In April 2009, Universities Australia, in collaboration with the IHEAC, obtained support and grant funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to undertake a two year project on Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities. The ultimate aim of the project was to provide the Australian higher education sector with a best practice framework comprising the theoretical and practical tools necessary to embed cultural competency at the institutional level to provide encouraging and supportive environments for Indigenous students and staff, as well as to embed in non-Indigenous graduates the knowledge and skills necessary for them to provide genuinely competent services to the Australian Indigenous community.
The Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities Project comprised three primary stages:
1. A stocktake of existing Indigenous cultural competency initiatives and programs in Australian universities to establish a clear baseline for Indigenous cultural competency activity.
2. Four pilot projects of different aspects of cultural competency which were identified through the stocktake process as gaps in current knowledge and practice.
3. The development of a National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency in Australian Universities, to be informed by the stocktake of Australian institutions, the pilot projects and international and national examples of best practice.
This report represents both the third of those stages and the culmination of the Project as a whole. Drawing heavily upon the results and findings of the first two stages of the Project, this report provides a sound theoretical and evidential underpinning for cultural competence within the higher education context. While the report can stand alone, it is intended to support the content of the companion document, Guiding Principles for Developing Cultural Competency in Australian Universities, which is intended to be a more practical tool for institutional use.