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Service Learning in Indigenous Communities

Our Service Learning in Indigenous Communities program provides exciting interdisciplinary opportunities to listen, learn and apply your knowledge to help address priority challenges with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What is Service Learning?

Service Learning draws together genuine community aspiration with the planning and provision of services. It fosters meaningful connections between people and place. The program centres around listening and sharing knowledge for mutually beneficial outcomes.

The Service Learning in Indigenous Communities (SLIC) program allows you to work on essential projects co-designed and directed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As a participant in the program, you will be able to extend your cultural competency.

Working directly with leading voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the SLIC program is a model for what is possible through open dialogue and cooperation.

What's involved

The SLIC program is an Industry and Community Project which provides credit towards your degree. Entry is now available to undergraduate students as a Semester 1 Industry and Community Project (ICPU) 3000 level unit of study.

You’ll work on real-world projects that have been prioritised and identified by Indigenous communities and apply your academic perspective, while gaining valuable experience working across disciplinary boundaries.

Ideal candidates will have strong communication skills, empathy, agility and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

As part of the SLIC program, you’ll:

  • deepen your understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's history, values and perspectives and the ‘causes of the causes’ of inequality in housing and social outcomes
  • develop skills in working in strengths-based, culturally competent and empowering ways as you plan, prepare and engage with your SLIC team and community
  • learn about the community with the community
  • design interviews with cultural sensitivity
  • engage with, and visit where possible, a host community for up to 14 days (March 25 – April 6)
  • attend a pre-semester intensive plus 3 hours weekly during Semester 1
  • attend a pre-semester intensive (three day in person workshop: February 15-17) plus 3 hours weekly during Semester 1
  • submit individual and collaborative assessments.

Benefits of the program

Service Learning in Indigenous Communities is a flagship project of the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Services. SLIC embodies the University’s commitment to embedding Aboriginal world views beyond the boundaries of the University campus.

In this program, you will use active listening to gain an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing, and doing and challenge your assumptions about the ownership and nature of knowledge.

As each project is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, you will be actively engaged in an authentic process of collaboration.

“Our group varies across a huge number of disciplines from linguistics to media to philosophy to law (even students who are on exchange) and beyond, all brought together with a common passion to learn more about Indigenous Australia. Even though we are working remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions we were still given the great honour of working with some amazing local Indigenous community organisations, guided by truly passionate academics, on some really important real-world projects throughout the semester. So if you’re a little bit hesitant about the application process, my biggest advice would be - apply anyway for a truly valuable experience!”

- Genevieve Neich, undergraduate student

Watch this video to hear from students who participated in the Semester 1, 2021 SLIC program about what SLIC is like.

North Coast Aboriginal Development Alliance: Supporting Responsive Flood Recovery with Aboriginal communities 

The Semester 1 2023 SLIC will be delivered as an Industry and Community Projects Unit (IPCU). Please read the ICPU website to gain a clear understanding of these units and how to apply for the SLIC project.

Students will be working in Aboriginal communities on the north coast of NSW with University and Community supervisors and the North Coast Aboriginal Development Alliance (NCADA). The project builds upon a 2021 SLIC/NCADA project in which 23 SLIC students conducted interviews with Aboriginal service providers and NCADA partners working across housing, youth and women’s wellbeing and services to small communities in the region. The students documented many complex challenges for NCADA.

In 2022, the north coast was hit multiple times with excessive rainfall and extensive flooding, propelling a housing shortage that was already extreme for Aboriginal residents into a shelter and housing crisis. Planning for recovery out of this crisis is difficult without a clear indication of the state of housing and the kinds of reparations most needed to make housing safe and healthy for occupants and without clear understanding of the most pressing wellbeing support needs. Students will produce group reports that detail what they learn from speaking to community partners and householders about the state of their housing and its impacts on wellbeing across the community. This information will be provided back to NCADA to enhance their strategic planning, resource allocation and decision making to provide the best possible support for effective recovery and resilience-building for Aboriginal people against future disasters.

Project mode: CC on campus only

Timetable: Mondays 5:00pm – 6:00pm and Wednesdays 4:00pm – 6:00pm

For any questions regarding the SLIC ICPU please contact slic.info@sydney.edu.au.

What is expected: We ask all students interested in SLIC to recognise that the material we cover and the things you hear and learn about the impacts of colonisation, trans-generational trauma and the experience of extreme weather events and climate change generally, can be confronting. The SLIC Team acknowledges this and seeks to prepare you as a team to be empowering, agile, resilient and trusting of the processes we use. SLIC applies ways of working that are similar to those which have enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to survive despite centuries of adversity.

Pre-semester workshop series: Your preparation begins in a compulsory 3-day on campus workshop from February 15 - 17 (9am to 5pm daily) when you will experience topics from the first stage of the highly respected and researched Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Empowerment Program with Aboriginal community guests. This includes personal exploration and forms the foundation of your understandings on how to work cohesively and successfully as a student group and with your host communities.

Weekly Lecture and Tutorial Sessions: Each week you will be provided with a pre-recorded lecture (one hour) and readings covering key topic areas to give you a broad understanding of the structural and climate change challenges that Aboriginal people face in attaining good housing, health, education and employment. We will hold a one hour discussion of the week’s content on Monday evenings from 5 - 6pm. The Wednesday evening 4 – 6pm Tutorial Sessions will allow you to work with your colleagues in the planning of your project and to analyse and report your findings.

The NSW north coast field trip: This semester’s project, Supporting Responsive Flood Recovery with Aboriginal communities, will require you to travel as a group to the north coast of NSW from March 25 to April 6 for final preparations and to conduct your community project (see above). The cost of flights, ground transport and accommodation will be arranged and covered by the SLIC program. You will only need to pay for your food and other personal costs. A letter regarding your absence from the University will be provided for you to share with your other unit of study coordinators to allow any arrangements and considerations to be applied.

Eligibility

SLIC is delivered in partnership with the ICPU program, so please check the shell units that are listed on the ICPU website and make sure that you are eligible to undertake one of the listed shell units.

If you think that you may be interested and would like more information, email slic.info@sydney.edu.au

How to apply

Students will be working directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, therefore students are required to complete an interview process to partake in this ICPU.
1

Enrol in a Semester 1 3000 level shell unit as per instructions on the ICPU website.

2

Register for the North Coast Aboriginal Development Alliance project in Sydney Student as per instructions on the ICPU website. We will then contact you quickly to organise an interview.

Following the interview, you will receive confirmation of your place in the SLIC ICPU, or be advised to unregister from the SLIC project and select another project.

Please read the information carefully on the ICPU website to ensure you understand what is required from participants of this project.

For any questions regarding the SLIC ICPU please contact slic.info@sydney.edu.au.

Last updated: 24 January 2023

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