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  • Term Mode
  • ACU Term 4Online Unscheduled




HIST106 Australian Indigenous Peoples Past and Present

Unit rationale, description and aim

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have thrived and survived despite the harm inflicted during centuries of colonisation. This unit explores how they have contributed to Australian society and the contemporary issues facing Australian Indigenous communities which cannot be understood or resolved without appreciating their historical contexts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ histories, cultures, and perspectives are a cross-curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum and are important for preservice teachers.

The unit studies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, colonisation, and its 21st-century legacies. Themes include Australian Indigenous ways of knowing and telling histories, the nature and impact of colonialism (including geographical diversity and shifts over time), Australian Indigenous movements and issues, as well as the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the making of Australia. The unit emphasises human dignity and the common good, particularly the responsibility of acknowledging historical injustices.

The unit conveys a nationwide history driven by the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while also explaining the diversity of Indigenous Australians and the extent to which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had to navigate very different threats, challenges, and limitations in different parts of the nation over time

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge relating to histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in selected local settingsGC1, GC5
LO2Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audienceGC1, GC11, GC12
LO3Locate, use, and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary sources relevant to the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argumentGC1, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC12
LO4Apply critical reading skills to primary and secondary sources including sources authored by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoplesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC12
LO5Interpret and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over timeGC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC11


Topics will include:

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered online with significant emphasis on ensuring the including multiple Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives. It engages students in Active Learning through activities that facilitate the development of skills fundamental to the discipline of history and a deep understanding of course content. Developed as an ACU Online unit, content is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. They will have an opportunity to attend facilitated synchronous online sessions with peers. 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specific skills in reading and understanding primary sources; begin to understand the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate and incorporate secondary material into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to historical strategies for understanding how to interpret an extensive arc of history.

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.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In the History discipline, first-year units are designed to include a selection of the following assessment tasks to build skills around the discipline:

•          Primary source document analyses (maps, images, and documents)

•          Analytical reading challenges

•          synchronous and asynchronous debates

•          Library exercises

•          Research Essay/Challenges

•          Online discussion boards

•          Short answer responses

•          Short quizzes

The assessment for this unit embeds Indigenous perspectives, requiring students to engage with Indigenous-created historical accounts, sources and narratives. The assessments are scaffolded to require students to develop historical skills progressively, beginning with concrete practical skills. 

1.    The history skills exercise (Learning to use Primary and Secondary Sources) requires students to demonstrate developing competency in fundamental skills required to write history assignments.

2.   This will be followed by an analytical task requiring students to apply critical reading and analysis skills to connect historical knowledge with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community knowledge in relation to an Indigenous Australian-authored or created case study or prompt.

3.    Finally, students will complete a historical essay, demonstrating the skills and techniques developed in Assignments 1 and 2 in the form of a sustained piece of historical essay writing

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1: Learning to Use Primary and Secondary Sources

The purpose of this exercise is to introduce students to the skills that historians use to understand primary and secondary materials relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 


LO1, LO2, LO3GC1, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 2: Learning to Link the Past and the Present.

The function of this assessment is to develop skills in critical reading, the use of evidence and clear communication engaging with how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities present issues of cultural and social significance. 


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 3: Historical Essay

This essay provides a forum for students to apply knowledge and skills in the construction of an evidence-based historical narrative or argument.


LO2, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC11, GC12

Representative texts and references

Attwood, B. & Markus, A. (eds) (1999) The struggle for Aboriginal rights: a documentary history. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Broome, R. (2010) Aboriginal Australians: a history since 1788. 4th ed., Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Curthoys, A., Genovese, A., and Reilly, A. (2012) Rights and redemption: history, law and Indigenous people. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Grant, S. (2016) Talking to my Country. Sydney: HarperCollins.

Langton, M., & Corn, A. (2023). Law: The way of the Ancestors. Port Melbourne: Thames & Hudson Australia.

McGrath, A. (Ed.). (2020). Contested ground: Australian Aborigines under the British crown. 2nd ed., London & New York: Routledge.

McKenna, M. (2014). Looking for Blackfellas' Point: an Australian history of place. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Moreton-Robinson, A. (2015) The white possessive: property, power, and Indigenous sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Pearson, N. (2011) Up from the Mission: selected writings. Melbourne: Black Inc.

Perkins, R. and Langton, M. (eds.) (2010) First Australians: an illustrated history. Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press.

Price, K. (ed.) (2015) Knowledge of life: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press

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