Aboriginal Studies» open the printable major» search for more Areas of Study
This major provides students with the opportunity to study various aspects of Indigenous Peoples' experiences and perspectives with a focus on Indigenous histories, societies, leadership styles, cultures and issues to do with Aboriginal communities. The major also aims to increase Indigenous students' pride and confidence in their identity and culture.
Graduates with a major in Aboriginal Studies find employment in a wide range of government and non-government sectors in areas requiring specific skills in cross cultural awareness, as well as Aboriginal institutions concerned with land councils, medical services, legal services, cooperatives, and housing companies. Students should be aware that within this sector there are a number of positions which are Indigenous identified. There are also many positions within the government and non-government sectors, which may not be directly focused on Indigenous affairs, but require the transferable skills such as oral, written and interpersonal communication skills that are developed during the course. Post graduate study also opens a variety of opportunities to Aboriginal Studies graduates in the business, education, health, and legal sectors.
For more information about study in this area, explore the Areas of Study section on The Wollotuka Institute site.
A placement elective is available to Bachelor of Social Science students, which involves completing a social science research project with a relevant organisation.
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of Honours, Research Higher Degrees (RHD), Postgraduate Coursework and additional study options available. These options may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the future options following a degree with a major in Aboriginal Studies include:
After completing a degree there are a broad range of post graduate options available in a variety of fields which can allow you to specialise in a particular area of interest or build upon your existing knowledge base. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook.
The following list provides some example jobs available to graduates with a major in Aboriginal Studies. Some of these jobs will depend on the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, the combination of other majors and electives studied, while some may require further study.
- Aboriginal Cultural Educational Officer
- Community Development Worker
- Community Liaison Officer
- Community Project Officer
- Cultural Development Officer
- Cultural Heritage Officer
- Cultural Resource Manager
Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for someone with the skills gained from a major in Aboriginal Studies.
- Aged and Disability Officer
- Arts Administrator
- Diplomat / Foreign Affairs and Trade Officer
- Exhibitions Officer
- Graduate Programs - Public and Private Sectors
- Grants Officer
- Health Promotion Officer
- International Aid/Development Worker
- Juvenile Justice Officer
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Aboriginal Studies graduates find employment opportunities in small, medium or large organisations in varying industries. Below are some examples of organisations that may recruit those holding this major. Check employers' websites for sections titled Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs, or for similar sections. Some employers may also offer vacation work opportunities.
- ANZ (Australia)
- Attorney Generals Department (Australia)
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (Australia)
- Australian Customs Service (Australia)
- Australian Defence Force (International)
- Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Australia)
- Australian Museum (Australia)
- Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (International)
- Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Australia)
- Centrelink (Australia)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia)
- Department Foreign Affairs and Trade (International)
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia)
- Department of Education, Science and Training (Australia)
- Department of Environment and Heritage (Australia)
- Department of Finance and Deregulation (Australia)
- Department of Health and Ageing (Australia)
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Australia)
- Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia)
- Flinders Lane Gallery (Australia)
- Hunter Water (Australia)
- Macquarie Bank (Australia)
- Museum Victoria (Australia)
- National Archives of Australia (Australia)
- National Australia Bank (Australia)
- National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd (Australia)
- National Museum of Australia (Australia)
- NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (Australia)
- NSW Department of Health (Australia)
- NSW Local Government (Australia)
- NSW Police Recruitment (Australia)
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (Australia)
- Red Cross (Australia)
- The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
- Unilever (International)
- Westpac (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library Information and Resource Network (Australia)
- Aboriginal Studies Virtual Library (Australia)
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Social Justice (Australia)
- Australian Indigenous Health Net (Australia)
- Australian Indigenous Policy Online (Australia)
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (Australia)
- Local Government and Shires Association (Australia)
- National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Australia)
- NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (Australia)
- Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (Australia)
- Queensland Aboriginal Health Council (Australia)
- Umulliko Indigenous Higher Education Research Centre (Australia)
- Wollotuka Institute (Australia)
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduate Attributes and Employability
Aboriginal Professional Practice
Bachelor of Aboriginal Professional Practice graduates majoring in Aboriginal Studies will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates can expect to:
- Hold a deep understanding of Aboriginal culture, history and political life in Australia.
- Have capacity and skills to identify, challenge and develop policy, work and social practice which are culturally and ethically inclusive of diverse cultures.
- Developed a competitive ability to gain employment and work effectively, autonomously, responsively in a collaborative work environment in and across a broad area of vocational professional careers.
- Developed a genuine understanding and advocacy of social justice in the workforce and community.
- Clear demonstration of the capacity to work productively and in a culturally appropriate professional manner, in partnership with Indigenous communities at all levels.
- Hold and practice the academic theory and skills to effectively expand and communicate their understanding of themselves as rational beings and their relationship with the broader community in the area of Aboriginal Studies and social justice.
- Capacity and skills to contribute to the emerging contemporary scholarly discourse and practice in Aboriginal affairs.
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts graduates majoring in Aboriginal Studies will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates can expect to have developed:
- An in-depth understanding of at least one specialist area in the Bachelor of Arts
- The capacity for analytical thinking and for creative problem solving
- Information literacy: skills in locating, evaluating and using relevant information
- Effective and appropriate communication skills, written and oral, across a range of forms
- Ethical sensitivity, including an awareness of ethical issues and standards within disciplines
- Intercultural awareness: a respect for and understanding of cultures other than one's own
Bachelor of Social Science
Bachelor of Social Science graduates majoring in Aboriginal Studies will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates can expect to have developed:
- Advanced social research skills:
- In-depth knowledge and skills in the design and conduct of social research.
- The capacity to collect, organise, critically assess, and present information in written and oral forms.
- Specialist Social Science knowledge:
- Comprehensive knowledge of one or more specialist areas in the Social Sciences.
- Critical though and informed decision-making:
- The ability to structure and present logical arguments, critically analyse material and opinions, and make informed decisions.
- Effective management and teamwork skills:
- The ability to work autonomously and collaboratively, including effective leadership skills, teamwork, organisational and program management capabilities.
- High-level communication, interpersonal and presentation skills:
- Advanced level of written, oral, and interpersonal skills, including the effective use of information and communication technologies.
- Ethical and socio-cultural sensitivity:
- An understanding of ethical issues, standards, and public responsibility in relation to professional practice, including an appreciation of cultural diversity and sensitivity towards vulnerable and Indigenous groups.
You will recognise these attributes in the selection criteria listed in the following job ads.