The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Evaluating Cultural Competence in Indigenous Higher Education Contexts in Australia: A Challenge for Change

James A. Smith and Kim Robertson

Originally published in Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector
June 2020

Abstract

Indigenous participation and achievement in education is an issue of national and international significance. Within Australia, the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People—often referred to as the Behrendt Review—provided a clear blueprint for investing in policies and programmes that support Indigenous pathways, transitions, participation and achievement in higher education.

Introduction

Indigenous1 participation and achievement in education is an issue of national and international significance. Within Australia, the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (Behrendt, Larkin, Griew, & Kelly, )—often referred to as the Behrendt Review—provided a clear blueprint for investing in policies and programmes that support Indigenous pathways, transitions, participation and achievement in higher education. Yet, the review also acknowledged that:

While considerable data was available through departmental program-based reporting to monitor progress, there was not always sufficient evidence to assess the overall success or otherwise of specific programs. In some cases, there were no independent evaluations of programs for the Panel to draw on. (Behrendt et al., )

The review subsequently recommended that the Australian Government and universities work together to develop a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education monitoring and evaluation framework (Behrendt et al., ). While there have been multiple investments in Indigenous higher education since the Behrendt Review, action on this recommendation has remained elusive. Similarly, the  recommendation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council to develop a “performance framework” has also been ignored. Before we problematise this further, it is useful to understand the broader Indigenous evaluation landscape in Australia.

Read the full chapter in Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector.


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