Exploring Australian Indigenous Studies

As an international student in Australia, you have a unique opportunity to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history.

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Two people learning about Aboriginal rock art from a guide. Credit Tourism Australia

Image credit: Tourism Australia

As an international student in Australia, you have a unique opportunity to learn about the world’s oldest continuous cultures through Australian Indigenous Studies.

Australian Indigenous Studies offer a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history. You can enrol in Australian Indigenous Studies at university, as a major, minor or as elective (optional) studies, or as part of a Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses.

As well as providing unique perspectives, Australian Indigenous Studies is an important part of professional and career development in many areas such as education, allied health, media, social welfare, community engagement and local government.

Areas of study  

Australian Indigenous Studies can include learning about the political struggle for racial equality, land rights, self-determination and heritage control.

Some of the other areas you may cover are:

  • Austalian Indigenous cultures and connections to land and waterways
  • the impact of colonisation on First Nations peoples
  • adaptation and resistance since the arrival of European settlers
  • literature, art and film
  • linguistics, and
  • landmark legal cases.

Unique perspectives and transferrable skills

Australian Indigenous Studies can give you valuable skills and insights to help prepare you for your career, such as:

  • Transferrable skills for working collaboratively across different cultures.
  • The ability to communicate in culturally responsive and sensitive ways.
  • Skills in critical analysis, research and teamwork.

Learning ‘on Country’

Some Australian Indigenous Studies courses offer the opportunity to learn ‘on Country’. This is where class learning takes place on the ancestral lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Learning on Country is a holistic experience that includes field visits, interactions with Indigenous Elders and engagement with the physical environment. It offers students a deeper understanding of connections to land, culture and heritage.

Other ways to learn about Australian Indigenous cultures

There are also many opportunities for you to expand your knowledge outside of the classroom. Museums, festivals and cultural tours offer immersive experiences for learning about Indigenous history and cultures firsthand.

Some education providers also offer these opportunities as part of their extracurricular programs, such as walking tours, art projects and free online courses.

Acknowledging and honouring Australian Indigenous cultures in the community

In Australia, there are significant events and practices that acknowledge and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

  • National Sorry Day takes place on 26 May each year. It is a day dedicated to acknowledging the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were taken from their families and communities, known as ‘The Stolen Generations’.  
  • National NAIDOC Week is held in the first week of July each year. The week-long event is a celebration of Indigenous cultures, history and achievements, with events held across Australia.
  • Acknowledgement of Country is a practice that recognises the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land before events, meetings and gatherings, including on campus.

Search for Indigenous Studies

Many degrees at Australian universities have embedded First Nations perspectives as core components especially in Education, Health, Law and Social Sciences fields.

Use our Course Search tool to enquire with an Australian education or training provider today, and find out about Indigenous Studies options in your chosen fields of study.