Cultural Inclusive Curriculum and Indigenous Australian Learning Spaces: Theory versus Practice

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The term ‘inclusive curriculum’ was used in the early 1980s in Australia in reference to designing a new learning approach which values knowledge and experiences that women gained prior to undertaking further education, but in the 1990’s its application went beyond gender issues to embrace knowledges of diverse cultures of all students in education. Cultural inclusive curriculum from an Indigenous Australian perspective reflects an Aboriginal world view and understanding of their culture and heritage in all aspects of the learning activities, and more recently an understanding of their needs for culturally appropriate learning spaces. Learning space or the notion of ‘space’ has been investigated by many researchers, but noticeably less so from an Indigenous Australian perspective. Creating a ‘learning space’ for Indigenous students in higher education must take into account the different meanings associated with such spaces, both from Western and Indigenous discourses and perspectives. Munn (2004) claims that space has a duality dimension –a field of action (frame for action) and a basis of action (e.g. learning). Further, Rodman (2004) asserts that space has locality and vocality, and that space is politicised, culturally relative, and historically specific. In other words, space has multiple constructions and therefore identities and its specificity is continuously reproduced (Massey, 1994). The interplay between cultural inclusive curriculum and its implementation in practice in particular with reference to learning spaces is an important measure of theory and its application is practice. This paper presents the findings of a case study highlighting current practices in the application of an Indigenous cultural inclusive curriculum and its significance in shaping Indigenous students learning and their learning outcomes in a culturally appropriate learning space.


Keywords: Indigenous Australians, Cultural Inclusive Curriculum, Indigenous Learning Spaces
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Sharon Gollan

Lecturer, David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, University of South Australia
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Sharon Gollan is an Aboriginal Australian born of the Ngarrindjeri nation of South Australia. Sharon has worked professionally and academically in a range of human services fields in Australia. She has over twenty years of experience in the public health, youth, children and community services sector in a range of community and management positions that primarily focused on creating better services for Aboriginal people. She is well known for her training workshops that assist human services workers to understand their cultural identity, cultural space and how to challenge and be aware of this within their practice. She also receives frequent requests to speak at conference and seminars on topics such as: power and institutional racism, providing services in a culturally competent manner, what “whiteness” means and its relationship to racism and human services practice. This work has taken her into both state and national levels.

Dr. Tangi Steen

Senior Lecturer, David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, University of South Australia
Adelaide, SA\outh Australia, Australia

Tangi Steen is a Polynesian woman from the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tangi has been a staff member of the University of South Australia since 1988, and have held a number of lecturing positions within the School of Aboriginal and Islander Administration, School of Mathematics, Faculty of Aboriginal and Islander Studies, and currently at the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research. Tangi’s academic interest lies in Information Technology (IT) education and its uses in learning and research. Her PhD research focuses on the problem solving strategies that students use when they encounter difficulties in IT. These strategies not only depend on students' level of IT competencies but also on a number of social and cultural factors which influence students learning of IT.

Malcolm Gollan

Primary School Teacher, Department for Education and Children Services, Kaurna Plains School
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Ref: L08P0253