Asia Pacific Journal of Education
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Academics of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent are few in number but play a vital role in Australian university teaching. In addition to teaching both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, they interact with academic colleagues in a context where pressures to “Indigenize” Australian curricula and increase Indigenous enrolments are growing. In this article, we will draw on our nation-wide research with Indigenous academics to further explore this under-researched area of Australian university teaching, and the highs and lows of how Indigenous teachers experience their roles. Our findings reveal that for our Indigenous colleagues, sources of personal and professional satisfaction – as well as stress – appear qualitatively different from those commonly associated with academic work. Of particular concern are the findings in relation to issues of cultural difference on our campuses, played out in the ways Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff and students interact daily. Counterbalancing this potential negativity is the strong, indeed inspiring, commitment on the part of our Indigenous academic participants to the educational futures of their students, and thus, to the futures of Indigenous communities across Australia. The findings raise some thought-provoking questions for individuals and institutions in the higher education systems of our region, and perhaps beyond.