The Indigenous Cultural Competency for Legal Academics Program (ICCLAP) aims to increase the inclusion of Indigenous cultural competency in legal education. This will improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student outcomes in law as well as developing Indigenous cultural competency in all students. This will lead to better legal service delivery for Indigenous communities in the long term.
ICCLAP is a cross institutional project involving five universities including the University of New England, University of Technology (Sydney), RMIT University, Australian National University, and Queensland University of Technology. The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.
Universities Australia (UA) have renewed its’ commitment to support Indigenous student success with the recent launch of its Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020, developed in consultation with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC).
Universities Australia have acknowledged that universities have “underperformed” with regard to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2015 there were 15,585 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (1.6% of all students) enrolled in Australian universities. Although this represents a growth in numbers of 70% since 2008, Indigenous people are still under represented in higher education. Retention and completion rates are also much lower. While 73.9% of all students complete a degree after 9 years only 43.7% of Indigenous students complete their courses in the same time.
The main objective of the strategy is to increase Indigenous participation and completion rates to that of the general student population by 2025 and 2028 respectively. This requires more Indigenous students and graduates to commence and successfully complete university courses throughout Australia. To achieve this Universities Australia have proposed a range of actions which include:
Apart from increasing Indigenous students numbers the strategy aims is to increase the overall knowledge of Indigenous culture and peoples (cultural competency) through both staff training and ensuring that all students engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural content as integral parts of their course of study. The other emphasis is providing meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through direct partnerships and increasing and improving research work.
The objectives of the ICCLAP project are closely aligned to these goals, and we look forward to working with law schools to improve Indigenous content in curriculum and also build the cultural competency of staff and students.
Universities Australia’s Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 can be downloaded from https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/ArticleDocuments/212/FINAL%20Indigenous%20Strategy.pdf.aspx
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Department for Education and Training. The views in this project do not necessary reflect the views of the Australian Government Department for Education and Training.
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