Indigenous Engagement at University of New South Wales – Australia

Nura Gili, words from the language of the Eora Nation that mean ‘place’ and ‘fire/light’, respectively, is also the name of the Centre for Indigenous Programmes at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. The University acknowledges and recognizes that their campuses are located on the traditional lands of three separate Aboriginal communities: the Bidigal people (Kensington campus), the Gadigal people (City campuses – UNSW Business School and UNSW Arts and Design) and the Ngunnawal people (UNSW Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra). UNSW Kensington is located near an 8000 year old campsite, a site that holds significance as a place for gathering, meeting, teaching and sharing.

At UNSW Business School, Indigenous Business programs are led by Rebecca Harcourt. She plays a pivotal role in supporting Indigenous students academically, personally and professionally and is a key broker of Indigenous engagement with the faculty and key external stakeholders as well as across. Recently, I spoke with Rebecca about UNSW Business School’s work around Indigenous business education.

What is Nura Gili and how did it come about?

Nura Gili is the Indigenous Programmes Unit at UNSW. In partnership with UNSW Faculties, including UNSW Business School, Nura Gili provides pathways for prospective Indigenous students to study in all UNSW faculties and programs. Nura Gili also provides a range of Indigenous student support services, tutorial and study spaces for enrolled students.

Furthermore, the unit houses Nura Gili’s Indigenous Studies programmes, academics, researchers and facilities for higher research degree students. All undergraduate and postgraduate Indigenous students at UNSW are welcome to use Nura Gili’s services, programmes and facilities.

What opportunities do Indigenous students have to enter UNSW Business School Programmes?

UNSW Australia Business Schools works closely with Nura Gili to offer a range of pathway business programmes designed to create an environment that welcomes and supports Indigenous students. In 2012, there were 49 Indigenous Commerce Alumni. In 2014, this rose to 60, including one PhD in Management. Potential Indigenous students have access to numerous programmes through Nura Gili. The Business Community Forums offer potential Indigenous students the chance to spend time at the school, meet current UNSW Business School Indigenous students, graduates, academic and professional staff as well as some of our industry partners.

The UNSW Indigenous Winter School is a one week aspirational   programme for Indigenous high school students in years 10, 11, and 12. Students spend three days at the business school to learn firsthand more about undergraduate degree programs, internships, and scholarships.The UNSW Indigenous Pre Programme in Business is a is a four week articulation program. This intensive residential preparatory course is designed to assist Indigenous Australians to develop the skills necessary to successfully complete studies in Business. The course surveys a range of business disciplines as well as study and learning skills. Also included is opportunity to apply your learning through case studies and industry site visits. Successful completion of the program can lead to direct entry into our Bachelor of Commerce or our University Preparation Program in Business.  The University Preparation Program in Business a is a one year program  that helps students bolster their academic skills and is designed for people who have potential, but are not yet be prepared for their first year of undergraduate study. Students who successfully complete The University Preparation Program can go on to complete an undergraduate business degree at UNSW Business School.

We also have a dedicated UNSW Business School Guide for Indigenous students.

How are Indigenous issues embedded across the business school curriculum?

Our focus is to provide students with the opportunity to engage with Indigenous perspectives from an asset-based approach: one that values the strengths and diversity of Indigenous peoples today living and working across their many nations in urban, regional and remote settings. Students are introduced to different models of business engagement with Indigenous people across First Nations in Australia, such as Jawun, Gilimbba and Supply Nation as well as international models. Students are encouraged to consider the different motivations of why and how industry engages with Indigenous people and to consider the cultural capital of knowledge and innovation as well as the financial and economic implications of the fourth bottom line – spirit and the beliefs and knowledge of Indigenous peoples.

A special case study was commissioned by Terri Janke that focuses on Indigenous engagement as well as cultural and intellectual property. This case study is incorporated into the teaching of the MBA.

In May 2013, we hosted and facilitated a consultation workshop with the UN Global Compact to provide input into the Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That guide and specific case studies are being incorporated across courses in the faculty.

What other programmes would you like to highlight in this area?

Another key success is with AGSM Executive Education, part of UNSW Business School, which, together with the NSW Public Service Commission, has formed a partnership to facilitate career and leadership development for Aboriginal NSW Public Sector Employees who aspire to achieve leadership roles. Importantly, the development and delivery of this programme is done collaboratively with Aboriginal people who have experience in the NSW Public Sector and AGSM faculty.

The Aboriginal Career and Leadership Development Program (ACLDP), initiated in 2014, is a key initiative of the NSW Public Sector Aboriginal Employment Strategy. In 2014 and 2015, the two inaugural ACLDP programs, each running over a 3 month period, brought together forty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Executives from across the NSW public service. The continuation of this programme will contribute to the Premier’s priority to double the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in senior leadership roles in the government sector over the next ten years.

In 2016, an additional three ACLDP programmes are being held and by the end of 2016, these programmes will have over 100 alumni. Additionally, the ACDLP alumni accrue credit towards AGSM’s Certificate in Executive Management and Development (CEMD).

What have been some of your successes?

A good example of success can be seen in a film (see below) about a key networking event created by Sarah Hyland, a UNSW Business School Indigenous graduate, when she was working with Indigenous Accountants Australia. Sarah drew on her knowledge and experience throughout her time as an undergraduate student, including her leadership and engagement at our annual UNSW Business School Indigenous Community Forums

Many of our UNSW Business School Indigenous students and alumni’s engagement and ongoing successes are featured in articles here.

Any advice for other schools looking to put in place program/support for Indigenous students?

Relationships are key. Provide ongoing advocacy and support for all your Indigenous students and alumni throughout their studies so that they can engage in the many academic, mentoring and industry opportunities offered within your school and beyond. Work together across all institutions locally, nationally and overseas to build greater opportunities for Indigenous people to thrive.

Listen to and work closely with your Indigenous students and/or graduates and/or leaders and/or stakeholders across business, education, communities, corporations, government, media and not-for-profit sectors to ensure that you continue to respond and meet the needs of all our Indigenous business students and provide them with the confidence to take advantage of and choose from the best opportunities available.

Engage, commission, invest and employ from a diverse range of new and established Indigenous researchers, academics and/or professionals with credibility and growing expertise across your teaching and research programmes. We are just at the beginning of this journey and we all have much to learn and gain from.



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s