When I commenced work with the Business School’s Rosemary Sainty on implementing the Indigenous Graduate Attribute (IGA) into the Management major within the Bachelor of Business, the furthest thing from our minds was research collaboration.

UTS’s IGA has a professional capability focus and needs to be contextually embedded into disciplines in order that graduates will be able to work effectively with and for Indigenous Australians. Thus, identifying where Indigenous content and perspectives could be embedded meaningfully into the curriculum was an important focus of our discussion.

Non-Indigenous academics often come to this work fearful of making mistakes. They can be uncertain of whether they are ‘qualified’ to teach Indigenous content, where to fit the content into the curriculum and how to handle any potential student resistance. The investment by UTS in a team of teaching and learning academics under the leadership of Annette Gainsford to support faculties in achieving this work represents best practice in the Australian higher education sector.

Embedding the IGA: Management Skills

Rosemary teaches Management Skills, a core subject in the Management major of the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Management. The subject promotes a positive psychology and positive organisational scholarship approach to management. As future managers, students gain knowledge and skills to facilitate and support culturally safe workplaces.

Working with Rosemary was refreshing. She was candid and open about the challenges but also committed to embedding the IGA and willing to work collegially to find an optimal solution.

A chance find of the Gari Yala Speak the Truth research report from UTS’s own Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research and the Diversity Council Australia provided the perfect resource to align the Indigenous content to 2 topics within the subject: ‘Flourishing at Work’ and ‘Wellbeing: Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace.’

The report was produced under the leadership of Nareen Young in her prior role as Professor for Indigenous Policy at Jumbunna before she moved to her current role as Associate Dean, Indigenous Leadership and Engagement within UTS Business School. It offered the dual advantage of showcasing the important, impactful and industry relevant work of Jumbunna, while building students’ knowledge and skills to improve cultural safety in the workplace for Indigenous Australians. In applying their learning, students are asked to select 3 of the 10 truths in the report identify what actions they would take as a future manager to promote a culturally safe workplace. 

From compliance to collaboration – a critical reflection

Discussion of the process of the IGA implementation with Rosemary alongside Christopher Bajada on the implementation of the IGA into the economics major highlighted how important it is to have a clear process, guidelines, support and collegial relationships to ensure that this work progresses. There is limited academic literature that examines the experience of implementing Indigenous perspective into business curricula and this highlighted to us the importance of publishing in this space.

A team involving both Rosemary and Chris from the Faculty of Business, and Annette Gainsford, Danielle Manton and myself from the Indigenous Teaching and Learning Team, collaborated to develop a paper critically reflecting on our experiences of engaging in this work. This was presented at the Australia New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference in December 2023.

Resources, support and workshops

Read how others have embedded IGA into their subjects:

The IGA Website (UTS log-in required) has a wealth of resources, guidelines and case studies on Indigenous Graduate Attributes.

You can also register for a professional development workshop on Indigenous cultural capability and developing culturally space practices.

Join the discussion