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Murdoch University recognises cultural load of First Nations staff with new allowance policy

Callan Morse -

Western Australia’s Murdoch University has become Australia’s first tertiary institution to establish a cultural workload allowance.

The new allowance provides up to a $8,944 per year to First Nations employees at Murdoch who contribute cultural knowledge and perspectives beyond the scope of their role.

Murdoch University’s Pro Vice Chancellor First Nations, Chanelle van den Berg said she was proud of Murdoch’s achievement in offering the allowance.

“Our First Nations staff are often sought out for cultural guidance and consultation in the course of their work, so it’s only fair that they get recognised and compensated for the important contribution they make,” the Noongar woman said.

Murdoch says cultural load - the additional work borne by First Nations people in the workplace - often goes unseen, with First Nations employees asked to provide cultural education and guidance to non-Indigenous colleagues.

Murdoch University Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Deeks said the new allowance was an important recognition of the critical role First Nations staff play in the Murdoch community. 

"We recognise that all First Nations employees contribute to cultural responsibilities within the University, and I value and commend that contribution,” Professor Deeks said.

“This new allowance simply seeks to formalise that recognition and set a precedent for how cultural load is considered within the workplace, especially in settings where there are few First Nations employees.”

Murdoch employees who undertake First Nations-related work that is not a requirement of their role will be able to apply for the allowance to the Pro Vice Chancellor First Nations.

“Our aim is to become the university of first choice for First Nations peoples, and a leader in embracing, promoting and benefiting from Indigenous Knowledges and cultural inclusivity,” Dr van den Berg said.

“Recognising cultural load is one of the commitments we are making that shows we are on our way to achieving this goal.”

In addition to the cultural allowance, Murdoch University also provides an Indigenous language allowance to employees who are required to use an Indigenous language in the course of their employment.

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