Media contact

Denise Knight
0405 207 685

Following media reports today, the University rejects any notion that a resource for teachers on Indigenous terminology dictates the use of language or that it is designed to be politically correct.

The guide is not required reading for all students across the University – teachers can choose to include it as a resource for their class.

We always encourage students to form their own opinions so to suggest that such a guide would stifle open debate in any way is plainly wrong.

The guide does not mandate what language can be used. Rather, it uses a more appropriate/less appropriate format, providing a range of examples. This is an important distinction to make.

For example the guide suggests referring to Captain Cook as the first Englishman to map the continent’s East Coast is “more appropriate” than referring to his “discovery” of Australia. It says “most Aboriginal people find the use of the word ‘discovery’ offensive”.

Recognising the power of language, the terminology guide is designed as a resource to assist staff and students in describing Indigenous Australian peoples and their history and culture.

The University is committed to giving all our students a positive and inclusive learning experience and respecting and learning about Indigenous knowledge is integral to that.

Where concerns have been raised about the use of non-inclusive language and referencing, the guide has been welcomed as a valuable way to highlight the impact that language can have.

Terminology guides such as this are commonplace across universities and many public sector organisations and it is absolutely appropriate for students and staff to have such a resource available. 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor