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Staff Portal

Decolonising the curriculum

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this page contains content that may be culturally sensitive

Decolonising sits within Critical Pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching. This page is designed to introduce staff at Curtin to some of the basic approaches to Decolonising their curriculum and research in a broad sense. We hope the content below provides some direction for further research as it suits your own journey and discipline needs.

Glossary of Key Terms 

We start this page off with a Glossary of key terms to help with understanding common terminology within this space.

BrokerageThe importance of relationship – make this the foundation of all you do. Building relationships is important, taking the time to develop connections, meeting face to face, providing time.
Critical race theoryIs a social movement which theorises that the construct of ‘race’ is a culturally invented category used to oppress or exploit people and that ‘institutional racism’ reinforced by this cultural norm is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the land, facilitating and maintaining social, economic and political inequalities between ‘races’.
Cultural AwarenessA philosophical approach and way of operating which is sensitive to the unique cultural needs and differences of individuals and groups.
Cultural CompetencyDemonstrating awareness of the cultural difference that exist between groups and accepting these differences. Being aware of and questioning your own assumptions and behaviours.
Cultural SafetyCultural safety goes beyond cultural awareness and competence by ensuring shared meaning, shared knowledge and shared dignity. Cultural safety creates an environment where people are inherently safe and protected.
Decolonising Recognising and actively working against the structural Euro-centric basis of academic disciplines, research and curriculum. Interrogating and challenging the historical legacies of dominant, Western forms of knowledge and knowledge creation.
IndigenisingWorking towards and enacting the process of developing and delivering curricula that reflects the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and local indigenous knowledges. Transforming spaces, assessment practices, curriculum delivery and teaching so as to naturalise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander approaches to learning.
IntersectionalityRecognising the ways in which individual personal identities intersect to expose people to overlapping forms of discrimination and acknowledging the links to structural systems of power and privilege.
Third SpaceShared understanding where and when BOTH groups have made changes in their thinking and practices that then enable them to find solutions that are beneficial to all concerned.

The Journey

Decolonising curriculum and research takes time. It is a journey of increasing understanding and empathy which leads to action. Action is necessary; it is OK to start small, but over time, consider the unit/course review process as a chance to make larger change where appropriate.

The resources below may provide a starting point to help guide you on your journey. They include content from local, national and international research, with ideas that can apply to different learning, teaching and research contexts, highlighting the universal nature of decolonising.


Resources and PD opportunities

This collection of resources and further reading have been curated from recommendations from the Roadshow in early 2023, plus consultations with staff from Center for Aboriginal Studies (CAS), Center for Human Rights Education (CHRE) and the Cultural Capability team.

You can use the search tool to curtate what you see in this table by the keywords below, or just browse through the resources. Each resource is labelled with International, Australia or WA focus indicator.

Resource Theme: Type: Location:
  • Knowledge building
  • Methodologies
  • Activity
  • Student perspective
  • Professional Development (PD)
  • Strategy
  • Video
  • Events
  • International
  • Australia
  • WA
Methodologies, Australia8 Aboriginal Ways of LearningThis Aboriginal pedagogy framework is expressed as eight interconnected pedagogies involving narrative-driven learning, visualised learning processes, hands-on/reflective techniques, use of symbols/metaphors, land-based learning, indirect/synergistic logic, modelled/scaffolded genre mastery, and connectedness to community. But these can change in different settings.The 8 Ways framework is a NSW Department of Education initiative.
Grounded in PhD work by Tyson Yunkaporta
8 Ways website

Yunkaporta, T. (2009). Aboriginal pedagogies at the cultural interface. PhD. Thesis James Cook University.

Knowledge building, WAAboriginal collectionsPortal to the Libraries collections of: Storylines; Indigenous oral history; Music, stories and more.Curated by State library of Western AustraliaState Library WA
AustraliaAIATSIS Map of Indigenous AustraliaThis map shows the Language groups, Tribes and Nations present on this islands pre-colonisation this island was made up of many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia groups, different and distinct, each with their own culture, customs, language and laws.The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)AIATSIS
Knowledge building, AustraliaAustralian Human Rights CommissionA culturally safe and secure environment is one where our people feel safe
and draw strength in their identity, culture and community.
Australian Human Rights CommissionSocial Justice Report: Ch 4
Knowledge building, Australia, InternationalCultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector: Dilemmas, Policies and PracticeBring together specialists and individuals interested in cultural competence, diversity and inclusion and Indigenous Knowledges to discuss ideas relating to the future of higher education and the role of Universities in preparing students, faculties and staff for the challenges of building a more culturally competent world.Jack Frawley, Gabrielle Russell,
Juanita Sherwood,
Professional Development (PD), WADandjoo Kaadadjiny (Learning together)We’ll explore some principles of Aboriginal culture, local knowledge that you can see around you, plus some Indigenous heroes both in history and active today. Write your own Acknowledgement of Country. CASChallenge platform
Methodologies, WADebakarn Koorliny Wangkiny: steady walking and talking using first nations-led participatory action research methodologies to build relationshipsOur article begins with an overview of the APAR literature and pays homage to the decolonising scholarship that champions Aboriginal ways of knowing, being, and doing. Michael Wright,Tiana Culbong,Michelle Webb,Amanda Sibosado,Tanya Jones,Tilsa Guima Chinen & Margaret O'Connell
Methodologies, InternationalDecolonial Methodologies in Education. This resource encompasses a series of methods/strategies as they take place within education projects. Here, education is defined broadly to include both formal and nonformal educational spaces. Education is not used loosely as decolonial scholars have conflated the terms educational...Zavala, M. SpringerLink
Methodologies, InternationalDecolonising Higher Education in the Era of Globalisation and Internationalisation. This collection of essays brings to the on-going discourse on decolonisation fresh, rich, probing and multilayered perspectives that should accelerate the process of decolonisation, not only in higher education in Africa, but also in the global imaginary.Fomunyam, K. G.Curtin Library
Knowledge building, Student perspective, Video, AustraliaDecolonising higher education: First Nations student perspectives in AustraliaFirst Nations students at RMIT shared their perspectives on how universities can promote inclusion and Indigenous perspectives at the recent UNESCO World Higher Education Conference in Barcelona, Spain.RMIT UniversityRMIT
Methodologies, Australia and New ZealandDecolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous PeoplesThis essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes of truth.' Concepts such as 'discovery' and 'claiming' are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.Linda Tuhiwai
Methodologies, InternationalDecolonising Nature: contemporary art and the politics of ecologyThis text offers a significant, original contribution to the intersecting fields of art history, ecology, visual culture, geography, and environmental politics.
Art historian T.J. Demos, author of Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (2013), considers the creative proposals of artists and activists for ways of life that bring together ecological sustainability, climate justice, and radical democracy, at a time when such creative proposals are urgently needed.
Demos, T. J. Curtin Library
Activity, Knowledge building, InternationalDecolonising SOAS Learning and Teaching Toolkit
for Programme and Module Convenors
The SOAS toolkit supports the decolonising process through questioning ‘… how to overcome the intellectual limits and structural disadvantages embedded in current curricula and pedagogies., Pg. 6. Includes practical examples and applications.School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of LondonSOAS-Learning-and-Teaching-Toolkit-AB.pdf
Knowledge building, Video, InternationalDecolonising the Curriculum through the History of MathematicsAs part of Black History Month, June Barrow-Green and Brigitte Stenhouse gave a presentation in which they explored how historical sources can be used to decolonise the mathematics curriculum.June Barrow-Green and Brigitte
Knowledge building, InternationalFrom inclusion to transformation to decolonisationreflects on the endeavour of decolonising the curriculum, and how the process begins with developing reflexive, inclusive, and transformative pedagogical practices.Professor Rowena Arshad and Pushpi Bagchi
Methodologies, Video, AustraliaHolistic approach to Indigenous studiesThis teaching and learning framework, which acknowledges Indigenous peoples’ holistic view of their world, including the interrelatedness of land, language and culture, and how this can be embedded in curriculum and pedagogy.Jirrbal Elder, Uncle Ernie Grant

Video: Uncle Ernie Grant shares how to acknowledge Indigenous holistic views of the world

The Holistic Planning and Teaching Framework
Event, WAIndian Ocean Craft TriennialThe 2024 evet theme of 'Codes in Parallel' presenting a broad diversity of craft practices by Western Australian-based and Indian Ocean artists at other major institutions, artist-run collectives, regional galleries, local government arts facilities, and in craft-specific workshops and studios.Exhibition partners Fremantle Arts Centre and John Curtin GalleryIndian Ocean Craft Triennial
Professional Development (PD), Knowledge building, WA,Indigenous Cultural Capabilities Framework (ICCF)Three phases of Cultural Immersion Experiences designed to help develop an in-depth understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices, knowledge and history. All experiences are available for staff to enrol into through iPerform.Curtin Cultural Capability teamCultural Immersion Experiences
Regulation, AustraliaIndigenous Strategy 2022-25The 2022-25 Indigenous Strategy builds upon its predecessor, shifting gears from aspiration to implementation.Universities AustraliaUA-Indigenous-Strategy-2022-25.pdf
Video, AustraliaInspirational Indigenous Australian TedX talksThis is a list from 2016, of all the Indigenous mob we could find who have TEDx videos online. If we have missed anyone please let us know and we will update it.By Luke Pearson on the IndigenousX websiteInspirational Indigenous Australian TedX talks
Professional Development (PD), WAIntro to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People & CultureThis module is an introductory pathway to the University's learning and teaching space. includes suggestions as to where staff can access information for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge into curriculum.Curtin UniiPerform
Professional Development (PD), Video, WANoongar Language and CultureLearn about the Noongar people of Western Australia, their culture and their language.Curtin EdX MOOC

Video: Noongar Language and Culture

Knowledge building, WANulungu Research InstituteNulungu Research Institute is a Kimberley-based organisation of collaborating Aboriginal and non-Indigenous researchers, each with extensive practical and theoretical knowledge.University of Notre DameNulungu institute
Nulungu newsletter
Knowledge building, AustraliaPractice what you preach : creating partnerships and decolonising the social work curriculumThis article is a critical reflection on the work of two non-Indigenous social work educators and our attempts to decolonise our teaching practice at Western Sydney University (WSU).Al-Natour, R. J., & Mears, J.Curtin Library
Activities, Knowledge building, AustraliaResources: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledgeThe QCAA has developed a range of materials to support the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the school curriculum.QCAA (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority)QCAA resources
Knowledge building, Video, International Rise DocumentaryViewers are taken to the frontlines of global indigenous resistance and introduced to the people intent on resisting colonisation and protecting their homelands.VICE networkRise | SBS
Knowledge building, Video, AustraliaStorying the future: First Nations and education in decolonising AustraliaNulungu’s vision is ‘to conduct exceptional and collaborative research which is transformative, decolonising and of value to Aboriginal people’.Professor Tracey Bunda, Associate Professor Nikki Moode, Dr Eddie Cubillo, Mr Zack HaddockUniMelb Law School

Psychology, Strategy, WA
Australian Indigenous
Psychology Education Project (AIPEP)
Develop frameworks, guidelines, and strategies to increase the capability of psychology graduates
to work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Collaborative learning and teaching project led by
Professor Pat Dudgeon of the University of Western Australia.
Methodologies, Video, WASYNERGIES: Walking Together - Belonging to CountryThis film celebrates the remarkable similarities between Nyungar knowledge and Western science. It takes the audience through a 300 million year journey, featuring Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup and Professor Stephen D. Hopper, as they walk the magnificent Swan River from its source to the ocean...Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup and Professor Stephen D. Hopper, Film by Glen StasiukVideo: SYNERGIES: Walking Together - Belonging to Country



Feedback or ideas

If you have a suggestion for a key term, resource or element we should add to this introductory site, please let us know via