- Charles Sturt research examines the strong commitment to social justice and teaching Indigenous cultural competency in its law course
- Research paper explains how this provides law students with authentic place-based learning opportunities, thus changing the traditional delivery of law education
- This allows academics and law students to explore contrasting worldviews with the local Indigenous community in a culturally safe space
Research at Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) explains how place-based learning opportunities with the local Wiradyuri Elders (pictured at top) are changing the traditional delivery of law education.
The research article ‘Connection to Country – Place-based learning initiatives embedded in the Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Laws’ by PhD candidate and lecturer in the Charles Sturt Centre for Law and Justice Ms Annette Gainsford (pictured left) was recently published in Legal Education Review.
Her research examines how connection with the local Wiradyuri Elders in Bathurst has given the Charles Sturt Centre for Law and Justice a significant advantage in exposure to wider Indigenous industry experts and organisations.
Ms Gainsford said, “The Centre for Law and Justice, through a strong commitment to social justice and the teaching of Indigenous cultural competency, provides law students with authentic place-based learning opportunities.
“These connections are supported and endorsed by the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders who have validated the cultural integrity of the academics within the University’s Centre for Law and Justice and the value of the work that they are undertaking.
“Charles Sturt is situated on the traditional lands of the Wiradyuri people in Bathurst NSW.
“The local Wiradyuri people continue to have a strong connection to Country where they continue to fight for the protection of their sacred sites and carry on the practices of their unique cultural traditions.
“Historical contests and the declaration of Martial Law in 1824 against the Bathurst Wiradyuri people have resulted in ongoing practices of injustices, and providing the context of the local Wiradyuri people’s tumultuous history with Western settlement is a key initiative for the newly-developed Bachelor of Laws course at Charles Sturt.
“Therefore, it is appropriate that the local Wiradyuri Elders and wider Wiradyuri community have the opportunity to share their historical and contemporary narratives through place-based learning initiatives embedded throughout the law curriculum.”
Ms Gainsford explained that these narratives are purposefully positioned to provide Indigenous perspectives to promote the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples, and cultural knowledge, and give voice to the contemporary situation for local Wiradyuri people while challenging the interface between Indigenous and Western Law.
“My published article is the first part of a research project that explores embedding Indigenous knowledges in higher education law curriculum, and describes the rationale and the development of embedding place-based Indigenous knowledges in the Charles Sturt law curriculum,” Ms Gainsford said.
“Place-based teaching and learning opportunities are acknowledged as a central element in meeting the University’s Indigenous Graduate Learning Outcomes and current national and international Indigenous education strategies.
“Collaborative communication with Indigenous Elders enables law students to explore local culture, traditions and histories, as well as contemporary issues relating to social justice and processes of reconciliation.
“The research article outlines how community partnerships and place-based learning have become a central component in the success of teaching Indigenous cultural competence across the law curriculum at Charles Sturt.”
This Charles Sturt initiative is forming new pathways and partnerships for local Wiradyuri people to work collaboratively with law academics and law students for mutually-beneficial outcomes.
The place-based learning opportunities provide an environment underpinned by shared dialogue bound by Indigenous cultural protocols and practices, enabling the exploration of both Indigenous and Western law, to explore legal concepts relating to Indigenous peoples and communities.This allows academics and law students to explore contrasting worldviews with the local Indigenous community in a culturally safe space, therefore changing the traditional delivery of law education.