Cross Cultural Awareness


Indigenous communities have a holistic view of their world, which incorporates the vital link between Land, Language and Culture.  This view is significantly different from what is considered the norm in western society.  Many academics, over the years, have recognised and noted its success in passing on information accurately for centuries.  Solving the complex problems of to-day’s society requires consideration of all the information and all the strategies and perhaps it is time for schools, employers, educators and other institutions to step back from the traditional academic approach and consider the advantages of another traditional approach – the holistic one.

Indigenous culture reflects an oral as opposed to written tradition; it relies largely on observation; it is closely aligned to nature and the environment – with particular emphasis on cycles and patterns and the effect each has on the other; and of course it is based on an undeniable link between Land, Language and Culture.

Ingan’s cross cultural programs address the holistic perspective which is the Indigenous worldview.  Let us assist you on the road to understanding today!  

All enquiries please contact Ingan Education & Training on 1300 728 067 or Contact Us!

Western Thinking

There is a significant difference between the western and indigenous approaches to the acquisition and application of knowledge (Figure 1).  Western thinking generally adopts a holistic approach to the wider issues, while its approach in more localised issues is compartmentalised.  The end result of this is that most information in schools and other institutions – whether it be oral or written – is organised and presented in a way that reflects this.

(Figure 1)

Indigenous Thinking

On the other hand, largely because of the people’s dependence on the spoken word and observation for sharing knowledge about their own world, the Indigenous approach is quite the opposite.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people look at the whole picture and identify relationships and links within it, whereas their western counterparts often focus on the detail of the individual parts without considering their possible interaction with others.  (Figure 2).  This apparent conflict can be confusing and frustrating for all those involved in sharing the knowledge.

(Figure 2)

The Holistic Planning & Teaching framework

Dr Ernie Grant

Ernie is and Elder of the Jirrbal people.  He was born and raised in the Rainforest and is a passionate supporter of the forest and its people.

Ernie is in great demand as a speaker and teacher about the cultural values of Aboriginal people.

He is recognised as an outstanding researcher into Aboriginal cultural heritage and is a great advocate of enhancing the status of local Aboriginal people through the sharing of culture with visitors and locals alike.

"Uncle" as he is so affectionately called by the wider community was born in Murray Upper in Far North Queensland in 1935 when Aboriginal children were still barred from state schools. 

When Ernie was nine years old he was allowed to enrol at Murray Upper State School which was struggling for numbers to stay open. After leaving school he worked as a timbergetter and gained his private pilot's licence. In 1963, his life took a different direction with the arrival in Tully of British linguist (now Professor) Bob Dixon. 

Ernie convinced elders to work with Bob to record, document and analyse the Jirrbal language and is still working to keep the language alive today. Taking a role as a cultural research officer with Education Queensland, Ernie helped to introduce the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curriculum to State high schools and his educational philosophy and framework has had an impact all over Australia. He is "one of the most inspiring of educators [who] has helped the education system discover the Aboriginal voice" (Jeff Mc Mullen, 2010). Ernie's outstanding and tireless contribution to school and higher education was recognized in 2010 with an honorary Doctorate from James Cook University.

Jeff McMullen

Quote:  "No matter how much you may already know Ernie Grant has a way of opening your eyes and leaving you see hidden and almost forgotten beauty in this Land and its most ancient peoples. What you learn here will stay with you wherever you walk in the future.

Deepening you understanding of Aboriginal Culture will allow you to appreciate the changes in this country and the longer timelines of its history.  A little solitude in this rainforest and you will feel stronger about the work that remains to be done"

A recent DVD has been created by ISSU (Indigenous Schooling Support Unit – Cairns) if you wish to purchase your own personal copy of the DVD please CLICK HERE.

Our Cultural Awareness programs consists of 2 independent workshops which can also be tailored to your specific needs. They are designed to promote and educate you and your staff about Indigenous peoples and the environment that they live in. It also creates and promotes understanding and awareness unlike any other cultural awareness workshop.