Uni Wollongong draws on Indigenous learning


At a time when many of us in the tertiary education sector are thinking about cutting-edge new technologies in teaching and learning – the University of Wollongong’s  Jindaola Programme does the opposite

It draws on tens of thousands of years of learning and teaches educators about Aboriginal perspectives and knowledges and how they can be incorporated into curriculum right across the university.

As Jade Kennedy, Academic Director and senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges, explained to me, one of the reasons for Jindaola’s success is it does not start from a deficit view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It does not try to assimilate Indigenous people into the university.

Jindaola draws on the knowledge-based economy that underpinned Aboriginal culture before contact.

Inspired in part by a push from Universities Australia for more Indigenous content in university curriculum, Jade and his team worked with elders in the local community to create Jindaola.

The programme takes academics on a journey to understand the knowledge of local elders, to think about how this knowledge can change both what they teach and how they teach, to co-create content, and to learn to sit “uncomfortably comfortable”.

Jindaola values Indigenous knowledge and creates a welcoming space for Aboriginal students at the university. It has also proven to be highly beneficial to non-Indigenous students.

As Jade explained, “you’ve got non Aboriginal people, creating safe spaces for Aboriginal people to speak authentically about their lived experiences and the knowledges they learned, growing up in this history and this complexity. Just being validated, being respected for the ways in which they understand the world and finding a contribution that they can make to the learning of each other, this is a beautiful thing to witness.”

The University of Wollongong deserves real credit for encouraging this initiative. And while Jindaola is located in ancient knowledges – it has proven highly resilient to an on-line shift during COVID as well.

Claire Field speaks with Jade Kennedy on the latest episode of the ‘What now? What Next?’ podcast. Listen online or in your favourite podcast feed