Elder in Residence
Professor Simon Forrest
Professor Simon Forrest is Curtin’s Elder in Residence. Born and raised in Wadjuk country (Perth), Professor Forrest is Western Australia’s longest serving Aboriginal academic. In 2018 he was named NAIDOC Perth Male Elder of the Year for his dedication to improving awareness and education of Aboriginal culture.
Professor Forrest leads Curtin’s commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through professional development and curriculum programs for students and staff.
These University-wide programs develop an understanding of Aboriginal culture among students and staff and help to build a workforce, within Curtin, the wider community and industry, that values and displays Indigenous cultural capabilities.
‘Indigenising’ the curriculum
The Office of the Elder in Residence is actively ‘Indigenising’ the Curtin curriculum, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in teaching and learning activities across the University. This helps ensure students from all disciplines take with them into their professional and personal lives an understanding of the Australian historical context.
The Nyungar Culture and Identity Unit is a one-week intensive course led by the Elder in Residence. It allows students from various Curtin courses to travel to Nyungar Country to meet with elders and discover the history and heritage of the state’s Traditional Owners.
Beyond the University, people from around the globe can also learn about the language, culture and experiences of the Indigenous Peoples of south-west Western Australia through the Noongar Language and Culture MOOC.
Powerful cultural experiences for staff
Ngalang Katajininy (Our Learning) is a classroom session that introduces Curtin staff to Aboriginal history, values and worldview. This session is followed by Nidja Nyungar Boodja, an Indigenous On-Country Experience where staff visit significant Nyungar sites.
Professor Simon Forrest and Curtin staff on a visit to the Rabbit Proof Fence in 2018.