Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

An understanding of ontological differences between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is foundational for understanding cultural difference and engaging in transformational leadership. Leadership which embodies the principles of vision, values, relationships, transformation, resilience, reciprocity, integrity, cultural safety, culturally responsive community engagement and practice and ethics and morality


In this unit, students will engage with and critically reflect on Western scholarship that has sought to define and position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures through their Eurocentric lenses.


The aim of this unit is to enable students to contextualise fundamental understandings associated with the privileging of Indigenous Knowings in an Australian context.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate respect and contextualise First Nations Knowings (GA1, GA2, GA4; APST (HA) 1.4; APSP 2)

LO2 - Understand, engage with, reflect on and synthesise First Nations storying within their own leadership contexts (GA4, GA8; APST (HA) 2.4; APSP 2)

LO3 - Reflect and synthesise on their own connection and relatedness to ‘Country’ and apply this in their leadership contexts (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8; APST (HA) 2.4; APSP 2)

LO4 - Critically analyse, through a process of deep reflection, differing First Nations peoples’ and non-Indigenous peoples’ world views as these impact on their leadership context (GA4, GA8; APST (HA) 2.4, 7.3, 7.4; APSP 2, 5).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students

Provide advice and support colleagues in the implementation of effective teaching strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students using knowledge of and support from community representatives.

2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Support colleagues with providing opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

7.3 Engage with the parents/carers

Demonstrate responsiveness in all communications with parents/carers about their children’s learning and wellbeing.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Contribute to professional networks and associations and build productive links with the wider community to improve teaching and learning.


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the Professional Practices:

2. Professional Practice: Developing self and others

Principals work with and through others to build a professional learning community that is focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Through managing performance, effective continuing professional learning and feedback, they support all staff to achieve high standards and develop their leadership capacity. Principals support others to build capacity and treat people fairly and with respect. They model effective leadership and are committed to their own ongoing professional development and personal health and wellbeing in order to manage the complexity of the role and the range of learning capabilities and actions required of the role.

5. Professional Practice: Engaging and working with the community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics include

  • First Nations concept of ‘Country’
  • Story and Narrative as expressions of First Nations’ Knowings
  • Relatedness, belonging and connectedness
  • Feeling
  • Deep listening and reflection
  • Performative expressions of First Nations Knowings: environmental and inspirational literacies
  • Instinct, memory, visioning and collective consciousness
  • ‘Waiting-time’: tangential space and time
  • Clock and compass

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching activities offer students and lecturers/tutors the opportunity to journey their perspectives, their individual theories and praxis in such ways as to engage in shared learning and model the principles being facilitated through the unit. It encourages collaboration with each other as well as with First Nations communities in authentic partnership arrangements. Immersion in Country and culture is also foundational as a teaching and learning strategy. Yarning circles, critical thinking and reflection are fundamental strategies. This specialist strand is taught by Australian First Nations people.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total. In order to support students’ learning experience in ways that are most engaging, efficient and effective, the overall teaching strategy used in this unit is a progressive developmental one. All modes of delivery in which this unit is offered use the Learning Management System (LEO). 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment in the First Nations specialisation strand is focused around the importance of collaborative learning, critical thinking, self-reflection and culturally responsive community engagement practice. The aim is to build a learning community of scholars who are committed to transformational change. In order to effect these a highly structured and open-ended process for authentically documenting Indigenous Knowing’s Storying and Country through Life Journey Plan will be developed from the first Unit and followed through each of the other units. This Plan will track people’s attitudes from the outset. Further, peer assessment and cultural immersion are important. The First Nations specialisation strand will employ genuine cultural immersion attached to students actively and transformatively spending 5 days in the community hosting the World Indigenous Peoples Conference: Education (WIPC:E) prior to the conference. The students would then present at WIPC:E. If this conference and forum is not available other experiences will be negotiated between the student, the Lecturer in Charge of the Unit and with First Nations communities in Australia.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit or participate in all assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

Life Journey Plan: comprises two elements

  1. Journal and Self Reflection
  2. Three Peer Assessments of each other’s Journal and Self Reflection engaging on-line collaboration


(1. - 25%)

(2. - 25%)

LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

Group presentation engaging multiple literacies



GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Life Journey Plan: comprises two elements

  1. Journal and Self Reflection: This task is about journeying the students’ attitudes; their individual theories and praxis done in such a way as to engage collaborative learning and model the principles being facilitated through the unit. This Plan is an ongoing Plan developed through the three units offered in the specialist strand.

a) Students will journal (using multiple literacies) responses to the following:

  • What made you come to this university to do this course?
  • What expectations did you have at the beginning?
  • What aims did you have at the beginning?
  • What previous experience/s have you had with First Nations peoples and/or with leadership engaging First Nations peoples?
  • What got you to this point?
  • What knowledge do you anticipate getting from this unit?
  • How do you plan to use the knowledge gained?

b) Students will critically analyse, through a process of deep reflection and synthesise the initial responses they identified at the outset of the unit with those identified at the completion of the unit. They will reflect on their peers assessments of their Journal.

2. Three peer assessments: on-line and in group feedback teams. Students assess three of their peers’ Life Journey Plans. These are not blind assessments.


Group Presentation

Students work collaboratively in groups of no more than four people to model the concepts learnt. They engage with an Aboriginal community to develop something embodying transformative leadership and a service model. They, using multiple literacies, develop a presentation for their colleagues. Their colleagues assess and grade their presentations to the total of 40%. The lecturer’s grade contributes the remaining 60%.

Representative texts and references

Australian Indigenous Governance Institute Indigenous Governance Toolkit.

Archibald, J., Lee-Morgan, J., & De Santo, J. (2019) Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology. London: Zed Books.

Althaus, C., & O’Faicheallaigh, C. (2019). Leading from between: Indigenous participation and leadership in the public service. London: McGill-Queens University Press.

Davis, J. (2018). Durithunga: Growing, nurturing, challenging and supporting urban indigenous leadership in education.PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Fredericks, B., Maynor, P., White, N., English, F., & Ehrich, L. (2014). Living with the Legacy of Conquest and Culture: Social Justice Leadership for the Indigenous peoples of Australia and America. International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Social (In) Justice, New York, NY: Springer.

Ma Rhea, Z (2015). Leading and managing Indigenous education in the postcolonial world. New York NY: Routledge.

Ryan, T & Evans M (2020) The wisdom of differentiating between Indigenous Leader and Indigenous leadership Chapter 3 cited Intezari, A (ed.) Practical Wisdom, Leadership and Culture: Indigenous, Asian and Middle-Eastern Perspectives. Taylor & Francis Group. London.

Ryan, T. (2018) Deadly women: An analysis of Indigenous women’s leadership in Australia (PhD thesis) Canberra, ACT: University of Canberra.

Voyageur, C. (2015) Restorying Indigenous leadership: Wise practices in community development. Alberta Canada. Banff Centre Press.

Watkin, E. (2015). Leadership FIT for everyday living. Surrey Hills, Vic: Michael Hanrahan Publishing.

Wright, S., Suchet-Pearson, S., Lloyd, K., Burarrwanga, L., Ganambarr, R., Ganambarr-Stubbs, M., & Maymuru, D. (2015). Bawaka Country. Working with and learning from country: decentring human authority. Cultural Geographies, 22(2), pp.269-283.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs