Indigenous opportunity becomes core business at UTS

In summary: 
  • UTS's new Indigenous Education and Employment Policy commits UTS to a whole-of-university approach to Indigenous employment and education
  • The nation-leading policy will mandate jobs for Indigenous people and boost the number of Indigenous students entering higher education

A new, nation-leading policy which will mandate jobs for Indigenous people and boost the number of Indigenous students entering higher education has been launched this week by UTS.

For the first time, the new Indigenous Education and Employment Policy (IEEP) will embed Indigenous strategy as core business for UTS and not on the periphery.

The development of the policy has been led by Professor Michael McDaniel, who brings more than 20 years' experience in Indigenous education to his role as Director of UTS's Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning.

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne said that while previous policies have reflected UTS's commitment to reconciliation and equity, IEEP aligns UTS with national Indigenous higher education objectives.

"With our new policy UTS hopes to be ahead of the curve nationally in committing to a whole-of-university approach to Indigenous employment and education," Professor Milbourne said.

"We know we need to lift our numbers to have real representation across the whole of the university and we have backed our commitment to this policy with significant resources and strategic support.

"To help us deliver on our commitment, I have directed each faculty and division to nominate at least one vacancy per year that should be targeted to be filled by an Indigenous Australian. Very importantly, these are to be mainstream positions – not 'Indigenous specific' positions.

"This is on top of a commitment to providing opportunities for UTS Indigenous students to consider cadetships, internships and traineeships as part of their studies, with a view to ongoing employment at UTS."

Professor Michael McDaniel and Federal Minister for Human Services and Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek. Picture by Carmen Lee, Encapture

Professor McDaniel said the policy was built on the idea that Indigenous development should hold a status within the university similar to research, teaching and learning, and internationalisation.

"The higher education sector has long shown leadership in changing the perception and reality of the place of Indigenous people in Australian society, but now it is time to take these efforts beyond the confines of university Indigenous and equity units," Professor McDaniel said.

"There's often a misunderstanding that Indigenous education is just for Indigenous people, where in fact it is relevant to every student at university. That's certainly how we should be thinking about it... it's about nation building."

IEEP also includes the development of Indigenous specific subjects and content (both as core and elective subjects) and embeds acts of Indigenous recognition and partnership into the public and ceremonial life of UTS.

The policy was launched on 25 October in the UTS Chancellery with a keynote address by the Federal Minister for Human Services and Social Inclusion, and UTS graduate, Tanya Plibersek.

Also announced was a new agreement through the NSW Government's Koori Job Ready program for the creation of a significant number of jobs, training and education opportunities for Indigenous people as part of the UTS $1 billion masterplan construction.

Very interesting that UTS did not mentioned their commitment to the Block programs that have been operating out of the Business and Education Faculties, Is it because that there is no commitment on their part, these block programs have given remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities an opportunity to engage in higher education to gain skills that are taken back to communities. What now? Where is the commitment ? Why aren't they speaking about the axing of these programs and the treatment of the staff who have tried to keep these programs viable. Who's agenda is being met, its not the communities !!!!

Veronica, I am with you there sista. I am a current Block student and am shocked, appalled and 'pissed off'. Exactly right where is the committment to us mob that cant study mainstream for various reasons. Who makes these decision??? Aboriginal Higher Education aren't we trying to achieve this. Well, by axing these Block Programs where's the committment to the Aboriginal Education Policy. I believe Block Programs have a good sucess rate with our Graduates having better employment opportunities. I study with approximately 100 other koori, murri, noogah and islander students who without these programs wouldn't be able to get their degree!!! I wonder who will be the one to inform all us students next week. Will it be a Blackfella or a whitefella. What a disgrace. This wont happen quitely, I can hear the noise starting. PEACE, MONIKA HEISS

I agree Monika. While there was no mention of the block programs it is not hard to read into McDaniels agenda. I would like to see Michael McDaniel and he’s co-horts explain to the block students at UTS what he means by “mainstreaming” Aboriginal education and employment at UTS. It reeks of “assimilation”. Chris Sarra talks about having pride in being the ‘other’ as long as we define what the ‘other’ is. McDaniel’s comments portray a sense of shame in the University blocks programs as being different, he has targeted the block students and the staff relegating them to the position of “poor cousins” to the class of student that he hopes ‘mainstreaming’ Indigenous Education will bring to the University. There is a place for block programs and many of the past students will attest to the success of such programs and in particular to the dedication that support staff and the knowledge and expertise that a select few academics have brought to the programs. That is academics that are not out to make a name for themselves.

Interesting that they chose to launch the policy at this time, why didn’t they wait til next week so the block students could be present? Can’t invite the cousins????

I would like to add to what Veronica and Monica were saying about the students that don't have the opportunities to enrol in such a course as the BA for Adult Ed and Community Management.

There are a lot of brothers and sisters out there who are currently studying in higher education courses but how many of them have grown in confidence since starting their course.

This course assists in our confidence building and extracates us from our difficult situations that we deal with in our everyday lives.

I must say, if it wasn't for this course I would not be working where I am today. I have the staff of the block program to thank for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of a 12 year program that has succeeded many brothers and sisters to go on and become professional people in their own right.

I am appalled that the program is being discontinued. Curerent students will finish and no other intake will be done after this year.

How can Indigenous brothers and sister be a part of a main stream course if they don't have the education levels required for study.

Who will the university target to be their students?

Tony Scholes

GOOD NEWS MY FRIENDS. After 2 meetings with the course co-odrdinator and Chris Bajada from the Faculty of Business, the current Block students were given a firm committment that the Block Programs for The BA in Adult Ed and Community Management course have not been AXED, although there is no intake for 2012 we were also assured that the course will be up and running again in 2013. During 2012 the course will be reviewed in the hopes of making improvements and changes to accomomodate both the university but first and foremost Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.This will be a very important twelve months to iron out the creases and put in place the things necessary to improve the quality of learning and education for our people. So, for those of you who like me, were concerned and angry about losing our Block Programs we were uninformed of these changes rather than misformed I guess. A committment was made that the outcomes of this review will lead to real changes for the betterment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Block Programs in Business will be better than ever...Unfortunately, I have no information about the BA in Education.
In Unity Always
Monika Heiss

Hi again, I also failed to mention that all current students will not be affected by this review but actually asked for recommendations on how to improve the current Block Program and also what we found to be positive was also important in our dicussions. We have been offered extra support to assist completing our degrees. And, YES!!! Finally a studyroom at the Markets Campus. Wow!!!!!!!!!!


I support the below concerns I am a masters student that did the undergrade Indigenous program. If it wasn't for the Indigenous program I may not have been able to achieve doing a masters. I come from a back ground living in country towns obtaining an education was very limited. We need to keep our Indigenous staff in Identified positions because its these positions that identifies who our contact people and courses are. it is an historically factor that aboriginal programs and policies get lost in the system because of mainstreaming Bring back our programs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for follow up clarifications that have been posted. My comments below provide some further clarification. The Business School has a long history and on-going commitment to away-from-base (block) mode as an important access pathway into university for Indigenous people. The intended review is to assess issues of relevance, demand, sustainability, quality and student experience regarding the existing program and to explore the potential for a new course - for which the exact commencement date is to be determined. The reviewing or replacement of courses is a normal part of university quality assurance processes. It is only appropriate that the same quality assurance processes are applied to our Indigenous away from base programs. Having said that, I wish to emphasise that there is a strong commitment to indigenous education at UTS and the Business School as well as an ongoing commitment to students enrolled in our present programs.

Any enquiries on the Bachelor of Arts in Adult Education and Community Management can be directed to my office on 9514 3267

Chris Bajada
Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning)
UTS Business School

I too would like to thank the students who have posted clarifications here. As with the UTS School of Business, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) has a long and proud history of delivering Away from Base programs to Indigenous students. In light of some of the concerns noted above, I would like to explain the faculty’s plans for reviewing and renewing Indigenous Education.

FASS recently made the decision to phase out its current undergraduate Adult Education and Organisational Learning courses. This was because of a diminishing of demand over the last ten years. As well, significant changes in the adult learning sector indicated to us that new approaches are required if UTS is to stay relevant in those important areas and best serve the needs of our students. FASS is now exploring new postgraduate courses in those disciplines. The current undergraduate Away from Base offerings sit within Adult Education, and therefore they are affected by the faculty’s decision. FASS will fund additional resources to ensure that all current Indigenous students successfully complete their studies before the undergraduate degree is phased out. No postgraduate courses are affected, but we want to review and improve on those courses so as to better meet the changing needs of Indigenous students an communities.

In the next twelve months we will be consulting and liaising with Indigenous students and communities to develop a number of undergraduate and postgraduate pathways that are more relevant to their needs. We also want to assess the recommendations of the Federal Government’s Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students (due to be completed in March 2012). We will be working closely with the School of Business in this period of review and renewal as well, as cross-faculty collaboration on Indigenous education is important to both areas of UTS.

FASS has recently appointed a Professor in Indigenous Education, Professor Juanita Sherwood. With her advice and guidance, the faculty is looking at a number of options for expanding its offerings in Indigenous education. We anticipate they will include new postgraduate options, and options at UG level to enable Indigenous students, who have experienced challenges or gaps in their studies, to complete their degrees. These may include short courses conceived in line with an Away from Base model. We are also aiming to increase Indigenisation of the curriculum for all FASS students, and are discussing possible Indigenous offerings in the international studies area.

The faculty is committed to reviewing and improving teaching and learning options that best serve the interests of Indigenous students in the future. My colleagues in the area and I look forward to working with and hearing the views of our Indigenous students in this important period of renewal.

Paul Allatson, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, FASS.