Base Cultural Awareness
The evolution of the Base Cultural Awareness Program
Currently, UOW offers a host of Aboriginal based courses and subjects scattered through its University offerings. Many have been recognised as best practice in their respective fields. All are designed to lead to a deep cultural awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Such subjects and courses, offered in all Faculties, have strong cultural underpinnings and prepare students for disciplines in which graduates will be working with Aboriginal peoples. UOW’s Jindaola subjects also provide another layer of cultural awareness, with embedded Aboriginal knowledge’s and perspectives that are available for students to enrol in throughout their academic journeys.
Despite these offerings, many students can still complete courses and degrees at UOW without encountering any Aboriginal content. In addition, UOW staff have no formal requirement for any cultural awareness training as a condition of employment, although many staff and University units seek it out independently.
The implementation of the Base Cultural Awareness Program has been delayed due to the severe NSW bushfires and the COVID-19 virus. The Base Cultural Awareness Program is now expected to be implemented in 2021.
The Base Cultural Awareness Program
After extensive consultation, it was deemed necessary for UOW to include a base level of cultural awareness training for both staff and students. This training would be informed by the host of quality, culturally-based courses already in existence at a discipline level within UOW and would conclude with a short quiz. The purpose of the Base Cultural Awareness Program would be to act as an ice-breaker and taster for those entering the field in a non-threatening manner, as well as encourage students and staff to continue professional development in this area.
Four online cultural awareness courses were researched and trialled, and the most popular was the Share Our Pride online program designed by Reconciliation Australia. Following the completion of the module, respondents would then be required to complete a short quiz developed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Outreach) team in collaboration with Traditional Custodians. Through trialling, it was found that approximately 70% of learners wanted to seek out more cultural awareness. Thus, after cultural awareness training is completed, staff and students will be informed of all courses offered at UOW that involve a deeper level of cultural knowledge. In short, the UOW Base Cultural Awareness Program training ensures all students and staff have a base level of cultural understanding while hopefully igniting further interest in the longest living culture on earth.