Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Educational leaders need to be able to moves beyond the theorising of transformative leadership to how best to interpret First Nations concepts of leadership in a variety of national and international contexts.

In this unit, students will explore how the Knowings, understandings, values and skills of leadership in their local community can be applied to other First Nations’ leadership contexts. They will be mindful of the leadership principles of vision, values, relationships, transformation, resilience, reciprocity, integrity, cultural safety, culturally responsive community engagement and practice and ethics and morality embodied in the concept First Nations leadership. Students are immersed into cultural experiences, which honour First Nations leadership perspectives. These may include decentralised leadership, immanent value of all things, non-interference, co-becoming, co-creation, and collectivist decision making.

The aim of this unit is to explore First Nations leadership through the experiences of leaders from other First Nations peoples around the world.  

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 - Critically appraise, contextualise and apply First Nations’ Knowings by sensitively exploring concepts of co-becoming, co-creation and strategies of attending through respectful engagement and application of First Nations storying locally and globally as they impact their own leadership contexts (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8; APST HA 1.4, 2.4, 7.4; APSP 1, 2)

LO2 - Analyse and critically engage with concepts of wellness and celebration, in contrast to accepting deficit conceptualisings and modelling in leadership development (GA4, GA8; APST HA 2.4; APSP 2, 3)

LO3 - Critically explore how young minds may authentically engage with First Nations’ leadership (APST HA 1.4, 2.4, 3.5, 7.1; APSP 2, 3, 5)

LO4 - Evaluate and apply how First Nations and non-Indigenous Australian world views may influence their leadership decision makings (GA4, GA8; APST HA 2.4, 7.3, 7.4; APSP 3, 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.

3.5 Use effective classroom communication

Assist colleagues to select a wide range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement.

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.

7.3 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: 

1. Professional Practice: Leading teaching and learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice.

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.

3 Professional Practice: Leading improvement, innovation and change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

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:

  • Concept and practice of Co-becoming* with Country: First Nations Leadership in context
  • Methodology of ‘attending’ through an ethics of care*Concept and practice of Co-creation
  • Critical analysis and reflection of the illusions created of First Nations leadership projected through media, government policy and Academy Index of well-being and happiness
  • How young minds engage with First Nations Leadership in a celebratory better world
  • International First Nations storying of Leadership.
  • Contextualising the range of different styles and approaches
  • Mutually rewarding relationships: exploring different forms of capital
  • Engaging individual and community skills in leadership practice
  • Contributive and distributive justice in First Nations Leadership contexts.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching activities offer students and lecturers/tutors the opportunities to journey their outlooks, their individual theories and praxis in such ways as to engage 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 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:

  1. Academic Research, and
  2. Self-Reflection


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

Case Studies - Storyd[1]:

Research and story a local and an international case study engaging First Nations Leadership context. Reflect on synthesise and demonstrate how each of the chosen contexts engage the following elements; co-becoming with Countrys, a methodology of attending, co-creation, the role of young people, wellbeing and happiness, the role of individuals and groups/community and showcase media/public presentation of these contexts.

[1] The spelling of ‘storyd’ reflects Indigenous Knowings and identifies a difference to Western story telling as developed throughout this unit



GA1, GA2, GA4, GA8

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.

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