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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Cultural Competence - Aboriginal Sydney by The University of Sydney

266 ratings

About the Course

This course explores some of the key themes and capabilities of cultural competence by exploring Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney. Australia was ‘claimed’ for the British Crown in 1770, by Captain James Cook, but the invasion began in earnest when the First Fleet of British arrived in 1788 and established a penal colony in Sydney. As a consequence Sydney is a city rich in diverse pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary sites of significance to Aboriginal peoples. Too often though our perceptions about Aboriginal peoples consign them to an ancient past or perpetuates stereotypical imaginations that Aboriginal peoples live in remote communities (Hinkson, 2010). At the heart of this MOOC is the theme that Sovereignty was never ceded and Sydney always was and always will be Aboriginal Land. Despite this the Aboriginal presence in the city is often invisible to non-Aboriginal eyes. This course aims to bring to light marginalised narratives of Aboriginal presence in this space. To understand hidden and marginalised narratives and experiences it is necessary to develop cultural competence capabilities. Key elements of practicing cultural competence include being able to understand and interrogate context, which in the case of Sydney includes not only learning about the peoples, places and histories of Aboriginal Sydney but to also understand issues about how knowledge is created and how dominant narratives can exclude diverse knowledges and experiences. Course learning outcomes 1. Develop knowledge about cultural competence capabilities. 2. Develop a deeper and multi-layered knowledge and understanding about Aboriginal peoples, cultures and places in Sydney. 3. Develop a greater understanding of how history, cultures and places are represented, contested and interpreted and how that relates to their own context. Acknowledgement of Country We acknowledge that this course was developed on the land of the Gadigal Peoples of the Eora nation. We pay our respect to the Traditional Owners of this land and acknowledge that the land that the University of Sydney was built on has been a place of learning for many thousands of years....

Top reviews


Jun 3, 2018

A valuable and hugely informative course. I am new to Australia and this course has helped me to understand many of the complex issues to do with the land's identity; past, present and future.


Jul 15, 2017

A fantastic and vital course. Lectures are succinct and easily digestible, with beautifully filmed and edited interviews providing a range of expert insights on the subject. Thank you!

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1 - 25 of 74 Reviews for Cultural Competence - Aboriginal Sydney

By Catherine H

Dec 22, 2018

I was pretty disappointed with this class. I really wanted to learn more about the Aboriginal culture, philosophies, and just about the way of life of these people (ie spiritually, family structures, migration, etc.). This class is more centered around how the native people, today, are living in society, and how they combated discrimination throughout their lives. It all really focuses on post-colonial contact.

By David H

Dec 27, 2017

I found in this course everything I was hoping for. It was presented in an easy to follow format and ran together very well. Being from Canada and having such similar issues with our Indigenous Peoples I wanted to see if your country was the same after being colonized by the British and that has been most definitely confirmed. To see two regions on this Earth of ours and thousands of miles apart it makes one stand up and take notice as to how the Europeans operated and conquered Land and all the vast resources for wealth and power was all it was about. Now the tide has turned and the Authorities can no longer ignore issues as everything going on has worldwide attention and more and more people want to know.

By Sandra W

May 27, 2020

This was an extremely interesting course and brought into focus many things about our first people of which I was only vaguely aware. The readings were well chosen to highlight the various themes and reinforced by the videos which featured pertinent oral history.

Module Six especially made me realise the struggles Indigenous People have suffered. These travails are still happening.

Recently, Rio Tinto destroyed an important First People’s cultural site estimated to be 46,000 years old and then ironically ‘Sorry Day” was celebrated. The view expressed by Jenny Coe Munro was correct - the government talks a good story but nothing changes.

By Annette v H

Dec 31, 2017

This course gives a very diverse insight in Aboriginal Sydney. I particularly enjoyed the fact that most people speaking in the course are experts by experience, telling their own particular, very interesting stories. The readings support the very diverse range of subjects and were well doable in a week (for me anyway). The assignments made me think about my own environment and its meanings, which made the course very inclusive- it is not only about a far away country and an alien people but can be applied to all of us. I would like to compliment the designers of the course on this specific aspect. Thank you!

By Lauren R

Jun 25, 2017

As a British citizen who has lived in Sydney for three years, this course was educational, thought provoking and humbling. I am extremely pleased to have had the opportuntity to learn more about the city and country I've decided to make a home in, and now feel like I have a stronger connection to the country and it's people - whichever walk of life they come from. I cannot wait to continue on this journey of discovery and will continue to educate myself on the treatment and experiences of indigenous Australians.

By Sébastien H

Mar 28, 2021

To me, it was short, new but so interesting ! By the way, you should create others MOOCS on the same topic, exploring the different ways of life of the others Aboriginals peoples and Torres Strait Islanders all around Australia and make a real certificate with all the MOOCS completed.


May 23, 2021

This course provides an introduction to colonial and contemporary issues which Aboriginal Australians face today (visibility, displacement, etc), while providing a view to look at its 60,000 year history afresh. It is intended to provide anyone to consider their First Nations role in shaping their land today. I can see this course being used as a short course before a semester where a student will be working with Indigenous Australians.

Those looking for an introduction to Australian Indigenous culture will be left wanting more, as it doesn't focus on any understanding of even Aboriginal Sydney culture. The reasoning why hidden in the videos and readings is for the student to reach out and speak to Indigenous people (either directly, or via a tour) and to understand them on their terms, but it is not part of the course structure. (I also believe USyd has a series of short videos called the Kinship Module which provide an overview of traditional Aboriginal kinship structures)

By John H

Sep 13, 2021

This course, developed by the University of Sydney, potentially outstanding and fairly solid in terms of learning design, might be improved in two ways: ensuring that all hyperlinked resources (readings) work and by carefully reviewing the accuracy of some video content that might be considered as inaccurate in relation to some neighbouring Aboriginal Nations.

Readings/links that do not function: Week 1 - NSW Department of Health (2004); Week 2 - Karskeus (2011); Week 3 - Gilbert (1988); Week 4 - Smith (2009) & Stolen Generations Testimonial Foundation (2017); Week 5 - Attenborough (2009) & Troy and Walsh (2009); and Week 6 - Aboriginal Legal Service & Taffe (2014).

By Marco G

Aug 31, 2022

Thank you. A very well presented course that opened my eyes to the cultural practices of Aboriginal people in Australia. It was encouraging to see the tenacity and fortitude demonstrated by leaders and I am hopeful that change within government and society is underway.

By Joy S

Feb 19, 2018

Not sure I believe a very caucasian looking "aborigine" got picked on in school.

By anthony h

Nov 14, 2020

I found the Course invaluable in its teachings and I would recommend the course without hesitation to any person who wanted to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Straight Culture. I can not impress upon you the amount of Knowledge and respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island People I have through doing this course and the assistance and encouragement I was given. This is not the end of my journey but just the beginning. My warmest wishes to everyone who made this course available and thank you again. Anthony Henderson.

By Christine K

Mar 20, 2021

This course is essential for understanding the impact of invasion on the Aboriginal peoples of the Sydney region. It provides historical context, describes sites of cultural and spiritual significance, explains the activist movements of the past and those within the arts and community activist organisatons currently. There is a range of interviews, video clips and readings to expand existing knowledge, and plenty more to build upon one's own responsibilities for action to justice. Always was. Always will be.

By Pierre M

Oct 1, 2021

Exposés très intéressant voire bouleversant apportant paradoxalement une vision de renaissance de ces cultures!!! mais même si c'est probablement représentatif de l'état de la culture Aborigène, il serait intéressant d'avoir une vision plus large des autres régions et cultures Aborigène de tout le continent Australien... a l'image des Natifs Inuit Métis nord Américains …. chaque culture nous enrichi d'une autre vision ....



By Sharon S

Aug 18, 2022

This course is usefully well designed. The learning exercises and assessments are thought provoking and some are eye opening. I very much appreciate the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal cultural competency from people in the community. Also appreciate being able to complete this certificate online, self-paced. Bonus that the certificate is from University of Sydney.

By Jaidee X A E

Aug 31, 2021

This was an excellent course, easy to study and allowed me to learn more about the Aboriginal people of Sydney since before colonization, their history, their struggles, their achievements with the voice of the Aboriginals themselves and the commitment they have to contemporary Aborigines, his activism and leadership and also has a very good bibliography.

By kary123enator

Feb 15, 2022

One of the best courses at coursera.Simply awesome.The explanation and the videos were so interesting.This is also a very important course to bring awareness about the plight of Aboriginals and Torres strait Islanders of Australia.This course must be promoted to the highest level and those who have interest in this field must definitely do this course.

By Sue R

Oct 3, 2020

I expected just to learn about first nation peoples in Australia, but actually via the assessments I also learnt a great deal about British history, and about new cultures settling in my region of the UK. I found out new information about new settlers and their emerging cultural infrastructure in my town. A very thought provoking course, many thanks.

By Greer

Aug 22, 2017

This is a wonderful course and a valuable catalogue of some incredible knowledge and individuals who have been at the forefront of history and social change. The richness of contemporary aboriginal Sydney has inspired me to explore my local community, its history and history of social change. Thank you for putting this together

By Maya S

Mar 20, 2021

This Course was highly enjoyable. The content and the speakers were clear and informative, and the assignments were very relevant. This made me reflect deeply on how important it is for me to become involved in the struggle for rights and recognition of Aboriginal people. Thank you!

By Jody K

Mar 31, 2021

I enjoyed every module of this course and would highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in first nations people, colonisation and resilience, truth and impacts of generational trauma.

It would be wonderful to see this course for all the states and territories of Australia

By Hannah F

May 24, 2020

Well constructed course with thoughtful lessons and themes. Really enjoyed getting to know more about Sydney, my adopted city, and the incredible history and culture, particularly in my area of the Inner West. Thanks for a great course, will recommend to others!

By Loretta B

Mar 28, 2020

Loved this course, which I started during its first iteration. Highly recommend for those seeking to understand colonization and indigenous impacts, in Australia but also globally since so many harmful practices were already “perfected” in the Americas.

By Jess M

Mar 27, 2018

This was a great course, really valuable, insightful and important. Thanks so much for making this material available, we completed as a group of colleagues and all took a lot from it. I will definitely recommend it to others to complete.


Oct 7, 2017

Very interesting approach to examining the urban Aboriginal community with lots of input from people with diverse experience. Focussed but comprehensive; an extensive reading list offers the chance to broaden each module if desired.