Two Left Feet: Dancing in Academe to the Rhythms of Neoliberal Discourse.

Colleen McGloin
Jeanette Stirling


Following the recommendations by the 2008 Bradley Report into higher education, cultural competence training has attracted attention and funding in Australian universities. This paper attempts to initiate a conversation about the implications of cultural competence in its current formation as it also attends to the tensions we experience as non-Indigenous educators teaching both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. We argue that current models of cultural competence are structured by the prevailing neoliberalist discourse that continues to regulate Australian universities, through language and practice. Drawing on the metaphor of dance, we locate the ‘steps’ that find us, awkwardly at times, attempting to balance the demands of university policy with the cultural diversity and multiple subjectivities of our students. We contend that from within the current framework of cultural competence, attempts to locate an ethical practice that speaks to the increasingly culturally diverse student cohorts in our classrooms are becoming increasingly complex.


Cultural competence; neoliberalism; Indigenous; teaching and learning

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