Developing cultural competence: Indigenous Australian culture as a framework for student preparation and development


Developing cultural competence requires an understanding of who you are, how you see the world and how your worldview and culture affects your interactions with people from other cultures. Using the framework of Australian Indigenous culture, students at The University of Sydney are encouraged to challenge their assumptions through a facilitated development seminar designed to prepare them for a mobility experience and enable them to more effectively engage with the diverse Sydney community.

This e-poster presentation will outline how cultural competence in our local Australian context can be used as a foundation to explore what it means to be culturally competent in students’ interactions overseas. The GCA Development Seminar introduces the idea of cultural competence through an Aboriginal cultural lens and encourages students to think critically about how these cultural differences and similarities may play out in their time as a student, on campus, or on an overseas experience. 

Learning objectives:

Attendees will:

* leave the session with insights into Australian Indigenous culture and values

* gain knowledge and tools for discussing cultural competence with students.

Take-home message:

The presentation will highlight existing collaboration between The University of Sydney’s Global Citizenship Award and the National Centre for Cultural Competence, in which exploring cultural competence does not necessarily require an internationally focused approach. Looking within our own countries, and the cultures that exist within our own borders, is an effective way to begin discussions of what cultural competence is and why it is important. Speakers will also share student feedback on the development seminar.

Key interest area: Mobility and learning abroad (MOB) 
Other key interest areas: Learning and teaching (L&T), Mobility and learning abroad (MOB), Students (STU) 


Ms Cara Bonnington
Mobility Manager, The University of Sydney, Australia

Cara Bonnington oversees a team working on outbound student exchange, short-term mobility programs, Australian Government mobility grants and international agreements. She and her team work closely with faculty to deliver outstanding mobility opportunities for students and drive the university towards its 50% outbound mobility target. Before joining The University of Sydney in 2015, Cara spent six years working in international education at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked closely with Alumni Relations, faculty and schools to develop internship placements for Penn’s International Internship Program, and advised for study abroad and exchange programs in the Middle East (including Turkey and Israel) and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has a Master of Science in Intercultural Communication from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

Ms Amy McHugh-Cole & Ms Cara Bonnington

Associate Lecturer, National Centre for Cultural Competence

The University of Sydney