Tuesday, 2 July 2019

The School of Indigenous Studies (SIS) and School of Psychological Science (SPS) recently committed to a collaborative partnership to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Psychology, as well as the support they receive.

SPS and SIS recognised a multipronged approach was needed, including sharing with future students what Psychology has to offer and the pathways into Psychology.

As such, SPS began participating in SIS outreach events at the Year 10 and 11 Science, Health and Engineering Camp in 2018, and has stepped up to introduce Indigenous high school students to Psychology at the Year 12 Leadership Seminars. This outreach program proved successful and some student feedback showed an interest in taking up the subject in the future.

Increasing Indigenous content

We also wanted to teach our Psychology students in greater depth about the relevance of Psychology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through the unit Psychological Science in the Modern World (PSYC3303), Psychology students were already learning about how psychological knowledge can be applied to bring about positive change in social issues, including issues that particularly impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

However, we saw an opportunity to increase the amount of Indigenous content within this unit and to further develop staff expertise and capability in delivering Indigenous content. To achieve this, unit coordinator Dr Lies Notebaert worked collaboratively with SPS Clinical Psychology candidate Simone Harrington to source Indigenous content and resources relevant to the various topics within the unit. Simone additionally generated material to support students and staff to develop their cultural competency around Indigenous issues.

Moving forward

This initial partnership was highly successful and sowed the seeds for further change. For example, we were able to leverage faculty support to further increase Indigenous content across our undergraduate programs, and a further five SPS staff have committed to incorporating more Indigenous material  into their units. They will be supported in doing so by the School’s newly established Indigenous Working Party, which works in collaboration with SIS to increase Indigenous content, increase the number of Indigenous students in SPS, and increase the support they receive.

By working towards these goals, we collectively hope to grow Aboriginal-led psychological research and services, as well as to generate psychologists who are better equipped to understand and provide care options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ social and emotional wellbeing.

About the authors

Dr Lies Notebaert is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychological Science. She is Deputy Chair of the School’s Indigenous Working Party and Co-director of the Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion.

Simone Harrington is a proud Kidja woman, PhD researcher and Clinical Psychology candidate in the School of Psychological Science. She is also a student ambassador for the School of Indigenous Studies.


Education Quarterly