© 2017 ICCLAP

ICCLAP Law School Survey

One of the key objectives of the ICCLAP project is to promote the incorporation of Indigenous cultural competency (ICC) in legal education. In order to establish a baseline by which to measure the impact of the project, a desktop survey of law schools was conducted in 2016. However the Project Team found that the relevant information was not always publicly available and therefore it was not possible to determine the extent to which ICC had been included in law curricula. Therefore the Project Team resolved to undertake a survey of law schools in 2017, to fills the gaps in our existing knowledge. The survey was distributed to law schools through members of the Council of Australian Law Deans.

The survey had a high response rate with 20 out of 39 of law schools completing the online survey form. Law schools were asked to report on the inclusion of ICC in core and elective units, institutional support for embedding ICC and the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students in their school. The key findings of the survey were:

  • The majority of law schools reported that their university and school supports the inclusion of ICC in curriculum.
  • Currently only two law schools include ICC in their graduate outcomes, and six law schools include ICC as a course learning outcome.
  • ICC is included in core units at ten law schools.
  • ICC is included in elective units at thirteen law schools in a broad range of subject areas.
  • Fourteen law schools indicated that they have access to support for embedding ICC in curricula, which primarily takes the form of Indigenous expertise, followed by financial support and staff training.
  • There are 233 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander under-graduate students, and 25 post-graduate students in law across ten of the law schools completing the survey (noting that some schools did not provide any data).
  • There are eleven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics employed at nine of the law schools completing the survey.

These results are encouraging because they show that a significant proportion of law schools are already including ICC in their curriculum in both core and elective units. Where ICC is included in core units, it is most commonly taught in property law, criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, and foundational law units. ICC is also included in a broad range of elective units from human rights and international law to native title and family law (see report for further details). It is also interesting to note that ICC is being included in a number of programs even though ICC is not a specific graduate or course learning outcome.

While the survey findings cannot be viewed as representative of the inclusion of ICC in law schools as a whole, it tells us what is actually happening at the law schools which responded to the survey. Importantly these findings also show that there is a plenty of scope to increase the coverage of ICC in curriculum at many law schools. With some 26 participating in our Indigenous Cultural Competency in Law Workshop, we are confident that there is keen interest from law schools to take up the challenge: work that the ICCLAP aims to support.

Report download ICCLAPLawSchoolSurveyReportOctober2017V2.pdf.

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land and waters. We pay our respects to elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge that these have always been places of knowledge, teaching and learning.


School of Law, University of New England

Marcelle Burns, Project Leader (02) 6773-2686

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Funding Acknowledgement

Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Department for Education and Training. The views expressed by this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Department for Education and Training.