Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The Australian education system promotes equity and excellence, and for all children and young people to become successful learners as well as creative and confident individuals. Teachers must develop knowledges of, understandings about and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, histories and cultures in order to support Indigenous learners. Teachers also need an awareness of Indigenous protocols, sensitivities and educational practices in order to be able to teach students about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing.

This unit develops teachers’ knowledges and understandings of the complexity and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, languages, and the impact of cultural identity and diversity of Australia’s Indigenous students. Through critical reflection of the literature, and sensitive engagement in discussion and collaborative tasks, teachers 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 Australian Curriculum.     

The aim of this unit is to develop intercultural understandings, to promote reconciliation and build capacity to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures; as well as being confident and competent in working sensitively and culturally appropriately with Indigenous Australian students.  

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 1.4, 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 1.4, 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 students, communities and knowledges. (GA1, GA4, GA7, GA8; APST 1.4, 2.4, 3.7, 4.1, 7.3, 7.4) 

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 Australian Curriculum (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.3, 1.4, 2.4, 3.5, 4.1, 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 

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 

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.


Topics will include:

  • Overview of diversities of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, languages, spirituality, beliefs and values, and concepts of kinship and culturally sensitive issues
  • An overview of the similarities and diversities of Indigenous and non-Indigenous traditional and contemporary knowledges and knowledge sources, ontologies, epistemologies, and pedagogies
  • The impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Theories and forms of racism, its impact on individuals, organisations, systems and nations including: white privilege; systemic racism and differing world views; and anti-racism strategies
  • Analysis of contemporary issues, including media portrayal, racism and stereotypical views and assumptions impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Past and present national and local jurisdictional educational policies, priorities, programs and practices, and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the Australian society, as compared to other relevant international policies.
  • Current and historical events that have impacted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their education.
  • Strategies to connect with communities and families to promote reconciliation and involve parents/carers in the educative process
  • Creating inclusive and culturally safe learning environments to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people highlighting culturally appropriate and relevant teaching strategies incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowings, being and doing.
  • Reliable resources for extending the understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and education

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In exceptional circumstances small cohort groups of participants exist studying in multi-modal programs, delivery may involve a combination of online and multi-mode delivery. Participants should expect to participate in a range of the following: online lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations and group discussions, self-directed study activities and assessment tasks. This combination ensures that participants can engage with critical literature pertinent to learning outcomes and explore and develop critical understanding by engaging in critical conversations with students to promote learning through a theory-to-practice approach that will be responsive and relevant to the diversity of participants’ current knowledge and ongoing contextual experiences with a key component being the reflexive link between theoretical knowledge and previous/subsequent professional experience placements. Online engagement with appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations or service deliverers will be required. Such opportunities will create authentic, contextually rich learning experiences for participants grounded in the communities in which they are teaching.  

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.  

Technology Enhanced Learning

This unit uses ‘Learning Environment Online’ (LEO) for the provision of lecture and tutorial content, required and/or further readings, and other unit materials. Recorded lectures and tutorials will be made available to students through LEO.  

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. (

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow teachers to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes. The assessments progress from demonstrating a broad understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, and languages, and these features on the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. As the teaching and learning of the unit progresses from more theoretical understandings and investigations towards application of this knowledge in an authentic context, participants are then assessed on the development of authentic classroom artefacts, drawn from their professional experience and actual teaching, to demonstrate the integration of this knowledge into practice. The choice of tasks provides a balance of assessment procedures that reflect the key learning processes that are critical to successful achievement of the unit learning outcomes. This includes critical analysis of contemporary issues (assessment 1), the development and commentary around planning documents that integrate unit learning outcomes (assessment 2), and the extensive use of critical reflection (assessment 3). The educational studies units in this course focus on developing understanding of, and skills across the professional knowledge, practice and engagement domains needed to meet the APST at Graduate level. This unit focuses extensively on two APSTs: 1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and 2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The three assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development. Through completing task one the teacher will have the opportunity to review and reflect upon the concepts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in society today. Through completing task two the teacher will develop research, communication and teamwork skills thus broadening their understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations. Task three will allow the teacher to deliver culturally appropriate curriculum utilising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pedagogical practices.

Minimum Achievement Standards

In order to pass this unit, teachers are required to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes by submitting all assessment tasks and obtaining a combined score of at least 50%.

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Turnitin will be used as a means for submitting, marking, and returning of assessment tasks. Assessment tasks will be returned within three weeks of submission.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Personal Reflection and Analysis

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; explain how it aligns with the Australian Curriculum and incorporates 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 can the activities be transferred into the school curriculum. 

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


LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, 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

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, 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.

Beresford, Q., Partington, G., & Gower, G. (Ed) 2012. Reform and resistance in Aboriginal education. The Australian experience (Revised Edition). Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing.  

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. Coogee, NSW: University of New South Wales Press.

Craven, R. (Ed.) (2020). Teaching Aboriginal studies: Practical resource for primary and secondary teaching (2nd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

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.  

Reynolds, H. (2018). This whispering in our hearts revisited. Sydney, NSW: University of NewSouth Publishing .


Online resources and policies                                                          

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

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