New policy recognises cultural load of First Nations community

Aboriginal flag on a flag pole

Murdoch University has established a cultural load allowance that sets a new precedent for recognising the cultural contribution of First Nations staff in the higher education sector.

Cultural load is the additional work borne by First Nations people in the workplace. It often goes unseen, with First Nations employees asked to provide cultural education and guidance to non-Indigenous colleagues.

In recognition of this, Murdoch University has established a new allowance to acknowledge this additional work and support our First Nations colleagues in the cultural contributions they make to our University community.

The Cultural Workload Allowance is a first for the Australian university sector.

The allowance provides up to a $8,944 per year to First Nations employees who are contributing cultural knowledge and perspectives beyond the scope of their role.

“I’m so proud that we’re able to offer this,” Pro Vice Chancellor First Nations Chanelle van den Berg said.

“Our First Nations staff are often sought out for cultural guidance and consultation in the course of their work, so it’s only fair that they get recognised and compensated for the important contribution they make.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks said the new allowance was an important recognition of the critical role First Nations staff play in the Murdoch community. 

We recognise that all First Nations employees contribute to cultural responsibilities within the University, and I value and commend that contribution."
Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks

“This new allowance simply seeks to formalise that recognition and set a precedent for how cultural load is considered within the workplace, especially in settings where there are few First Nations employees.”

Employees who undertake First Nations related work that is not a requirement of their role will be able to apply for the allowance to the Pro Vice Chancellor First Nations.

The University also provides an Indigenous language allowance to employees who are required to use an Indigenous language in the course of their employment.

“Our aim is to become the university of first choice for First Nations peoples, and a leader in embracing, promoting and benefiting from Indigenous Knowledges and cultural inclusivity,” Dr van den Berg said.

“Recognising cultural load is one of the commitments we are making that shows we are on our way to achieving this goal.”

Murdoch is proud to host the highest representation of First Nations students in Western Australia and recently graduated its 500th Aboriginal student.
Learn about Murdoch's commitment to being the university of first choice for First Nations peoples.
Posted on:

27 Mar 2024



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