(NAIITS Indigenous unit – open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants)

Students will learn about the myriad ways in which Christians from Europe have interacted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the earliest arrival of colonists to the present day. By examining primary and secondary historical sources, students will become familiar with four overlapping eras in the history of the country that is now called ‘Australia’: conflict and undeclared warfare; the establishment of missions and slave-camps; the long assimilationist period; the movement toward Indigenous self-determination as part of various attempts at covenant or treaty between First and subsequent peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ histories and perspectives are crucial to a range of key conversations in Australian society relating to social justice, public policy and national identity. The aim of this unit is to equip students with a broad global and comparative framework for considering the impact of Australian settler society and its interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures from the pre-colonial encounters to recent history.

Unit code: AH8002W

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: History

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary sources important to the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history to build an evidence-based historical and theological narratives or arguments.


Describe a range of factual knowledge of the histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in historical, political, and religious settings


Articulate the relationship of religion and politics in the development of historical and contemporary Australia and its impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples


Identify and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies relating to Australian Indigenous peoples over time and their experiences of Christianity and its denominations.


Face to Face: Lectures, Discussion groups Online: Reading comprehension quizzes, online discussions

Indicative Bibliography

  • Barry, Amanda, Joanna Cruickshank, and Andrew Brown-May, eds. Evangelists of Empire?: Missionaries in Colonial History. Vol. 18. UoM Custom Book Centre, 2011.
  • Boyce, James. God’s Own Country? The Anglican Church and Tasmanian Aborigines. Hobart: Anglicare Tasmania, 2001.
  • Brock, Peggy, Norman Etherington, Gareth Griffiths, and Jacqueline Van Gent. Indigenous Evangelists and Questions of Authority in the British Empire 1750-1940: First Fruits. Brill, 2015.
  • Brodie, Nick. The Vandemonian War: a secret history Britain’s Tasmania invasion. Richmond: Hardie Grant Books, 2017.
  • Broome, Richard. Aboriginal Australians: A history since 1788. Melbourne: Allen and Unwin, 2019.
  • Film: The Nightingale directed by Jennifer Kent (2018).
  • Finlay, Grant. ‘Good people always crackney in heaven’: Mythic conversations in lutruwita/Tasmania. Hobart: Fullers Publishing, 2019.
  • Harris, John. One Blood: 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity. A Story of Hope. Australians Together, 2013.
  • Maynard, John. Fight for liberty and freedom: the origins of Australian Aboriginal activism. Aboriginal Studies Press, 2007.
  • Mitchell, Jessie. In good faith?: governing Indigenous Australia through god, charity and empire, 1825-1855. ANU Press, 2011.
  • O'Brien, Karen. Petitioning for land: the petitions of First Peoples of modern British colonies. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
  • Presland, Gary. The Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Central Victoria. Melbourne: Victoria Museum Publishing, 2010.
  • Reynolds, Henry. The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia. 2nd Edition. Hawthorn, Victoria: Penguin, 1990.
  • Rintoul, Stuart. The Wailing: a National Black Oral History. Port Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1993.
  • Tatz, Colin. Australia’s Unthinkable Genocide. (Xlibris, 2017).
  • Van Toorn, Penny, and Penelope Van Toorn. Writing never arrives naked: Early Aboriginal cultures of writing in Australia. Aboriginal Studies Press, 2006.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Practical assessment

1000 20.0

Thematic project

1500 30.0

Research essay

3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 5 Feb, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-02-05 09:58:52 +1100