INCORPORATING INDIGENOUS CULTURALCOMPETENCYTHROUGH THE BROADER LAWCURRICULUM AJWOOD
I INTRODUCTION Itmightappearself-evidentthatAustralianlawschoolsshould teach IndigenousCulturalCompetencies(ICC)andperspectives aspartoftheircurriculum.1 Ifitisnot,thentheUniversities Australia (UA) 2011 Cultural Competency Framework Report2 reiteratestheimportanceofaninclusivecurriculum.3 However,UA recognisesthattobedoneeffectively,thereneedstobeprovision in such a curriculum for Indigenous cultural competency,4If this premise is correct then, in addition to the appropriate pedagogical considerationsthatunderliegoodteachinggenerally,developingICC among a cohort of students necessitates the addition of structured andtargetedbutsafe‘Indigenousspace’withinthecurriculum5
—onethatprovidesanopportunityforconstructiveengagement. *ANUCollegeofLawandSeniorResearchFellowandHigherDegreeResearch (HDR)ProgrammeManager,NationalCentreforIndigenousStudiesattheANU HeisamemberoftheNationalIndigenousResearchersandKnowledgesNetwork (NIRAKN).TheauthorwouldliketoacknowledgeDrCressidaForde’scomments on the early draft.
1 ManycountriesrecognisetheirFirstNationsPeoplesanditwouldseemreasonable to improve the broader community’sunderstanding of these peoples. Further Australia endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (‘DRIP’): United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesGA/RES/61/295,UNGAOR,61stsess,107thplen mtg, SuppNo49,UN DocA/RES/61/295, UNGAOR ( 13 September 2007); andANU law students, as future lawyers and leaders, will be expected to have some familiarity with DRIP. Hence some formal study of these areas would greatly assist law students while simultaneously improving the level of cultural competence generally.
3UACC Report, above n 2, 52; UACC Report xxvi, also recommended the incorporation of Indigenous knowledges in the broader curriculum.
4 Universities Australia,GuidingPrinciplesfortheDevelopmentofIndigenous CulturalCompetencyin AustralianUniversities,(Canberra,October2011)3. [Referred to as the UACC Guiding Principles hereafter]
5 See discussion at n 26 below.
This‘space’shouldbecharacterisedbyanopportunityforstudents to engage with fellow Indigenous students, who in turn should feel safe for the sometimes confronting nature of the material, which oftenoriginatesintheircommunitiesorsometimesevenhaslinks to their families. Engagement takes place at both an individual and group level, and introduces a broad range of subjective, informed Indigenous perspectives.
While a great deal of lip service is often paid to these goals of inclusion in higher education, there isa paucity ofgoodpractice. There is also a dearth of knowledge, research and information on Indigenousknowledgesandperspectives.The AustralianResearch Council (ARC) arguably has recognised this gap and has funded an extensivenetworkofseveralIndigenousresearchersfromarange ofdisciplines undertheleadership oftheinternationally renowned professor AileenMoreton-Robinson,6 theNationalIndigenous ResearchersandKnowledgesNetwork(NIRAKN). Thenetwork couldsignificantlycontributetothevolumeofIndigenousknowledge and hence to improve ICC.7
There are many important reasons for incorporating Indigenous knowledgesintothebroadercurriculumandafulldiscussionof this issue is outside the scope of this paper. However, a society that believesandcharacterisesitselfasa‘knowledgenation’8 mustgive some consideration to the custodians of knowledge of the land and its waters even if only for its practical benefits. On a more ordinary level,PrimeMinister Abbott,thenLeaderoftheOpposition,aptly putthisas‘[Australia]istheenvyoftheearth,exceptforonething