Course Title: Applied Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Applied Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples

Credit Points: 12

Terms

Course Code

Campus

Career

School

Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)

HUSO2295

City Campus

Postgraduate

360H Education

Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2011

HUSO2295

City Campus

Postgraduate

360H Education

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2012

HUSO2295

City Campus

Postgraduate

365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2019

HUSO2295

City Campus

Postgraduate

365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2014

HUSO2301

City Campus

Undergraduate

360H Education

Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2011

HUSO2301

City Campus

Undergraduate

360H Education

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2012

HUSO2301

City Campus

Undergraduate

365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face

Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2019

HUSO2301

City Campus

Undergraduate

365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2014

Course Coordinator: Professor Rob Watts

Course Coordinator Phone: 0417 556 751

Course Coordinator Email: rob.watts@rmit.edu.au

Course Coordinator Location: 37.4.14

Course Coordinator Availability: Email for appointment


Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

None


Course Description

Welcome to this course. This course will enable you to develop a basic understanding of indigenous peoples and human rights in contemporary Australia. It involves an exploration both of what an indigenous person might experience in their daily interactions with ‘mainstream’ Australian society, as well as of ways indigenous people are represented in Australia.  This will require you to engage in self-reflexive learning in order to ‘discover the Other’. 

The course will commence by introducing you the global processes of ‘Othering’ non-European peoples that developed and became highly influential during the age of European colonialism (ca.1492-1948).  Through an engagement with European colonialism you will be asked to consider the impact of racism and racial categories and hierarchies have had in framing ‘mainstream’ representations of Indigenous people in Australia -and elsewhere. 

We then introduce you to the current international legal and political framework of human rights that identifies the specific rights of Indigenous people. This will require an understanding especially of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007, the Declaration was the outcome of 25 years lobbying by indigenous political representatives.  You will be asked to consider what the political and legal implications of the Declaration might be and how we can best interpret these within the prevailing human rights framework.  Importantly, you will also be asked to consider why Australia, a country that represents itself internationally as a defender of human rights was (along with Canada, the United States and New Zealand) one of the fiercest opponents to the adoption of the Declaration. 

The course will then draw your attention to the ways in which the international human rights framework has informed local human rights discourse.  The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 introduced in 2008 will be discussed as an important break with Australian political tradition.  In the absence of a national bill of rights what can and does the Victorian Charter achieve?  You will be asked to consider the ability of legal instruments like bills of rights to  achieve political and social change.  You will also be asked to consider how the Victorian Charter might work  better  to uphold the human rights of Indigenous people who live in the State of Victoria.  The course will also ask you to survey the relationship between Declarations and Charter statements of human rights and the substantive experience of Indigenous peoples in contemporary Australia, Canada and the United States.  You will be asked to critically assess why proclamations of human rights in these contexts appear to be highly problematic in terms of protecting and extending the rights of Indigenous people in particular. 

The course will provide you with an opportunity to engage critically with the ‘human rights’ agenda so as to get more insight and deeper understanding of the difficulties that appear to be inherent in the application of human rights to the rights of Indigenous peoples. This will require you to consider the history of Indigenous experience in the contact period and to think about the impact of processes captured in categories like ‘colonialism’, ‘post-colonialism’, ‘racism’, ‘racial habitus’ and ‘agency’/’structure’. You will also be asked to consider the validity of human rights claims to be universal and equally applicable to all peoples regardless of race, culture, religion, etc.  You will be asked how ideas of human rights that originate in Anglo-American and Western Europe and embody the social and political values associated with the western democratic tradition can ever be compatible with the specific rights of Indigenous peoples grounded  in their own cultural and political traditions.  The course will end with a series of case studies in which provide examples of how Indigenous groups use a human rights agenda to empower their own communities and improve their daily lives.

 


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe something of the impact of colonisation of indigenous peoples in Australia (and other 'fourth world' countries, such as Canada, New Zealand and the United States);
  2. Identify, describe and critically evaluate the relevant human rights frameworks (like the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006) and the applicability of the human rights agendas in Australia to indigenous people;
  3. Identify and describe the needs, aspirations and achievements of indigenous people in Australia;
  4. Describe and reflect on the role of non-indigenous people in confronting racism and advancing indigenous interests in partnership with indigenous peoples by referring to a body of knowledge and practical experience;
  5. Demonstrate some insight into the complexities of professional practice in collaboration with indigenous communities.



Overview of Learning Activities

The course has been designed to include the following student learning experiences: workshops, selected reading and research work.

  • You will need to demonstrate familiarity with the course handbook and at a minimum have read the recommended core readings for each week’s program. 
  • You will need to attend the workshops that will involve a mixture of lectures and learning and activities. 
  • The workshops will enable you to engage with the relevant literature, public debates, and reflect on and discuss reading and lecture material.
  • Reflectively use some films/videos which explore specific topics as recommended in the course handbook;
  • Where possible engage with the community by attending events and cultural activities that will further inform and enhance  your insight and knowledge

 


Overview of Learning Resources

You will be given access to a wide range of resources through a Course Reader or core textbook and also will be able to access to a wide range of online learning tools and content for your course from the student portal, myRMIT, and RMIT Library resources. These resources will include book chapters, journal articles, media articles, lecture notes, bibliographies for supplementary reading, video, and links to external websites.


Overview of Assessment

  1. Research essay 50%
  2. Case Study 50%