Embedding Indigenous cultural competency in criminal justice curriculum

Annette Gainsford1

1Charles Sturt University

Indigenous cultural competency is identified as an important graduate learning outcome that is supported through the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 and is reinforced through current industry standards for justice professionals. Our aim as a regional university is to produce youth justice professionals that have knowledge of how the historical and contemporary treatment of Aboriginal peoples has contributed to the over representation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice system today. We identify that there is a gap between industry need and graduate capabilities. Therefore, we have implemented a pedagogical framework to include Indigenous cultural competency across the curriculum to produce justice professionals that possess the necessary knowledge and skills to work effectively with Indigenous youth and communities. Justice agencies continue to set objectives to better facilitate systemic disadvantage for Indigenous youth consequently requiring culturally competent criminal justice graduates to work within this field. This presentation will include the complexities of embedding Indigenous Australian content within the justice curriculum, how it might be achieved by providing a useful model for integrating contextual learning experiences and by linking cultural competency outcomes to current industry standards. Thus, providing justice graduates with foundational cultural competency skills to apply to their professional practice.

Key words: Indigenous cultural competency, over representation of Indigenous youth and crime, justice curriculum, systemic disadvantage


Annette Gainsford is a Wiradjuri woman from Bathurst, is a Lecturer in Law and Justice and an Indigenous Academic Fellow at Charles Sturt University. Annette has a background in social justice education with extensive experience in developing and maintaining collaborative community partnerships to enhance educational outcomes for tertiary students. Annette’s knowledge and experience of planning and delivery of Indigenous perspectives in the law and justice curriculum and implementing Indigenous pedagogies to assist tertiary teaching is founded from work as an Indigenous Educational Designer and Indigenous academic.