knowledge and cultureknowledge & culture

In the following audio and video extracts learners and trainers talk about the mutual importance of Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge and cultures.  Indigenous learners balance the responsibility of maintaining and strengthening Indigenous knowledge and culture with developing skills that provide opportunities for participation and progression in employment and training. Similarly, trainers have the responsibility of incorporating and valuing Indigenous perspectives in their training while building underpinning  and discipline knowledge and skills.

  • What the learners say
  • What the trainers say


IngridIngrid is a first-year-out teacher working at a school in an Indigenous community. Prior to completing a Bachelor of Education Ingrid worked for 13 years as an Aboriginal Islander Education Worker.  

Ingrid talks about both ways learning


DonDon is a qualified mechanic.  He has worked in this role for over 30 years in an Indigenous community.

Cecilia talks about culture & western learning


HeleanaHeleana is a trainee teacher and is enrolled in a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning. She previously worked in the areas of land management and eco-cultural tourism. She has completed the Certificates II and III in Spoken and Written English and is completing her final units in a tertiary preparation course concurrently with her teaching studies.

Heleana talks about living in two worlds

Heleana talks about Western vs Indigenous approaches to education

Heleana talks about the right time for training

Heleana talks about learning from the learners

Heleana talks about respecting culture


JoelJoel is a work-based apprentice at a regional university campus. He is currently enrolled in Certificate III in Business and is working in an office environment. He has previously completed Certificate III in Music and Certificate in Commercial Cookery

Joel talks about his experience of a segregated curriculum in his high school education

Joel talks about support & inclusive curricula

Joel talks about both ways learning

Joel talks about Indigenous cooking

Joel talks about culture & curriculum

Joel talks about cultural awareness & relationships


VictorVictor is a ranger supervisor in an Indigenous community. He has previously completed Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management.

Victor talks about cultural learning to keep culture strong

Victor talks about both ways learning

Victor talks about coping with a cyclone as an example of Indigenous knowledge

Victor talks about training in the bush

Victor talks about the importance of both-ways learning


IvanIvan is a ranger in an Indigenous community. He is currently enrolled in Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management.

Ivan talks about both ways learning

Ivan talks about developing reading & writing skills


MaritaMarita is enrolled in Certificate II in Spoken and Written English. She lives in an Indigenous community and periodically travels to a regional centre where her course is delivered in intensive study blocks.

Marita talks about the importance of ceremony



Michael is a VET lecturer in Conservation & Land Management. He has extensive experience working with and training Indigenous rangers.

Michael talks about recognising existing skills

Michael talks about teaching new concepts


DebbieDebbie is the workplace supervisor and trainer in a textile art business in an Indigenous community.

Debbie talks about no one way

Debbie talks about two way learning


AndreeAndree is the workplace supervisor and trainer in horticulture at the nursery in an Indigenous community.

Andree talks about two way learning


FredFred is a VET trainer. He delivers Certificate I in Work Preparation in Indigenous communities. Most training is conducted in the workplace.

Fred talks about cultural awareness


Allen MurphyAllen is a musician and music producer as well as a VET trainer in music. He has worked and taught in Indigenous communities for many years.  

Allen talks about navigating the cultural landscape


BarryBarry is a VET trainer in Indigenous Education Work. He delivers training in the workplace in an Indigenous community.  

Barry talks about both ways learning

Barry talks about how living conditions impact on culture and on training





Strategies for trainers:

Express interest and openness in learning about indigenous ways of life, living and culture through your words and actions

Make sure your body language reflects your words

Develop your own cultural awareness and provide opportunities for learners to do so as well by accessing formal training and engaging in informal cross cultural encounters

Integrate cultural awareness into your course, and provide open sessions where questions to do with culture and identity can be discussed and debated

Respect the views and cultural differences of others

Incorporate strategies to build the underpinning skills of English language, literacy and numeracy throughout training. These core skills are fundamental for learners to acquire knowledge in vocational education and training courses

Acknowledge indigenous knowledge and perspectives in your training alongside western knowledge and skills

Set up reverse learning situations which allow learners to teach the trainer and each other what they know about a topic

Find out about ceremonies and cultural practices that may impact on your students. Be aware that these may affect participation and attendance in the workplace and in training

Develop and teach inclusive curricula that provide opportunities for all learners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to find out about Indigenous history, culture, ideas, practices and issues

Find out about the points of difference in your subject or discipline area between non-Indigenous approaches and Indigenous traditional and contemporary ways of knowing about that discipline. Be prepared to pinpoint and discuss those points of difference

Find out what the learners already know and build on their existing knowledge and skills

Select training locations carefully in recognition that knowledge can be situated in a place and that the location of training can assist in the creation of knowledge and understanding

Convey knew concepts and knowledge using examples and analogies

Incorporate teamwork activities as a key part of your teaching and learning program

Use different media to get your message across. If one approach doesn't work, try something else

When working with learners older than yourself, show respect by asking their permission to sit with them and to start training with them