Cultural Competence – Aboriginal Sydney

13 March 2017

A new online course from the University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence uses Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney to explore the key themes and capabilities of cultural competence.

A photo of an Aboriginal flag with the Harbour Bridge in the background.

‘Cultural Competence – Aboriginal Sydney’, a new massive open online course (MOOC), brings together artists, linguists, community leaders and activists from Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to share their diverse experiences and to offer a deeper understanding of Aboriginal peoples, cultures, histories and places in and around the territorial boundaries of the Eora Nation.

Developed by the National Centre for Cultural Competence’s Academic Director Professor Juanita Sherwood, Academic Leader Dr Gabrielle Russell-Mundine and Project Officer Michael Johnston, the course will provide students with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal Sydney while supporting the development of cultural competence capabilities they can employ in other contexts.

Comprised of six modules, the MOOC is now available online for anyone to enroll in.

“This course is very much about learning from Aboriginal perspectives. In each video we hear from people who share diverse worldviews, experiences and perceptions of Sydney,” explained Dr Russell-Mundine.

Watch the Cultural Competence - Aboriginal Sydney trailer.

“Each week a different theme is addressed that draws on aspects of Sydney from Aboriginal perspectives. The videos feature University of Sydney academics, such as Professor Jakelin Troy, who is Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research, and Matt Poll, who is Assistant Curator of Indigenous Heritage at the Macleay Museum,” said Dr Russell-Mundine.

“We also hear from a wide range of community members such as activists, artists, entrepreneurs and language experts. Importantly we hear from Elders as well as young people.”

The MOOC will appeal to people who are interested in Aboriginal cultures, sociology, history, anthropology, linguistics, political philosophy, cultural competence or just want to know more about Sydney. It will also appeal to people who want to learn more about themselves and their culture and context.

“Woven into the course are reflection and discussion points for people to apply what they are learning to their own context which gives the course both local and international appeal."

By understanding why Aboriginal narratives and experiences in Sydney are often invisible, participants can question why some narratives in their own context are privileged over others.
Dr Gabrielle Russell-Mundine, National Centre for Cultural Competence

As a rich exploration of Sydney from perspectives that are often silenced or not visible to many, the MOOC shows how people explore and claim their diverse identities and ways of knowing, being and doing.

“We hear how colonial experiences of one generation continue to affect the following generations. We also explore how history is embedded in places and how those places can be a catalyst for immense social and political change,” said Dr Russell-Mundine.

A photo of people recording video on Sydney Harbour.

Filming on Sydney Harbour.

“We were privileged to be shown sites that are right in the middle of the city, but are thousands of years old and show us how people occupied the place before invasion.”

“Professor Jakelin Troy takes us back to the early interactions between the British and the local people and how Sydney was always a multicultural place. But this course isn’t just about the past; we also learn about places of significance such as Redfern, which Deputy Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston describes as the contemporary heart of Aboriginal political consciousness,” said Dr Russell-Mundine.

“The highlights of the MOOC for me are the stories that people generously share of their lives and experiences. Activist and educator Jack Beetson, for example, talks about some of the political movements he has been involved in and how activism has changed in his lifetime. Art curator Djon Mundine talks about how people embody culture and its connection to landscapes. Marika Duczynski shares her grandmother’s story and how it impacts on her life as a young Aboriginal woman. By engaging with these lived experiences we can learn so much about our city, our shared histories and ourselves.” 

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