The results are in for the Oscars of higher education.
Last night as part of the Australian Awards for University Teaching, three UTS academics – Professor Susan Page, Professor Michelle Trudgett and Associate Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews – took out the prestigious Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education. The award is one of 13 categories awarded as part of this national scheme recognising teaching excellence in higher education.
The team were honoured for their work in setting up and leading The Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges (CAIK), an Indigenous academic expertise centre in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Established in 2015 to, as Professor Page explains, “Indigenise the academy.”
A key focus for the team in CAIK has been the rather sizeable task of leading the university-wide Indigenous Graduate Attributes program, a project committed to ensuring that all UTS graduates develop Indigenous professional capability.
Diversity learning can help students foster skills such as critical thinking and ultimately graduates should be better able to contribute to a national goal of equity for Indigenous Australians in their professional roles.
Michael McDaniel, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership and Engagement, says that since its creation, CAIK has done remarkable work.
“Not only in relation to its broader research relating to Indigenous education and the significant number of research students it has attracted, but also its leadership of the UTS Indigenous Graduate Attributes program.
“Many Australian universities have committed to the inclusion of Indigenous content in their curriculum, however, at UTS we have taken a specific approach in doing this via an Indigenous Graduate Attributes program – requiring all UTS students to have a professional capacity to work with and for Indigenous Australians.”
The team is also credited with the introduction of Aboriginal Sydney Now, an elective available to all UTS students that aims to foster students' curiosity about Indigenous ways of knowing and being in Sydney today.
“The hundreds of students who have completed [this subject] now have a better understanding of Sydney as a contemporary Aboriginal place, not completely overwritten by the city, but vibrant and evident when you know where (and how) to look,” reflects Professor Page.
For our students, Professor Page explains, diversity learning can help foster skills such as critical thinking and ultimately graduates should be better able to contribute to a national goal of equity for Indigenous Australians in their professional roles.
Learn more about the team’s work
Professor Susan Page will deliver a keynote address entitled ‘To know or not to know: Challenges for Indigenous Studies teachers and learners’ at the upcoming Vice-Chancellor's Learning and Teaching Award Ceremony on Monday 25 March.
Building on the strong foundations of CAIK in relation to the Indigenous Graduate Attributes program, the university along with the support of CAIK, has placed leadership of that project in the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership and Engagement.
Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education
The award is named for Neville Bonner AO (1922-1999), the first Indigenous Australian in Federal Parliament, representing Queensland as a Liberal Party Senator from 1971 to 1983. UTS academics to have won this award in the past include: Associate Professor in Social and Political Sciences Heidi Norman, awarded in 2016, and Professor Larissa Behrendt, joint recipient of the inaugural Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education in 2002.