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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 an 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 a host community
  • attend 3 hours a week of scheduled class time
  • participate in an Aboriginal personal development and cultural competency program
  • submit individual and collaborative assessments.

An alternative unit of study may also be available via some postgraduate programs. Please email for more information.

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, 2023 SLIC program about what SLIC is like.

Girringun Aboriginal Corporation: Listening to Aboriginal Community Voices

The 2023 SLIC will be delivered as an Industry and Community Projects Unit (ICPU). 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 in north Queensland with University and Community supervisors and Girringun Aboriginal Corporation (GAC). GAC was established in 1996 by Elders of its 9 Traditional Owner member groups in north Queensland. GAC proudly serves its membership of around 800 Bandjin, Djiru, Girramay, Gugu Badhun, Gulngay, Jirrbal, Nywaigi, Warungnuand Warrgamaypeople and their families and communities.

Girringun Aboriginal Corporation has identified five priority projects for 2024 SLIC students.

Project 1 – Process Unite

This initiative of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation is an acknowledgement that together, member tribes and their representative organisations can build a legacy for their children’s children. It aims to provide a collective response to key political issues and discussions including:

  • voice to Parliament
  • path to Treaty
  • opportunities to negotiate compensation.

Students will work with the Process Unite project team to support research, community engagement and consultation activities.

Project 2 – Review of Indigenous Protected Areas Management Plan 2013-2023

The Girringun Region Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) were declared in 2013 and encompass diverse tenures within the land and sea countries of the Bandjin, Djiru, Girramay, Gugu Badhun, Gulngay, Nywaigi, Warrgamay and Warrungnu First Nations Traditional Owners. The collective governance arrangements and culturally informed decision-making processes of the Girringun IPAs, as defined by traditional law and custom, now co-exist in a complex landscape of representative structures, including diverse incorporated bodies. Students will support the IPA Coordinator in scoping and implementing a scheduled review of the Girringun Region IPA Management Plan 2013-2023.

Project 3 – Girringun Junior Rangers Program

Junior Rangers is an important element of the Girringun Indigenous Rangers Strategic Plan. It includes regular ranger visits to local schools and a work experience program. SLIC students will assist to evaluate the Junior Rangers Program and contribute to development of a business plan to support a range of Australian Curriculum informed and culturally assured GAC educational services.

Project 4 – Wabu-Jananyu GAC-Rainforest Bounty Joint Venture

Wabu Jananyu is an Indigenous-owned social enterprise specialising in revegetation, plant and fruit sales and consumer packaged goods, including beverages, healthy snacks, and Nutraceuticals. The Wabu Jananyu mission is rooted in honouring Indigenous heritage by giving back, promoting sustainability, and preserving Australia's ecosystems. Students will help to develop a business case for an Indigenous social enterprise grounded in sustainability and cultural preservation with a mandate to give back to GAC Traditional Owner stakeholders.

Project 5 – Implementing the GirringunAboriginal Corporation Strategic Communications Plan

Students will assist in the implementation of a strategic communications plan to support Girringun’s Art Centre and Keeping Place, Biodiversity and Native Plant Nursery, Indigenous Protected Areas, Ranger Program and Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement programs.

For any questions regarding the SLIC ICPU please contact

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 like those that have enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to survive despite centuries of adversity.

Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Empowerment Program: You will experience topics from the first stage of the highly respected and researched Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Empowerment Program during your unit of study. This includes personal exploration and helps build your understandings on how to work cohesively and successfully as a student group and with your host community.

Weekly 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. The weekly 3 hour tutorial workshop sessions will allow you to work with your colleagues in the planning of your project and to analyse and report your findings.

The GAC north Queensland field trip: Semester 1 2024 will require you to travel as a group to Girringun Aboriginal Corporation located in north Queensland for final preparations and to conduct your community project. The cost of flights, ground transport and accommodation will be arranged and covered by the SLIC program. You will need to make a small contribution to help cover expenses. 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.


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

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. Check your eligibility to enrol in a 3000 level ICPU shell unit.
  2. Read the information carefully on this page to ensure you understand what is required from participants of this project.
  3. Send the following to the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Services (
    • Your CV and Academic Transcript
    • One page statement detailing the reasons why you’re interested in being part of the program.
  4. Once you have lodged your EOI, the SLIC team will email you to arrange an interview prior to project commencement.
  5. After interview, the SLIC team will advise if you have gained a place in the program.
  6. Successful applicants will need to enrol in a 3000 level ICPU shell unit as per instructions on the ICPU website.
  7. Once enrolled, please notify the SLIC team so that they can organise registration for you in Sydney Student.

For any questions regarding the SLIC ICPU please contact

Last updated: 27 September 2023

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