Jindaola’s clean sweep in international academic development awards

Unique UOW program authentically embeds Aboriginal Knowledges and perspectives into university curriculum

An innovative program that weaves Indigenous Knowledges and perspectives through the University of Wollongong’s teaching practice was last night (Thursday 7 November) named the winner of the two major categories of the Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Awards.

During a ceremony at Bond University, on the Gold Coast, Jindaola was named the overall winner of the inaugural Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Award and also received the Peer’s Choice Award.

Developed by UOW’s Learning, Teaching and Curriculum team, in consultation with Aboriginal Elders and Knowledge Holders, Jindaola builds knowledge-based relationships between disciplinary knowledges and local Aboriginal knowledges that results in Aboriginal stories, experiences, ways and perspectives embedded within the UOW curriculum.

The program, which was introduced in 2017, is modelled on traditional Aboriginal systems for conducting business and maintaining knowledge integrity. The majority of UOW’s Australian campuses are situated on Yuin Country, which encompasses the South Coast of NSW.

The aim of Jindaola is to ensure the principles of respect, responsibility, and reciprocity, which underpin Yuin ways of conducting business, are firmly ingrained in the University’s approach to learning and teaching.

Jade Kennedy, Jindaola Program facilitator and Lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges, said the program had its origins in Aboriginal Dreaming.

“Jindaola is the Dharawal word for goanna, and Jindaola within our Dreaming walks from place to place teaching people ‘proper way’ for conducting business. Jindaola has left his tracks for us to follow long before we were even here,” Mr Kennedy said.

“These tracks represent for us a part of our law, and to follow in these tracks will ensure a meaningful, respectful and appropriate way to approach the embedding of Aboriginal knowledges and perspectives in our curriculum.”

Jindaola Team Program MainThe Learning, Teaching and Curriculum team at UOW. Photo: Paul Jones

Jindaola has already gained recognition, both at UOW and beyond. At the University, it has drawn participants from across the five faculties, with two annual cohorts of participants already engaging in the 18-month program.

Dr Lisa Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Development, said the team was excited to be recognised in the Australasian Academic Development Good Practice Awards.

“The program brings together staff from LTC, Aboriginal Elders, and participants in informal and formal gatherings so they can collaborate and learn together in an authentic knowledge exchange,” Dr Thomas said.

“Jindaola has been embraced by staff from all faculties at the University, and continues to expand each year. Being named a finalist in the awards is recognition of the impact Jindaola has already had, and will continue to have, on UOW’s curriculum and community.”

Professor Paul Chandler, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Outreach) said he was thrilled to see Jindaola receive the recognition it deserves and congratulated the team on their win.

“Jindaola is the most innovative piece of curriculum development I’ve seen in 28 years of academia,” Professor Chandler said. “Winning both awards is hardly a surprise to me, because of the calibre of the program and the team involved. To me, this success speaks to what UOW can achieve when it dreams big and thinks outside the box.”

The team consists of Mr Jade Kennedy, Dr Lisa Thomas, Dr Alisa Percy, Dr Bonnie Dean, Dr Kathryn Harden-Thew, Dr Janine Delahunty, Ms Julie Avena, Professor Maarten de Laat, and Professor Paul Chandler, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Outreach).

The Australian Academic Development Good Practice Awards are an initiative of the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching.

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