cultural Competence
Subtitle of host publicationAuthentic approaches
EditorsBarbara Hill, Jillene Harris, Ruth Bacchus
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789811572012
ISBN (Print)9789811572005
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020


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