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KNL3001 Indigenous Australian Cultures and Communities

Semester 1, 2011 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : Centre for Australian Indigenous Knowledges
Version produced : 8 March 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Bill McCann
Moderator: John Williams-Mozley


Understanding Indigenous Australian social issues involves understanding of the cultures of Australia's Indigenous societies and their relationship with the wider Australian community. Australia has two separate peoples who can claim Indigenous status. Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander Australian groups are composed of disparate socio-cultural entities. All Australians should have an understanding and appreciation of Indigenous Australian cultures and societies because their uniqueness and complexity provides an opportunity for the development and consolidation of an understanding and appreciation of all peoples, their cultures and societies. Through a study of Indigenous Australian cultures and societies, attitudes can be challenged and a foundation set to address issues of cultural arrogance (i.e. belief in the superiority of one's own culture), ethnocentrism and ignorance facilitating progression towards mutual understanding and respect for others' cultures and societies. To achieve a balanced approach in interacting with Indigenous groups and individuals, this course investigates aspects of Indigenous cultures and societies.


The central core of the course is the presentation of Indigenous Australian perspectives and viewpoints to correct the imbalance in knowledge and understanding of Australia's history which has predominated since invasion. Consideration is given to the concepts of culture, society and group and individual identity. The course investigates aspects of Indigenous Australian cultures including, kinship, languages and land affiliation. The emphasis is placed on having an understanding and appreciation of Indigenous Australian attitudes. The content and structure of this course will emphasize the need for a sound theoretical and philosophical understanding of cultural interaction and difference in community and relationship connections, confronting stereotypes that have been constructed around Australia's Indigenous populations, and reconstructing those images on a basis of knowledge and understanding of, and empathy towards, those people who are the original inhabitants of this country. Throughout the course, four major constructs will be explored: (i) contested views of historic and contemporary Indigenous Australian cultures, societies and identities; (ii) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary social, political and economic situations; (iii) policies and practices in relation to social issues for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander peoples; (iv) identifying strategies for reducing social disadvantage


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an appreciation of Australia's inclusive history, and of past and contemporary policies and practices relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (Assessment 1, 3)
  2. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, cultures and societies (Assessment 1, 3)
  3. demonstrate awareness and appreciation of the socio-cultural, political and economic position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in contemporary society (Assessment 1, 3)
  4. demonstrate respect for and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lifestyles and attitudes (Assessment 1, 3)
  5. identify avenues to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's access and participation in society at all levels, without denying their heritage (Assessment 2, 3)
  6. identify strategies for advancing the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (e.g. knowledge providers, health workers) in community situations (Assessment 1, 2, 3)
  7. demonstrate academic and professional literacy required for disciplinary/professional practice: e.g. information literacy, technical or computer literacy, numeracy, language literacy and critical literacy (application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation). (Assessment 1, 2 & 3)
  8. demonstrate capacity for written and oral communication graduates are required to use as
    part of their professional practice, including appropriate distance communication that is mediated by different technologies. (Assessment 1, 2 & 3)
  9. develop cultural literacy in local, national & international contexts demonstrating the capacity to work with diverse groups, cultures and individuals and to value diversity. (Assessment 2, 3)


Description Weighting(%)
1. Race, Culture, Identity - Race as a construct; Culture as a meaningful concept; Indigenous Australian identity and Australian identity society 15.00
2. Australian History - Whose history? A brief, inclusive Australian history; Dispelling the myths; The role of Indigenous Australians in the pre- and post- colonial eras, 25.00
3. Indigenous Australian Cultures - The diversity of cultures among both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; Traditional and contemporary Indigenous societies and cultures 20.00
4. Indigenous Australians Today - The diverse situations of Indigenous Australians in contemporary Australia; Responding to continuing impacts of colonisation; Understanding and coping with cultural difference and disadvantage 20.00
5. Indigenous Australian Communities And Future Trends - looking at advancing the position of Indigenous Australians in all areas of Australian society 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Attwood, B 2005, Telling the truth about Aboriginal history, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
  • Austin, J (ed) 2005, Culture and identity, 2nd edn, Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.
  • Beckett, J (ed) 1988, Past and present: the construction of Aboriginality, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
  • Beckett, J 1987, Torres Strait Islanders - custom and colonialism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Behrendt, L 2003, Achieving social justice, Federation Press, Annandale.
  • Berndt, RM & Berndt, CH 1999, The world of the first Australians; Aboriginal traditional life: past and present, Rev, 5th edn, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
  • Broome, R 2001, Aboriginal Australians: black responses to white dominance, 1788-2001, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.
  • Commonwealth of Australia 2005, National report to parliament on Indigenous education and training, 2003, Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra.
  • Cowlishaw, G 2004, Blackfellas, whitefellas and the hidden injuries of race, Blackwell, Malden, MA.
    (available online via the World Wide Web
  • Gordon, M 2001, Reconciliation: a journey, UNSW Press, Sydney.
  • Haebich, A 2000, Broken circle: fragmenting Indigenous families 1800-2000, Fremantle Arts Press Centre, Fremantle, WA.
  • Neill, R 2002, White out: how politics is killing black Australia, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
  • Phillips, J & Lampert, J 2005, Introductory Indigenous studies in education: the importance of knowing, Pearson Prentice Hall, Frenchs Forest, NSW.
  • Reynolds, H 2000, Black pioneers, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic.
  • Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2005, Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: key indicators 2005 /overcoming Indigenous disadvantage 2005, The Steering Committee, Melbourne.
    (Also available online via the World Wide Web

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 60.00
Directed Study 40.00
Private Study 65.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
APPRAISAL ESSAY 30 30 01 Apr 2011 (see note 1)
REPORT ON GROUP/ORG 40 40 13 May 2011 (see note 2)
REFLECTIVE ESSAY 30 30 10 Jun 2011 (see note 3)

  1. Appraisal of Indigenous cultural groups or organisations (1250 words)
  2. Report on Indigenous cultural groups or organisations (2000 words)
  3. Evaluation of Contemporary Indigenous Australia (1250 words)

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximize their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete the required assessment items satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for all assessment items.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students must negotiate with the course examiner for extensions to the due date of their assignments. If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day up to 10 days late.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must attain at least 50% of the available weighted marks for the summative assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt of request being made by the examiner. The student must retain this copy until the grade for this course has been finalised.

  3. In accordance with the University's assignment extension policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. The Faculty will normally only accept assessments that have been written, typed or printed on paper-based media. Students who do not have regular access to postal services or who are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate special arrangements.

  5. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next working day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of any local public holiday for the examiner's convenience.

  6. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study.

  7. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. The following temporary grades may be awarded - IDM (Incomplete - Deferred Make-up)

  8. When there is more than one marker for a single item of assessment, the distributed patterns and means for the different markers will be compared and marks adjusted if necessary.

  9. Marking criteria are provided in course material as mark sheets/guides or as part of assignment specifications.

  10. All summative assessment items must be submitted. To be assured of receiving a passing grade, students must achieve at least 50% in each assessment piece and at least 50% of the available weighted marks for the summative assessment items.

  11. Summative assessment items will receive a numerical score. Any ungraded assessment requirement will receive a Pass, Fail or Incomplete.