Creating culturally safe spaces

Contributing to a safe university community is everyone’s responsibility. Learn how you can further create culturally safe learning and teaching spaces for our students.

ACU recently hosted a webinar on providing support and guidance, particularly within learning and teaching spaces, to our First Nations students during the referendum period. 

The First Peoples Directorate and CEI wish to extend their thanks to the large number of staff that attended this important event and participated in the valuable discussion. 

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the one-hour webinar recording below: 

In addition to the resources made available, there are other steps that can be taken to create culturally safe learning and teaching spaces, and ways to support our First Nations students in particular:

  • Inform students of the support available from the Indigenous Higher Education Units (IHEU).
  • Include content statements, warnings or summaries at the beginning of lectures or in class, advising students of what may be discussed so they can make choices about their engagement. 
  • Maintain your role as a trustworthy support person and advocate for potential students while they build rapport with support services within ACU. 
  • Be aware that First Nations staff and students are not obliged to discuss the Voice, to explain their views, nor should they be the individuals or peoples to inform or educate their colleagues and peers. 
  • Be conscious of and check-in with students who are undertaking placements at this time or are off-country and living away from their family to ensure they are being adequately supported.  
  • If students are on placement, reach out to the placement agency or supervisor to check-in and offer information on supporting students during the referendum or advise how this may impact their placement.
  • Think critically about the conversations being held and whether you and your teaching team are being respectful during this time, including in the classroom, virtually and on campus. 
  • Communicate and reiterate all support services that are available to students, offer students direct access to this information. 
  • Maintain a level of flexibility in attendance and engagement expectations, while there may be changes to student engagement and participation.
  • Speak up and report any instances of racism or violence that you notice in the university. 
  • Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of both the Assessment Policy and Special Consideration Procedures.
  • Proactively support and communicate the policy and procedures with students so they know what options are available to them and the formal support they may be eligible for. 
  • Recognise that this situation is an exceptional circumstance and is therefore considered to meet Special Consideration requirements. 

Indigenous Higher Education Units 

There are on-campus hubs at all ACU campuses which offer academic, personal and cultural support to ACU students. The Indigenous Higher Education Units (IHEU) provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with a welcoming, culturally safe space to study and meet in an environment that promotes positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity.

Free study assistance can be provided to students through 1-on-1 tuition. If students are deemed at risk, flagged or at point of an appeal process, the IHEU can assist to show cause, or act as a conduit between support units and schools to encourage conversations with course coordinators and Lecturers in Charge about student progress. 

Staff are encouraged to connect and form relationships with IHEU staff to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.   

For additional resources, please refer to the Voice to Parliament staff resource which provides valuable information to encourage respectful and informed dialogue.

Important resources for students

Important resources that staff are encouraged to share with students include:

ACU Indigenous Higher Education Unit

ACU Voice to Parliament resource - with information and additional support services

ACU Student Counselling

ACU 24-hour Mental Health Support Line: phone - 1300 638 485 or text - 0488 884 191



Special Consideration

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