Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Australian schooling aims to promote equity and excellence, and for all children and young people to become successful learners and confident and creative individuals. Teachers must develop knowledges and understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and histories and cultures in order to support learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds to achieve this goal. Teachers also need an awareness of skills, protocols, sensitivities and educational practices required for teaching all students about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing. 

This unit develops teacher knowledges and understandings of the complexity and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages, and the impact of cultural identity and language background on the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Through critical reflection on the literature, and sensitive engagement in discussion and collaborative tasks, you will develop an understanding of educational philosophy, contemporary issues, contexts and policies shaping the educational experiences of Australia’s first peoples. Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, the ways of teaching from an Indigenous perspective and how to work culturally with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and communities is explored. Teachers will gain a thorough understanding on how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives utilising the cross-curriculum priority area of the National Curriculum.

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-Describe the impact of colonial and post-colonial experiences on the histories, cultures, relationships and interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (GA1, GA4; GA8, APST 2.4)

LO2-Analyse contemporary issues, history, context and government policies and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 2.4)

LO3-Develop practical strategies for building rapport and understanding on how to work culturally and to communicate authentically and effectively within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners, communities and knowledges. (GA1, GA4, GA7, GA8; APST 1.3, 1.4, 2.4, 3.7, 4.1, 7.3) 

LO4-Apply the concepts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and pedagogy across the curriculum, including content, resources and teaching and assessment strategies whilst embedding the cross-curriculum priorities of the National Curriculum (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.3, 1.4, 2.4, 3.5, 7.2, 7.4)

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 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

3.7 Describe a broad range of strategies for involving parents/carers in the educative process.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

7.4 Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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, pre-service teachers must 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. The learning and teaching strategies include a range of approaches to support learning such as readings, reflections, discussions, webinars, podcasts, videos etc. These strategies will combine to developmentally progress the participant first through a preliminary in-depth understanding of and ability to analyse important theoretical and contemporary issues relevant to unit learning outcomes, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, languages, knowledges and pedagogies, and the impact of culture, identity, racism, and media portrayal on the experiences and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As the participant experience becomes more place-based (during their employment-based teaching experience at their designated two year placement), they will continue to read, view, and discuss these issues but situate them in the context of their own classrooms, schools, and broader communities, and engage in activities that emphasise creating and applying knowledge and skills to create effective teaching and learning opportunities, and engaging with key stakeholders in their broader community, including local indigenous organisations.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

Assessment tasks have been developed and sequenced in alignment with students’ progression towards the learning outcomes. Students will first develop the ability to describe the impact of colonial and post-colonial experiences in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and analyse contemporary issues, history, context and policy and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which will be assessed via a critical analysis of media. In support of students’ unique professional experience contexts via this course’s employment-based component, students will be able to identify and select media that is relevant to the context of their learners, school, and/or community. After successful completion of the first task, the second task emphasises the unit’s third and fourth learning outcomes, which are translated into the development of a unit of work, informed by localised engagement in the student’s community of professional placement, and one or more of their assigned classes. The third and final task is a rolling and cumulative task, with elements that will be compiled and completed via reflective journaling throughout the unit, revised in preparation for final submission, and focused in particular on the second and third learning outcomes of this unit. The third task closes the unit as it stands as one of the course’s Critical Tasks for Initial Teacher Education (CTITE), a summative assessment of a range of focus areas within the Graduate-level Australian Professional Standards for Teaching, particularly relevant to the unit learning outcomes and content area foci for this unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Critical Analysis of Media

Pre-service teachers will find two stories in the media (using social media, print media and broadcast media) that have occurred in the past 12 months regarding Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, and reflect and analyse the significance of the stories in light of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and histories.

For consideration:

From whose perspective is the story portrayed? Why is it portrayed this way?  

Does it have any relevance to the local community where you are currently teaching?   

Was there a particular bias within the story?

Has the story been portrayed differently elsewhere?

Pre-service teachers will prepare a personal reflection on the story and its significance. 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Unit Development

Pre-service teachers will identify an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation (preferably) in their local area.

Pre-service teachers will:  

·        Research the services it provides.

·        Review methods of communication the service engages in.

·        Read any research or reports the service has shared to the community. 

Develop a unit of work (3 lessons) that could be used within your school; how does it align with the National Curriculum and does it incorporate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cross-Curriculum priority area? Include a review of the organisation, the way the organisation supports families or school colleagues and how a school can utilise the facilities, services offered, or whether the activities be transferred into the school curriculum. 

Pre-service teachers will research the service, either online or by making contact. Lecturers will provide a list of possible Indigenous organisations should the local community not have an appropriate service.


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8 

Assessment Task 3 (CTITE 2)

Reflective Journal

Individually write a reflective journal that draws together understandings from the weekly lectures, tutorial/workshop activities and prescribed readings. The journal entries demonstrate critical reflection and growing understanding of:

(a)   the impact of colonial and postcolonial experiences 

(b)   contemporary issues, history, context and policies and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

(c)   the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, working with communities, knowledges, pedagogies

(d)   Consider and evaluate how your personal reflections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has developed throughout the unit.  

Pre-service teachers will reflect and include how the content learnt throughout the unit will influence their teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and with the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives within your class or school.  


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references


Required text(s)

Price, K., & Rogers, J. (Ed). (2019). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. An Introduction

for the teaching profession. (3rd ed.) Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.


Recommended references

Battiste, M., & Henderson, J. Y. (2000). Protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage. A global challenge. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: Purich Publishing Ltd.

Blair, N. (2015). Aboriginal Education: More than adding perspectives. In Noelene L. Weatherby-Fell (Ed). Learning to Teach in the Secondary School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.189-208.

Clark, A. (2008). History’s children: History wars in the classroom. Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales Press.

Craven, R. (Ed.) (2011) Teaching Aboriginal studies: A practical resource for primary and secondary teaching. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Harrison, N., & Sellwood, J. (2016). Teaching and learning in Aboriginal education (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Kickett-Tucker, C. (Ed). (2017). Mia Mia. Aboriginal community development. Fostering cultural security. Port Melbourne. Vic: Cambridge University Press.

Nakata, M. (2007). Disciplining the savages. Savaging the disciplines. Canberra, ACT: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Phillips, J., & Lampert, J. (2012). Introductory Indigenous studies in education. Reflection and the importance of knowing (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Purdie, N., Milgate, G., & Bell, H.R. (Ed). (2011). Two-way teaching and learning: toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Camberwell, Vic: Acer Press.

Perso, T., & Hayward, C. (2015) Teaching Indigenous students: Cultural awareness and classroom          strategies for improving learning outcomes. Crows Nest NSW: Allen & Unwin.  


Online resources and policies                                                           

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

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