Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit examines the history and development of education policies and practices, in particular in relation to Indigenous education and the impact of policy on educational practices in different settings and on different school systems. It informs pre-service teachers as they learn to take on roles as teachers and leaders.

The aim of this unit is to assist pre-service teachers to develop an in-depth understanding of the impact of education policies and practices in diverse settings, particularly in relation to Indigenous education in Australia and nationally. In doing so, pre-service teachers will develop their own teaching philosophy for engaging as leaders in Indigenous education.

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 the historical context of Indigenous education in Australia and its impact on Indigenous education today (GA1, GA4; APST 1.4, 2.4)

LO2 - understand and appreciate the impact of different systems and settings on Indigenous educational experience nationally and internationally (GA1, GA4, GA6; APST 1.4, 2.4)

LO3 - articulate their own teaching philosophy (GA4; APST 1.4, 2.4)

LO4 - be prepared and professionally equipped as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander teacher for engaging in and with schools, Departmental and Diocesan structures and environments (GA1, GA3, GA5; APST 1.4, 2.4, 7.1)

LO5 - demonstrate an understanding of Indigenous leadership and have developed personal strategies for engaging as a leader in Indigenous education (GA1, GA4; APST 1.4, 2.4, 7.4).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account.


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

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.

7.1 Understand and apply the key principles described in codes of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession.

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


Topics will include:

  • Review of the concepts of Indigenous Knowings and Western Knowledge
  • History of Aboriginal education in NSW and the State and Territory unit being offered in
  • Policies and issues impacting Aboriginal education in NSW and States and Territories unit being offered in: Dreamtime – 1967
  • Policies and issues impacting Indigenous education 1967- present
  • The role of Aboriginal Education Assistants/Officers in the Indigenous education journey in NSW
  • Indigenous education globally: an overview of histories and challenges
  • Developing and engaging with philosophies of teaching and learning
  • Leadership in Indigenous education
  • Community voices and structures in Indigenous education in NSW, State and Territory unit being offered in and nationally
  • Exploring different settings and systems for Indigenous education: Catholic education, other religious denomination schools, Montessori, Indigenous schools, and geographically different schools: remote, rural and urban schools.
  • Being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander teacher or a teacher who happens to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in 21st-century schools and educational environments and settings
  • Professional standards and ethics as they relate to racism.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This course is offered in a mixed-mode. Pre-service teachers are required to attend two compulsory residential schools on campus each semester and to complete course work and assignments within their home communities. Pre-service teachers are required to attend over 80% of each Residential and each unit undertaken. Pre-service teachers are required to achieve a pass grade in each assignment task offered in every unit.

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, including: Lectures, Talking Circles and Yarns.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes and demonstrate attainment of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The unit focuses on developing an understanding of, and skills across the professional knowledge, practice and engagement needed to meet expectations of the Graduate Attributes.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, participants are required to submit and engage in each assignment task offered.

The total assessment tasks will amount to the equivalent of 4,000 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

On-line discussion of designated readings (between Residential Blocks) for personal reflection and critical analysis of policies and issues in Indigenous education; nationally and internationally.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA6

Assessment Task 2

A seminar presentation that selects an education system and/or setting to explore the history and issues impacting the implementation of Indigenous education.

Each presentation should take 15-20 minutes including group discussion.

Each presentation should consist of a detailed analysis of their chosen system and/or setting. Ideally, this should consist of a succinct summary of the issue being considered and trace developments in this particular issue over time.

The presentation must include some commentary on the current state of this issue and potential developments in the future. Remember story and narrative are important resources here.

The presentation should not be in the form of a lecture but should allow for interaction between all members of the group.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA6

Assessment Task 3

A written paper of 1,500-2,000 words on Indigenous leadership in Education.

Reflect on and critically analyse one aspect of Indigenous leadership in Indigenous education using examples and case studies to develop your perspective.

You will need to develop a question which your lecturer approves; this can be the most difficult part of essay writing and research. Think carefully and critically.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

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

Fletcher, J.J. (1989). Clean, clad and courteous: A history of Aboriginal education in NSW. Sydney, NSW: Southwood Press.

Fletcher, J.J. (1989). Documents in the history of Aboriginal education in NSW. Sydney, NSW: Southwood Press.

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (2012). 8 ways Aboriginal pedagogy. Dubbo, NSW: The Bangamalanha Centre.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.). New York, NY: Continuum.

Harrison, N. (2011). Teaching and learning in Indigenous education. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

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

Price, K. (Ed). (2012). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. An Introduction for the teaching profession, Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.

Sarra, C. (2012). Good morning Mr Sarra: My life working for a stronger, smarter future for our children. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press.

Purdie, N., Milgate, G., & Bell, H.R. (Eds). (2011) Two way teaching and learning. Toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Camberwell, Vic: ACER Press.

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