Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

An understanding of the concepts associated with transformative leadership in an Australian Indigenous context is explored and researched.

In this unit, students analyse critically, and reflect on definitions of First Nations’ Transformative Leadership which embodies the following principles: vision, values, relationships, transformation, resilience, reciprocity, integrity, cultural safety, culturally responsive community engagement and practice and ethics and morality. Students will explore concepts embodied in the theory and practice of First Nations Leadership prior to colonisation, during the ‘History Wars’ within Australia and its impacts on Indigenous Australia today. They apply this knowledge through an exploration of their own cultural and personal values as individuals and leaders. Further they apply this through engagement with First Nations peoples/communities.

The aim of this unit is to enable students to contextualise Australian Indigenous Knowings, Being and Doing as related to Indigenous Leadership within their own families, communities and workplaces. 

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 - Understand, respect and contextualise the concept of First Nations Transformational Leadership (GA1, GA2, GA4; APST (HA) 1.4, 2.4; APSP 2, 5)

LO2 - Reflect on their own understanding of leadership and apply this in their particular leadership context (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8; APST (HA) 2.4; APSP 2, 5)

LO3 - Critically analyse, reflect on and synthesise shared values and differences between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Australian concepts of leadership as these influence their leadership contexts (GA4, GA8; APST (HA) 2.4, 7.1, 7.2, 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.

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Maintain high ethical standards and support colleagues to interpret codes of ethics and exercise sound judgement in all school and community contexts.

7.2 Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Support colleagues to review and interpret legislative, administrative, and organisational requirements, policies and processes.

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 following 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 will include:

  • Living Spaces and Indigenous Leadership
  • Methodology of ‘Attending’
  • Defining First Nations Transformative Leadership from pre-colonisation to contemporary contexts
  • Impediments to effective transformation
  • Cultural Safety including concepts of ‘whiteness’, ‘white privilege’, standards, racism
  • ‘Contributive’ Justice
  • Collective Wisdom
  • Capacity strengthening
  • Principle of Co-responsibility
  • De-contamination: exploring colonisation and colonialism
  • Unlearning decontextualised and culturally inappropriate skills
  • Non-adversarial collective collaboration

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching activities offer students and lecturers/tutors the opportunity to journey their outlooks, their individual theories and praxis done in such ways as to engage shared learning and model the principles being facilitated through the unit. It engages collaboration with each other as well as with First Nations communities in authentic partnership arrangements. Immersion in country and culture is also foundational as teaching and learning strategies. 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 across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy

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 realise such, a highly structured and open-ended process for authentically documenting Indigenous Knowing’s Storying and Country through a 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 of following two elements

  1. Academic Research, and
  2. Self-Reflection


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

Group presentation engaging multiple literacies



GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Life Journey Plan

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.

Group Presentation

Students will work collaboratively in groups of no more than four people to model the concepts learnt around employing transformative leadership and modelling. They will engage with an Aboriginal community to develop a plan that focuses on transformative leadership as a service model. They will, using multiple literacies, develop a presentation for their colleagues. They will provide verbal feedback to the groups post presentation. 

Representative texts and references

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

Archibald, J., Lee-Morgan, J., & De Santo, J. (2019). Decolonizing research: Indigenous storywork as methodology. London, UK: Zed Books.   

Evans. M., & Sinclair. A. (2015). Navigating the territories of Indigenous leadership: Exploring the experiences and practices of Australian Indigenous arts leaders. DOI:10.1177/1742715015574318.

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, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Kenny, C., & Ngaroimata Fraser, T. (2013). Living Indigenous leadership: Native narratives on building strong communities. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia.

Maranzan. K., Sabouring, A., & Simard-Chicago, C. (2013). A Community-Based Leadership Development Program for First Nations Women: Revaluing and Honoring Women’s Strengths. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 4(2).

Ma Rhea, Z. (2015). Leading and Managing Indigenous Education in the postcolonial World. New York, NY: Routledge.

Voyageur, C. (2015). Restorying Indigenous leadership: Wise practices in community development (2nd ed.). Alberta, Canada. Banff Centre Press.

Watkin, E. (2015). LeadershipFIT 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.

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