Part 3 - Lessons learned

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The Panel consulted widely with the Australian higher education sector during the course of the Review. Thirty-nine universities were visited, and meetings were held with vice-chancellors, senior executives, staff and students. A clear message received from university leadership teams is their desire for more information on what other universities are doing, and what is working. The Panel used the consultations to collect information on current university approaches to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and research and to hear from those people most affected by the approaches.

Overall, universities have mounted a lively response to the challenge of getting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into higher education and supporting their success while they are there. The purpose of this part of the report is to inform the reader about the sorts of initiatives that are currently being implemented and, importantly, to share information across institutions about lessons learned. Contributors were invited to share insights gained from their experience, in particular what they saw as the critical success factors and key challenges in implementing such programs.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive audit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs. The initiatives highlighted represent a small part of the total effort underway across the sector. The Panel selected case studies that it felt highlighted the range of forces affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and research: from outreach into schools, VET colleges and prisons, through nurturing a home-grown professional and academic workforce, to collaboration with professional bodies to raise cultural competency in priority professions.

The Panel saw value in showing a sample of the range of approaches being progressed. Some of the initiatives are too recently introduced to be judged on their efficacy, but the Panel expects that this would be undertaken as a part of the university’s normal evaluation and reporting processes.

The information provided has been collated from a range of sources, including publically available material and universities’ written responses to requests for information. The universities’ observations about their own approaches were used to identify challenges that might be faced in executing such approaches and factors critical to their longer-term success. Noting the number of initiatives highlighted and the nature of information collection, details on each initiative are necessarily brief. Readers interested in learning more about activities highlighted in this part are encouraged to contact the relevant university.