More than good will: A review of governance and authentic engagement in embedding Indigenous cultural competence into allied health curricula

Caroline Robinson (Presenter), Brett Biles (Presenter), Kay Skinner (Presenter), Melinda Lewis

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Rationale: Charles Sturt University (CSU) endorsed its Indigenous Education Strategy in 2008, which provided a comprehensive framework for a whole-of-institution approach to embedding Indigenous education. This aligned with the Faculty of Science’s engagement in curriculum development informed by Universities Australia’s National Best Practice for Indigenous Cultural Competence (2011), its revised Indigenous Strategy 2017–2020, and the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (2016) within CSU’s Indigenous Content in Courses Policy (2016–20). Aims: The project aims to identify the various factors and drivers that are essential to sustain curriculum innovation beyond the short term (1), and to encourage wider implementation of these factors across the institution to ensure sustainable collaborative Indigenous health education and cultural competency development within degrees (2). Our presentation discusses a review of curriculum development in allied health, with a specific focus on the Bachelor of Physiotherapy. We draw on individual teacher reflections, student feedback and curriculum artefacts to build a historical and pedagogical narrative. This was achieved through authentic engagement with Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders, the act of yarning to explore academic staff experiences, and an online survey to gain initial insights into students’ perceptions of their cultural capability. Results: Our comprehensive review identified several enabling factors, such as partnerships and collaboration within and outside the university; teaching and learning experiences integrated both vertically and horizontally into allied health degrees offering a scaffolded learning journey; and continuing good will from all involved. Emergent themes from the survey data focused on ‘navigating the journey for and with students’, and included scaffolding the process of change; professional socialisation and identity; and reframing the meaning and measures of ‘academic success’ in Indigenous cultural capability curriculum and professional practices.Discussion/implications: Cultural capability curriculum is complex because both students and teachers are embedded in their own cultural context. Interaction and engagement with this work has enabled individual developmental journeys for academics, a collective journey for the School of Community Health, and positive progress in embedding Indigenous health education for graduates. To ensure cultural competence curricula is more than just an agenda item, the place of personal and professional goodwill was highlighted. These learnings can inform curriculum governance and strategy, and extend beyond allied health academics to discussions with Elder groups and their communities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventLIME Connection 2019 - Hosted by The University of Otago Christchurch., Christchurch, New Zealand
Duration: 05 Nov 201908 Nov 2019


ConferenceLIME Connection 2019
Abbreviated titlePouhine Poutama: Embedding Indigenous Health Education
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address


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