Graduate psychologists are sensitive to the fact that they work in a very diverse society, and now more than ever, there is a real hunger for change. Embedding Indigenous knowledges and ensuring Indigenous participation in the psychology field is one of many important steps we can take to change this. According to Professor Pat Dudgeon, team leader of the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP), the discipline is responding to change enthusiastically and positively.

In order to foster cultural responsiveness, all psychologists need to be exposed to a diverse array of cultures and that process can start in the lecture room. Professor Dudgeon, psychologist and key contributor to the upcoming edition of Burton’s Psychology, explains how university educators can incorporate Australian Indigenous Psychology into their curriculum.

Understanding that Indigenous Psychology is different to cross-cultural psychology

There is a great philosophical difference between the two disciplines of cross-cultural psychology and Indigenous Psychology. Professor Dudgeon explains, “Cross-cultural psychology is still very much situated in the Western paradigm. Indigenous Psychology is about challenging the Western construct and ensuring that local Indigenous people are supported in developing their own knowledges, their own realities, and their own therapies.”

Indigenous Psychology takes a de-colonial or anti-colonial standpoint – one that holds strong the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Professor Dudgeon continues,

“If you’re teaching Indigenous Psychology, you have to commit to a range of different philosophical assumptions like self-determination, valuing the Indigenous voice and presence, and be committed to working closely with Indigenous people.”

It truly calls for deep reflection by non-Indigenous academics. Professor Dudgeon reminds us, “non-Indigenous people need to be aware of their own Whiteness and the dominant society they are part of.” The more we can recognise that we are all situated in social, historical and cultural spaces, the more we can get to the crux of what needs to be taught.