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First Nations Council of Elders and Leaders (FNCEL): Pilot project report 2022

posted on 2024-04-12, 06:28 authored by Sonja AndersonSonja Anderson

As a multiplex organisation with diverse ambitions, aspirations and purposes, CQUniversity provides for the collective education and research needs of staff and students and meets the demands of engagement with external industry, government and community stakeholders. Inherent to these obligations is an associated and contemporary expectation of culturally diverse inclusion in all University activities. 

The CQUniversity’s Strategic Plan Central Queensland University (2019) includes a commitment to increased employment and education opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pathways to achieving this aspiration are outlined by the Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Strategy (2019-2021) and supported by Universities Australia Indigenous Strategies (2017-2022 & 2022-2025). These documents proport that to meet current cultural expectation, the organisation included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and knowledge in the University’s various landscapes: governance, research, education and engagement. 

Consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the purpose of obtaining strategic and culturally appropriate advice to support and guide policy, procedure and research, requires a mechanism and formal process. Commonly specialist committees guide university governance. The First Nations Council of Elders and Leaders (FNCEL) was established as a special committee under the governance structure of the University and was initially trialed as a pilot research project. This first iteration of the FNCEL was inaugurated under a Terms of Reference and functioned as a special committee made up of nine First Nations community-based members who sat for six consecutive formal monthly meetings. 

To evaluate the efficacy and veracity of the chosen model, two new policies were created with input from the members of the FNCEL: The Confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander /First Nations Identity Protocol and Engaging and Communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander/First Nation People Protocol, over the six-month trial. 

The pilot trial was conducted to explore the most beneficial paradigm of practice for the advisory group’s function. It also served as a first iteration of what is intended to become an established body for advising the University on the inclusion of First Nations culture and knowledge into the governance and management of the University. 

Primary data for the project was suppled and collated through interviews held with each of the nine members post meeting. Interviews led by the researcher were based on a series of questions, conducted online and recorded, with transcripts of the resultant recordings forming evidence for analysis. 

After examining, analysing and transforming data into overarching themes, and outlining the methodology and outcomes of testing the FNCEL model, the pilot project was deemed a successful foundation for a future iteration of the Council. FNCEL members felt their participation in the process and their cultural insight and contribution was valued and respected. They also expressed that their representative responsibilities on behalf of and in service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and stakeholder communities was fulfilled by the creation of two new policies for the University.

The new policies created by the pilot project iteration of the FNCEL have been approved by the University Management Committee and have been adopted into the suite of policies that support the governance of CQUniversity.


Indigenous Student Success Program (ISSP)


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Queensland

Open Access

  • Yes

Cultural Warning

This research output may contain the images, voices or names of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or First Nations people now deceased. We apologize for any distress that may occur.

Era Eligible

  • Yes