Listening to First Nations Voices — Podcast 11
This episode continues to explore UC’s Indigenising the Curriculum Framework, which aims to increase Indigenous content at UC by embedding Indigenous Ways of Knowing into all Courses. For more information about the Framework, check out Episode 10’s interview with Marina Martiniello.
The podcast team ran a survey of Indigenous students at UC, asking about their experiences with the Framework and being Indigenous at UC.
We spoke with Jenaya Gibbs-Muir, an Indigenous student, and discussed our survey results with her.
A transcript of this interview is available below.
The Listening to First Nations Voices podcast was created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous University of Canberra students. The idea for this podcast came from Associate Professor Samia Goudie who is passionate about Indigenous people and culture and is attempting to expand people’s knowledge on the subject and start a conversation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This podcast was developed to educate people on Indigenous ways of being, doing and knowing, and to inspire awareness and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the richness Aboriginal people bring to Australia.
Episodes 10 & 11 were created by a passionate team of young professionals studying at UC. Team members, and their areas of study, were:
- Daniel Chudleigh — Visual Communication
- Lucy Monaghan — Creative Writing
- Gabrielle Gregoire — Film
- Tim Cross — Film
- Alexandra Mackay — Interaction Design
- Clare Douch — Heritage, Museums and Conservation
Listening to First Nations Voices Episode 11 – Transcript
Daniel: Hi, welcome to Listening to First Nations Voices podcast. I am Daniel, and I am your host again for today.
First, before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal People, whose land we are on today, and I’d like to acknowledge their Elders past and present.
So, if you watched the last episode of the podcast, we interviewed Marina Martiniello, and she helped explain to us about the Indigenising the Curriculum program here at the University of Canberra.
So, after that, we did a survey and we got many responses back, and now we have one of the people who answered the survey in the studio with us today. So, Jenaya, welcome to the podcast.
Jenaya: Thank you.
Daniel: First I’d like to ask – so, most of the people who answered the survey hadn’t heard of this Indigenising the Curriculum program. Is it surprising that not many people had heard of it, and why do you think that’s the case?
Jenaya: I don’t think it is surprising. Just because, I feel that the Indigenous Culture isn’t taught to many people when they’re younger, unless they choose to take it up, like I did – I’m Indigenous, obviously – but, I didn’t know the full history until I was older in high school, and the only reason I knew that was because I took on an Aboriginal Study.
So, it really doesn’t surprise me to be honest.
Daniel: So, what you’re saying is it’s not mainstream, it’s still like a niche sort of subject?
Jenaya: Yeah, like I feel like it’s very still… taboo, I suppose, to teach to kids – even in high school. Because a lot of people are taught from a young age that Captain Cook came here, and then that’s it. They’re not really taught like, the dark history of it all, which is kind of disappointing because it leads to a lot of misinformation and miseducation, and to the racism and discrimination in this country as well.
Daniel: So, all the Indigenous students who did answer the survey claimed that the University of Canberra doesn’t have enough Indigenous content in the Units. So, why do you think this is a problem?
Jenaya: I feel like, that it’s usually like to teach Indigenous Content in certain subjects… it’s there to tick a box, it’s not actually there to inform the students and to give them the correct information and to allow them to understand why we have racism and discrimination in this country.
Mostly because… they’re kind of scared, or don’t want to acknowledge the full history, I suppose.
Daniel: So, in the survey you said that the University isn’t listening to students in regards to student needs. Why is that?
Jenaya: I wouldn’t be too sure, to be honest. I feel like, when it comes to listening to Indigenous students, because I’ve heard like… other students say to me we should have something just for Indigenous students – like a society just for us.
And, I had a friend who actually wanted to get a society going here, for Indigenous students. But, it never went up and running, it never heard anything from the Dean or anything on if we could get funding for it, and we haven’t heard if we can meet together or anything like that.
So, I guess, yeah, the University should do more for their Indigenous students, instead of us having to do it ourselves.
Daniel: In the survey, we asked people about what could be done to improve Indigenous participation at the University of Canberra. So, some of the students gave many suggestions, which I wanted to ask about.
One student suggested increasing the amount of visible art and culture at UC, such as Ngunnawal language used in signage, as an example. What do you think of this?
Jenaya: I think that can really help, because people want to know the Indigenous language, they want to educate themselves about it, and I feel like having Indigenous signage on like, Ngunnawal language would actually help, because then people would be more curious and want to learn more about it.
I know for a fact it works, because there has been universities I went to that do use Indigenous language, and they’ve seen an increase of students wanting to learn more about the culture and the language as well.
Daniel: Another student suggested making Indigenous subjects compulsory for education subjects specifically. Do you think this would work?
Jenaya: I feel like having some sort of cultural training will work, because I feel like it might re-educate those about Indigenous culture, especially in Education, because that is such a vital subject for Indigenous students.
And, I feel like if you have teachers that learn about the culture and that engage themselves in the culture, it makes the students want to come to school, and I think that would be what you would want, right? To have more Indigenous kids at school, so yeah, I think that should be important – in any subject, really.
Daniel: What about more financial support like subsidies for UniLodge and all that sort of stuff?
Jenaya: Yeah. I definitely think that there should be more subsidies for Indigenous students. I feel like that would allow them to see that there is an opportunity to go to university. I know that some students don’t feel university as an option at all, because they feel like they can’t afford it. So, I feel like having some sort of subsidy for accommodation would help, or even maybe a subsidy for HECS as well would really be helpful, and would allow Indigenous students to come to university more.
Daniel: Well, do you think that subsidies for just poor students in general, rather than Indigenous ones, could work better instead?
Jenaya: Oh yeah, definitely. I feel like any person should be able to go to university, if they want to, and money shouldn’t be something that stops them, I suppose.
Daniel: And one person suggested a social society for Indigenous students, which you said didn’t work out. So, how would a social society work?
Jenaya: I feel like it would work if we had like, say, funding for events. Or, even if it wasn’t sponsored by the uni, if we knew that there was an Indigenous support network.
We go to the Ngunnawal Centre, but every time you go there you meet one or two people, and then the next time you can meet different people, so I feel like having someone, or some sort of committee, for social events for specifically Indigenous people would be good, because then you can meet all of them at the same time, I suppose.
And, you could build the support network from there. I know that I’ve only got one or two friends that are Indigenous at this uni, and that’s the only people I really know, so.
Daniel: Do you think there’s a bit of a stigma against forming a social group?
Jenaya: No, I wouldn’t really. I think it’d be like most clubs here at the university. Everyone has a club to go to, and I feel like having something specifically for Indigenous students, because Indigenous people have this way of relating to each other, because of everything they’ve gone through – and they’ve gone through similar things in life.
I feel like having that kind of support network would actually help them socially and would help them with their schooling as well.
Daniel: You said before that Indigenous students have a way of relating to each other. What do you mean by this?
Jenaya: I know that personally, I grew up in a country town, and there was obviously a small Indigenous community there. And I didn’t really feel like I belonged when I was in high school, especially with Indigenous people.
It wasn’t until I went to an Aboriginal Studies class… and you meet other students who are Indigenous – they don’t have to be – but yeah, you meet other students who are Indigenous, and you hear what they’ve gone through and their struggles. For example, maybe they have… I don’t want to sound racist, but they might have more white friends than Indigenous friends, and they feel like they don’t know where exactly they belong, because they might be too white for Indigenous people, or too Indigenous for white people. So they kind of feel stuck sometimes.
I’ve met other students who’ve gone through a similar experience as that, and I feel like when you meet other students who go through that, you’re kind of like, “oh, okay I’m not the only one that had a bit of a…” like that’s just an example, but I feel like Indigenous people growing up in Australia with the racism and discrimination we have also have a shared experience that way as well, and they all kind of feel outcast at some point in their lives.
I feel like having a society wherever you go, or just knowing any Indigenous person actually makes you feel a lot more comfortable in your environment, if that makes sense?
Daniel: And that sums up today’s episode of Listening to First Nations Voices podcast; stay tuned for future episodes.