Universities Australia Indigenous strategy first annual report

Higher education Indigenous education University students Australia

The Universities Australia (UA) Indigenous Strategy 2017-20 is a sector-wide initiative. It brings all member universities together to achieve common goals to advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and success in higher education.

The purpose of this report is to outline key initiatives by universities to improve Indigenous higher education participation and success and deepen relationships and knowledge in institutions.

Key Findings:

  • There has been positive progress in several areas, particularly in undergraduate participation growth in the last decade, more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, and greater collaboration between universities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and communities. However, there is still significant work to be done.
  • Survey responses demonstrated universities increasingly reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation, culture and research as key areas of focus in their strategic documents and business plans – in varying levels of measurability and detail. It is important that the university sector lead the way to implement and embed this engagement deeply throughout our operations and activities.
  • Around twothirds of universities have a Reconciliation Action Plan, which can be an effective way of embedding the numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategies into a united overarching model.
  • Survey responses indicated there is still a need for greater distinction between workload planning and cultural leave. The former requires mechanisms and processes that actively manage the additional workload required of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. One strategy to address this is a greater emphasis on the development of non-Indigenous staff to be capable of performing some culturallyappropriate activities.

This report does not seek to rank achievements nor function as a report card by institution. Rather, survey responses identified strategies being implemented and issues experienced across the sector to contextualise the current environment and enable universities to learn from each other’s strategies or approaches. The summaries extracted from survey responses and highlighted in this report are primarily for descriptive purposes of current or good practice – which is distinct from best practice. Given the breadth of work and initiatives underway, it does not set out to cover every single element of Indigenous higher education and research. 

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