Ways I integrate Indigenous perspectives into my practice
I think the most important way to is to listen to the First Nations voices in your own staff, field of research or collegial or personal networks. White pioneering is such a danger, especially for academics who are so eager to help and whose identity is tied up with supporting change. We also have access to First Nations led institutional resources at QUT – the Carumba Institute, the Oodgeroo Unit and some of the most extraordinary First Nations academics. In my School of Creative Practice, we have one of the most gifted digital media artists in Australia – Dr Leah King-Smith who is our Indigenous Lead and of course Professor Wesley Enoch – who is a nationally recognised thought leader.
Secondly, understand the field is changing rapidly. In my field of performance studies and theatre, there has been this once-in-a generation cultural resurgence, so assumptions or ideas that were current even three years ago have been superseded, joyfully, by a wave of new thinkers and theatre repertory.
Thirdly, try to build relationships and to leave time to consult and to build the pedagogical approaches with your teaching practice. For example, I have a module in my Unit, KTB217 Story and Performance, on Oral Storytelling, that is offered first up in the Unit and introduces, honours and contextualises traditions of First Nations oral storytelling before we move onto written forms of story (playwrighting and writing for live audiences). When I was developing the Unit, I sought advice from the Oodgeroo Unit about appropriate First Nations knowledge frameworks; and then again with the Carumba Institute as part of AFHEA (Indigenous) Fellowship process and shaped the curriculum and changed it on advice from staff in both those areas. I have consistently employed First Nations tutors and lectures and where possible, if advice has been offered, I have changed and re-shaped the Unit to reflect that advice. I think being in constant dialogue with First Nations practitioners and colleagues, reciprocally, offering support as well as asking for advice, that is the way we move forward together.