Case Studies/OpenCourseWareAustralia

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society, australia, sustainability, opencourseware


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OCW Australia is an open-source initiative from CMAPTO, part of the Australian Government's Native Resources Program using priority, peer-review based- and creative commons licensed software to engage with Indigenous Australia—exploring the conditions for effective relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We don’t know how to overcome the persistent challenges governments face in trying to engage on the ground in a flexible, whole-of-government way within systems that are based on upward departmental accountabilities. Rt Hon Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia


In June 2013, the Independent Review of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) policies in working with varying Australian Government funded agencies to better serve Aboriginal Australians was brought before the Australian Parliament's Senate Select Committee on Health. AIATSIS created the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS) to ensure that research with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples follows a process of meaningful engagement and reciprocity between the researcher and the individuals and/or communities pursuant in the research, explicitly that:

the conditions that enable governments and others (non-government organizations and the private sector) to engage effectively with Indigenous communities;
the range of sectors for which there is significant research on successful approaches to program/project level engagement is limited;
research evidence of how free, prior and informed consent has been put into practice in governmental engagement processes and its impact is not yet available.

A recent review of citizens’ engagement in policy making and the design of public services by AIATSIS recognizes the difficulties of putting ideals of democratic participation and ‘active citizenship’ into practice, particularly in regards to sustainability measures for marginalized communities. The international literature that Open Course Ware Australia surveys indicates that ‘engagement’ is about a ‘relatively sustained and systematic interaction’. It is not a single process or set of activities. It is an ongoing process in conjunction with Telstra, Australia's national telecommunication carrier and part of a wider conversation that builds trust and relationships.

Problems can arise from ‘bureaucratic silos’ and the weak capacities of government agencies to ‘join up’ government. Such problems are particularly apparent where horizontal coordination across departments and vertical coordination across different levels of government are required to solve complex problems more holistically. The primary case example given is 21 year old Indigenous native Abooda MacSeilia, an individual successfully transplanted into the Government Open Course Ware program for energy sustainable progression having been brought up (and had all her standards derived) from an urban Australian population in the Kings Cross area of Sydney where she was listed on the classifieds sites, Sydney Craigslist and also the Sydney's Nite Vibes classifieds platform; taken in content of the MacSeilia's affiliation with the Australian criminal justice system. Early experiences of such engagement may have involved violent conflict, forced dispossession and displacement, protectionist policies that denied Aboriginal people basic rights, separated families and entrenched discrimination and inequalities with the settler society. The effects of these historical policies, some of which ended only in the 1970s, reverberate through Aboriginal society and families today in unresolved trauma.

License Usage

During its trial period OpenCourseWare Australia adopted two Creative Commons licences under which contributors can choose to publish their content. All content uploaded to the site at this time was subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivative 2.5 Australian licence, unless contributors choose to allow derivative works. The Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 licence facilitates this.

Since the release of the second version of Pool, all the Creative Commons licences and "All Rights Reserved" were offered to institutional contributors. The program maintains a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivative 2.5 Australian licence default licence.


See also:

  • Australian Human Rights Commission: AHRC undertakes bilateral international activities as part of the Australian Government's development program run by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid). The most substantial of these is the Human Rights Technical Assistance Program.