Course Title: Policy Making and Indigenous Peoples

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Policy Making and Indigenous Peoples

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr Joseph van Buuren

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 37. Floor 4

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course provides you with a critical introduction to the impact of policy regimes on Indigenous Australians and will provide comparative international analysis. The course will explore three key areas of policy regarding Indigenous people as these have developed historically. The course will also review how these policy areas operate in contemporary politics and society. These three areas include: Law, Land and Sovereignty; Culture and Identity; Social Control and Indigenous protest.

Through a series of workshops on specific policy areas, this course will provide you with a capacity to understand, navigate and work within the relationships between governments, service providers and Indigenous people. You will develop knowledge of the history and politics behind policy making for Indigenous people in Australia and overseas, and you will develop a skill set which may assist you to direct Indigenous policy in the public, private and community sectors.

The course will enable you to critically engage with the major Indigenous policy debates and issues, such as native title and land rights. It will also assist you to develop anti-racist and decolonising practices which support Indigenous perspectives in policy making. The course will further enhance your skills to critically analyse relevant international case studies and to introduce you to the global indigenous rights movement.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes: 


If you enrolled in MC216 Master of Public Policy or GD068 Graduate Diploma in Public Policy: 

PLO2: Make use of complex theories, diverse evidence and modes of reasoning, to extend and challenge knowledge and practice in policy and social innovation. 

PLO5: Use problem solving skills/methodologies to develop creative responses to contemporary social problems/policy issues. 


If you enrolled in MC223 Master of Justice and Criminology : 

PLO1: Use strategic, critical, creative, and analytical thinking to develop creative solutions to a range of dynamic problems associated with crime management and the justice system  

PLO2: Critically analyse, synthesise, and reflect on complex theories, principles, philosophies, and recent developments in the justice sector, both locally and globally, to extend and challenge knowledge and practice 

PLO4: Synthesise, rationalise, and communicate new scholarship and research to diverse professional and non-professional audiences 

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

  • CLO 1: Critically analyse past and present relationships between Indigenous peoples and governments in the colonial process to contextualise and interpret Indigenous policy
  • CLO 2: Explain and critique public policy processes, policy theory and policy making practice in relation to Indigenous peoples
  • CLO 3: Identify key ideas, perspectives and approaches in policy making practice that support and promote Indigenous rights
  • CLO 4: Critically examine, and prepare policy documents and policy research
  • CLO 5: Provide policy advice and analysis which is clear and coherent, evidence based and soundly argued.

Overview of Learning Activities

The course has been designed to include the following student learning experiences: lectures, experiential exercises, selected reading and practical work on policy analysis and critique and group presentations. You are expected to:

  • Become familiar with the course guide, and read and watch the recommended core readings/videos for each week’s workshop.
  • Attend workshops. The workshops are designed to be interactive and draw upon the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the student group. The workshops also provide a space for you and your fellow class members to work on your case study presentation. You are expected to attend all lectures and workshops.
  • View films/videos exploring specific topics as recommended in the course guide, or in the lectures and workshops, or by your lecturer and tutor.
  • Where possible engage with the broader Indigenous community by attending events and cultural activities that will further inform your knowledge.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. Weekly readings and additional materials, such as assessment guides, background material and documentaries, will be made available through the course site.   If this is the first course you have undertaken about Indigenous Australians at university the following resources will be useful before you start this course:

  • Neumeier, B. & Schaffer, K. (eds), (2014), Decolonizing the Landscape Indigenous Cultures in Australia, Editions Rodopi.
  • First Australians [documentary], dir: Rachel Perkins, (2008), Blackfella Films/Screen Australia – watch all 7 episodes, videos available online through the Library
  • Perkins, R., Langton., & Atkinson, W., First Australians [book], (2010), The Miegunyah Press, Carlton, Vic.
  The University Library has extensive resources for Indigenous Studies. The Library has produced subject guides that includes quality online and print resources for your studies. Please see the Indigenous Resources Library Guide.   The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarians.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes. Assessment may include:  

 Assessment task  Weighting   Linked Course learning outcomes
  1. Individual Case Study Presentation (PowerPoint and Audio)  20%   


3, CLO 4
 2. Indigenous Policy Research Paper  30% 


4, CLO 5
 3. Case Study Essay  50%  


3, CLO 4

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks and will be provided throughout the semester in class through individual and group feedback on practical exercises and by individual consultation.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.