New Kinship Module to Enhance Students' Cultural Competence

30 July 2014

The traditional social structures and interrelationships between Australia's Aboriginal people are explained on a comprehensive yet succinct website being launched at The University of Sydney today.

The Kinship on-line module has been developed as a teaching tool for the University's students but is a useful resource for all teachers and students who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal people in Australia.

The site is underpinned by a series of short animated videos explaining concepts such as Nations, Clans and Family Groups; Language; Affiliations; and Moiety (the principle of everything and everyone being made up of two halves which must come together in order to achieve harmony).
Accompanying each video are suggested discussion points and additional resources building on its themes.

Kinship also offers a series of community narratives where Aboriginal people tell stories of how cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings with doctors, lawyers and other professional practitioners they deal with regularly.

Kinship was developed by Lynette Riley, a senior lecturer based at the University's recently launched National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC). Ms Riley has been teaching kinship courses at universities and TAFEs and to, teachers, police, lawyers and judges for more than 25 years.

"This country was originally 500 nations, each with its own languages, social structures and modes of behaviour," says Ms Riley. "The last 200 years have seen many of our protocols dismissed as irrelevant, but for Aboriginal people they're still important.

"This module gives all Australians an introduction to the rich and varied cultures and traditions of its indigenous people. It provides information our students need to know if they are to work successfully with Aboriginal communities and teach future generations. Although designed for our students, almost anyone who visits the site will come away with a better understanding of our culture."

Kinship will be officially launched at a function celebrating key milestones for the NCCC this evening. The event will also mark the announcement of a partnership with Georgetown University's NCCC and the appointment of prominent Murrawarri member Sam Jeffries to chair the NCCC's Community Council, which will steer its direction and strategies.

The Kinship module has been funded by the Federal Government's Office for Learning and Teaching. It is being piloted at the University's Faculty of Education and Social Work this semester, with the aim of rolling it out more widely next year.

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