Towards growing Indigenous culturally competent legal professionals in Australia


  • Marcelle Burns Queensland University of Technology


The Review of Australian Higher Education (Bradley Review, 2008) and
the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander People (Behrendt Review, 2012) identified
the need for tertiary institutions to incorporate Indigenous knowledges
into curriculum to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous
Australians and to increase the cultural competency of all students. These
reviews recommended that higher education providers ensure that the
institutional culture, the cultural competence of staff and the nature of the
curriculum supports the participation of Indigenous students, and that
Indigenous knowledge be embedded into curriculum so that all students
have an understanding of Indigenous culture. While cultural competency
has been recognised as an essential element of professional practice in
health services internationally, and legal practice in the United States,
very little work has been done to promote the cultural competency of
legal professionals in the Australian context. This paper will discuss a
pilot cultural competency professional development program for legal
academics at Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane) developed
with the assistance of a Faculty of Law Teaching and Learning Grant in
2010-2012, and tell one Murri’s journey to foster Indigenous cultural
competency in an Australian law school.