Chapter 6 - University culture and governance

Research for the Review (Pechenkina & Anderson 2011; Moreton-Robinson et al. 2011) and submissions to the Review129 highlighted the need for cultural change within universities so that their governance structures and teaching and learning are inclusive of and influenced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander expertise and perspectives. This kind of change requires universities to adopt a whole-of-university approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement and success in higher education, where ‘Indigenous strategy is integrated within the core business and accountabilities of the institution’ (Pechenkina & Anderson 2011, p. 2).

Indigenous business has to become university business if issues of disadvantage at all levels of higher education are to be effectively addressed. This means that Indigenous issues must become a major part of the mainstream policy development and administration in Australian universities (submission no. 16, Group of Eight, p. 24).

There are several universities already adopting best practice approaches to achieving a whole-of-university approach to Indigenous success in higher education.130 Universities can benefit from sharing lessons about these best practice approaches and supportive governance structures. However, given the distinctive nature of each university and their unique student profiles, universities must determine their own governance structures and cultural change processes. There can be no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

129 For example, submissions no. 49, Curtin University; no. 14, James Cook University; no. 20, La Trobe University; no. 24, Swinburne University of Technology; no. 21, the Minerals Council of Australia; no. 17, Government of South Australia – Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology; and no. 6, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.

130 University of Newcastle; University of Technology, Sydney; University of Sydney.