News and events

Past events

Teaching and curriculum design to support mental wellbeing panel discussion

Prof. Lisa Hanna Karen Stuart Sally Buchanan-Hagen Susie Macfarlane two outlines of student's heads and shoulders
Prof. Lisa Hanna
Dean of Students
Karen Stuart
Counselling and Psychological Support Services and Clinical Psychologist
Sally Buchanan-Hagen
Lecturer in Nursing
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Susie Macfarlane
Senior Lecturer
HealthPod manager
Tegan Whitten
DUSA Accessibility and Services Representative
-------- and --------
Tiarnan Cleary
DUSA President

As T2 gains momentum, we know we can draw on what we’ve learnt in T1 to manage ourselves and our students’ mental wellbeing better. The newly launched Deakin Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy gives us direction to how we can nurture the mental wellbeing of staff and students. We can also learn from each other about ways to teach, design curriculum and support each other in ways that are going to help us all to manage our tasks this trimester.

In this panel discussion, you heard from:

  • Professor Lisa Hanna, Dean of Students (Moderator)
  • Karen Stuart—on the Deakin Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy and what teaching and professional staff can do to help implement this
  • Sally Buchanan-Hagen—gave a ‘consumer advocate’ perspective of mental health and wellbeing as a student and staff member
  • Susie Macfarlane—on curriculum design and teaching practice to support mental health and wellbeing
  • Tegan Whitten and Tiarnan Cleary, who talked about students’ experience of mental health conditions and the ways curriculum and teaching strategies helped them to manage.

This event took place on Tuesday 4 August, 12-1:30 via Zoom

The slidepack and recordings for the event:


Video link:
Transcript: Teaching and curriculum design to support mental wellbeing panel discussion (DOCX, 54kb)

Inclusive teaching online

Barbie Panther Jaclyn Broadbent Peter Vuong Jo Elliott
A/Prof Barbie Panther
Director, Teaching Capability
A/Prof Jaclyn Broadbent
Teaching and Learning
School of Psychology
Peter Vuong
Teaching Scholar
Deakin Business School
A/Prof Jan West
School of Life and  Environmental Sciences
Dr Jo Elliott
Digital Learning Innovation
Brett Mclennan Naomi David Kim Koelmeyer Erica Adams  
Brett McLennan
Learning Analytics
Naomi David
Early Childhood Education
Kim Koelmeyer
5th year
BA-B Law student
Erica Adams
Recent graduate

This event took place on 7 April 12-1:30pm, 2020.

A panel of experienced academics, Deakin Learning Futures experts and students gave their take on the most effective, inclusive ways to teach online in a lively Q and A style Inclusive education community of practice Zoom discussion just before Easter. Covid-19 conditions were on the minds of the 95 staff who attended, well aware of the heightened importance of using inclusive methods to ensure their students’ learning despite the financial difficulties; noisy, crowded, chaotic study environments; poor internet connections and computers; heightened mental health conditions and other challenges many of them are facing.

The panel responded to pre-posted questions on:

  • How to get to know your students and manage disclosure online
  • What the main accessibility issues are, and how to manage them
  • How to manage online group work fairly
  • Different ways to engage online, and whether lurking is OK
  • Ways to assess inclusively online.

Summary: Inclusive teaching online summary (DOCX 24KB)


Video link:

Chat: Inclusive teaching online chat (DOCX 30KB)

Transcript: Inclusive teaching online transcript (DOCX 65KB)

Respectful communication in learning contexts panel discussion

Respectful communication in learning contexts panel discussion

Tom Molyneux (Moderator), Coordinator Indigenous Inclusion, Diversity & Inclusion Dr Kate Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Disability & Inclusion, Health Dr Marilyn Stendera,
Lecturer in Philosophy,
Arts & Education
Kelly Menzel, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Institute of Koorie Education Charlie Osborne, Social Work Student Roberto Martin,
Law and Criminology Student

This event took place on 20 February, 2020.



Transcript: Respectful communication in learning contexts panel discussion (DOCX 50KB)

Summary prepared by Dr Ben Whitburn

In this Community of Practice event, with thanks to a panel of teachers and students from across Deakin University, we explored how language, and the way we use it to communicate, plays a critical role in shaping and reflecting our thoughts, beliefs and feelings. It should come as no surprise that the way in which we refer to people affects the way they are regarded by others and indeed, the ways in which they feel about themselves. Used over and over again, a convenient phrase is no longer an attempt to describe a person and their particular characteristics — it can easily become a disparaging and exclusionary definition, although this might not be immediately obvious. In this sense, we might put our minds to thinking about how using particular languages may constitute the act of naming or creating a problem, or perhaps a resolution.

We are grateful to the panellists for such a rich and diverse conversation about respectful communication as an important part of inclusion in education. We might argue that an explicit appreciation of language can help to inform and transform our pedagogy at Deakin, and on that basis it is imperative we emphasise and model affirmative ways of interaction using purposeful language, both in face-to-face contexts and on the cloud. Underlying much of the contributions of each of the panellists have been unique personal experiences that highlight how this might be enacted. Distilling what was discussed in the panel develops a couple of core themes (not attributed to any one individual panellist):

  1. The complexities of disclosure:
  • We need to nurture environments of teaching and learning, of recreation and as well of transition, which are safe for disclosing (while remaining aware that people don't have to disclose and may not want to);
  • Moderating risks associated with disclosing difference is important – creating constructive spaces of trust can facilitate supportive environments in which to disclose;
  • When communication in the classroom goes awry, those on the periphery are first to feel excluded. Although they may not have disclosed any vulnerabilities, it does not mean they are not in our classrooms.
  1. Respectful communication:
  • Teachers ought not dictate to students how to use respectful language, appropriate identifiers and gender pronouns, but provide ways for exploring the consequences of disrespectful language;
  • Challenging negative assumptions displayed through particular language people may use is significant to reducing instances of discomfort, discrimination, racism, and exclusion;
  • Gender pronouns belong to all of us – not just the person who may appear gender diverse. Use naming conventions that support this view;
  • Some topics of learning can be Classes must not be competitive and platforms for battles of wit, but explicitly collaborative and dialogical;
  • Safe spaces imply an in/outside. It is important to actively connect with structures external to spaces (i.e. extend inclusive practices/training to providers of work integrated learning, professional learning, etc);

Here's what teachers and students who sat on the panel brought to the discussion (again not attributed to any one panellist):

What teachers do to promote respectful communication

  • Avoid shaming students by dictating language use to them, but develop activities for exploring the consequences of disrespectful communication and language;
  • Disclose something about themselves, or at least describe some of the complexities they encounter in disclosing something about themselves;
  • Yarning – create dialogue to introduce a group conversation, the content of a session, and the practice being taught.

Making respectful classrooms

  • Attend to student wellbeing first and foremost over content;
  • Step back from definitive truth finding. Instead, a dialogic setting facilitates all to speak and share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Intervene to create spaces of trust – provide a safety net to support students to feel supported;
  • Model to students how to respond positively to different types of views;
  • Lay the groundwork at the start of teaching period – students develop guidelines about inclusive discussions upon which all agree. Such a protocol can promote learning new skills, developing capabilities to discuss points, and to structure arguments.

What students find helps

  • Teachers introducing themselves with their own gender pronouns;
  • Teachers providing a synopsis about knowledge/themes that are under discussion, providing the opportunity for students to leave beforehand if they feel uncomfortable;
  • Teachers following up with individuals by making themselves available to students outside classes;
  • Teachers having a flexible understanding of grouping, whereby they can intervene and change group members if students report discomfort.

Freedom of speech

Discussion surrounding freedom of speech has been extensive over the last couple of years. And while freedom of speech may broadly be a right worthy of keeping in Australia, it is important we don't confuse freedom of speech with a right to prejudice. Underpinning what we do at the university is an activism of deference, in which inclusive language is not reduced to identity politics, but affirmation and equity. This is just as important in traditional face-to-face contexts as it is on the cloud and blended learning.

Extra resources

There are a number of resources to support members of the public to draw on inclusive language as part of their day-to-day practice, and we include a select few below. This is not an exhaustive list:

Further information

For further information please contact Diversity and Inclusion

Retaining, supporting and understanding first-in-family students: research and practical strategies for academic ‘success’

Prof. Sara O'Shea head shot

Prof. Sara O'Shea

This event was held on 30 October 2019.

Prof Sarah O’Shea led a discussion on Retaining, supporting and understanding first-in-family students: Research and practical strategies for academic ‘success’.

"My whole life has changed since I went to university. I left school thinking that I might be a hairdresser and tomorrow I’m going to go to my biochemistry course because I’m trying to become a doctor" (Isabel, 29 years, BNurs).

The quote above is from an interview with Isabel who was the first in her family (including partner) to attend university. As Isabel’s statement indicates, attending university has had a hugely transformative impact on her desired expectations for her life course. Isabel’s story is not unique; over the last decade, over 600 students have shared their, often inspiring, stories with me regarding their motivations for attending university, their experiences whilst studying and also, their desires and ambitions after graduation. These stories not only provide insights into the ‘inner workings’ of institutions but also reveal the very clear repercussions that such attendance has on the students, their families and the wider community.

This workshop drew upon interviews and surveys conducted with first-in-family (FiF) students studying at all stages of their degrees and at various institutions. Within Australia, the FiF cohort comprises over 50% of the HE student population and research indicates that this cohort is at greater risk of attrition. This diverse student population is frequently intersected by various equity categorisations and students have described, in research settings[1], a range of conflicting and demanding responsibilities in their lives. But as Isabel’s quote indicates this is also a deeply transformative undertaking, which has significant intergenerational repercussions. Given this significance, we need to carefully consider, as educators, how we might assist these students to achieve the ‘success’ that they desire.

The focus of this workshop is explored how HE institutions can broadly consider this FiF cohort and approaches to supporting and teaching that consider learners’ goals and ambitions. This application will also consider the notion of ‘academic success’ and the ways in which this is enacted at an individual lived level.

[1] The research in this presentation is drawn from projects conducted over the last 10 years including O’Shea, 2013, 2014, 2016; O’Shea, May, Stone & Delahunty, 2015; O’Shea 2016-2019; O’Shea, 2019.

The slidepack and recordings for the event:

Slidepack: Retaining, supporting and understanding first-in-family students (PPTX 3MB) and video recording

Transcript: Sarah O'Shea (DOCX 41KB)

Inclusive curriculum design and the CloudFirst CoDesign Project

Darci Taylor

Darci Taylor

Jo Elliot

Jo Elliot







This event was held on 29 August 2019.

Darci Taylor and Jo Elliott from the CloudFirst CoDesign Project presented a discussion on how CloudFirst is modelling good practice in inclusivity and digital accessibility at Deakin. They discussed how inclusivity is embedded in the CloudFirst design process and showcase exemplars from the project. Darci and Jo also shared their experiences and discuss future directions of inclusive curriculum design in the project.

The slidepack and recordings for the event:

Slidepack: Inclusive curriculum design and the CloudFirst CoDesign Project (PPTX 8MB)



A transcript may be downloaded here: Inclusive curriculum design and the CloudFirst CoDesign Project (DOCX 27KB)

For more information, contact Mary Dracup.

Dr Ella Kahu: Engaging our students in the classroom and online

Dr Ella Kahu

Dr Ella Kahu

This event was held on 5 July 2019.

Student engagement is key to learning, retention and success in higher education, but can be difficult to achieve. Renowned student experience researcher Dr Ella Kahu presented her Conceptual Framework of Student Engagement, suggesting specific strategies to engage students, in the classroom and online, more effectively.

Dr Kahu's framework clarifies the dynamic institutional and student factors that interact to influence a student’s engagement with a task or situation. It identifies four critical pathways to engagement: self-efficacy, belonging, emotions and well being. Conceptualising engagement this way helps us to understand the experiences of all our students, but particularly our non-traditional students, who can face additional challenges.

Dr Kahu's presentation drew on the literature, two qualitative research studies with different first year cohorts and her own teaching practice to suggest ways to engage students more effectively. This offered a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of engagement that will enable academic and professional staff to support all students successfully.

The slidepack and recordings from the event:

Slidepack: Engaging our students in the classroom and online (PPTX 3MB)




A transcript may be downloaded here: Engaging our students in the classroom and online (DOCX 52KB)

For more information, contact Mary Dracup.

Inclusive assessment panel and discussion

Photos of panellists

Inclusive assessment panel and discussion

This event was held on Monday 15 April. 

To assess students in such a way that they all get an equitable chance to demonstrate they can meet the necessary standards can be challenging – but we know it's the right thing to do.

A panel of Deakin academics from all faculties, a CRADLE representative and a student discussed practical, insightful ways that are being used to assess our students inclusively, and the issues attached.


  • Chair: Merrin Mccracken (Diversity & Inclusion): Introduction – The need for inclusive assessment at Deakin
  • Tegan Whitten (DUSA): A student story of assessment
  • Linda Tivendale (SEBE): Is this inclusivity? Assessment choices that work for our students
  • Friederika Kaider (Arts&EdPod DLF): A guide to assessing a task equivalently across formats
  • Dr Sharon Pittaway (Bus&Law): Designing inclusive assessment tasks
  • Susie Macfarlane (HealthPod DLF): Designing students’ active participation in assessment and feedback processes
  • Dr Joanna Tai (CRADLE): Considerations for assessment in a digital world

For further information on this event, please contact Mary Dracup.

The slidepack and recordings from the event:


Inclusive assessment panel and discussion (PPTX 2MB)


Please note the presentation begins at 13 minutes.


A transcript may be downloaded here: Inclusive assessment panel and discussion (DOCX 44KB).


Teaching international/non-English speaking background students

Dr Janette Ryan

Our first Inclusive Education Community of Practice event for 2019 was held on Thursday 7 February. We heard from international expert Dr Janette Ryan. Dr Ryan shared her insights into teaching international student cohorts, drawing on her extensive research into internationalisation of higher education and teaching international students over the past 20 years.

In 2018, Deakin enrolled 14,692 international students (approx. 24% of students). Of these, 67.8% were from a non-English speaking background. In addition, 1,126 (2.4%) of our domestic students were from a non-English speaking background. This diversity of our cultural and liguistic teaching and learning context brings significant opportunities and challenges for staff and students.

Dr Ryan advocated a holistic and systemic approach, focusing on issues of culture and language. She offered practical suggestions for effective, sustainable and inclusive pedagogies for our international and non-English speaking background students.

For further information on this event, please contact Mary Dracup.

The slidepack and recordings from the event


Dr Janette Ryan - Teaching International and NESB students slidepack (PPT 7MB)


Please note the presentation begins at 5 min. 45 secs.



A transcript may be downloaded here: Inclusive teaching with international and NESB students transcript (DOCX 34KB).

The Evidence is IN(clusive)

Inclusive Education Project Team present at Deakin’s Learning and Teaching Conference on 14 November 2018

You may have seen Deakin’s Inclusive Education Principles, but do you know the empirical evidence underpinning them? A presentation from the Inclusive Education Project Team to the 2018 Deakin Learning & Teaching Conference aimed to fill that gap and answer the question of why it makes so much sense to anticipate variability in our learners, and design learning experiences and assessments that work for all of them.

The presentation explained how inclusive education practices are not just fair, but successful—and that there is abundant evidence supporting the Deakin Principles, you don’t have to just believe us!

In this short presentation we chose to highlight 3 of the 9 to principles:

  • Inclusive Education Principle 4. Represent diversity in the curriculum
  • Inclusive Education Principle 7. Assess equitably
  • Inclusive Education Principle 2. Provide accessible and usable learning resources and environments

View The evidence is (IN)clusive (PPT 3MB).

Diverse beginnings – A focus on belonging through orientation

Our first Inclusive Education Community of Practice event: Diverse beginnings – a focus on belonging through orientation was held on Tuesday 23 October 2018.

Corinna Ridley (Manager, Student Academic and Peer Support Services) presented on the ambitious and multi-pronged approach her team introduced this year to give every student the best start to university.

This lunchtime event also gave attendees time to meet and discuss their own inclusive education ideas, issues and/or research with colleagues at their campus, over a light lunch provided by the Diversity and Inclusion Unit.

View the Diverse beginnings presentation (PPT 1.3MB).

Diversity @ Deakin – Transition pedagogy: maintaining the momentum

Professor Sally Kift

Dear Colleague,

“…in all their diversity, students come to higher education to learn and … it is within the first year curriculum that students must be inspired, supported, and realise their sense of belonging; not only for early engagement and retention, but also as a foundation for later years’ learning success and a lifetime of professional practice” (Kift, 2009, p. 1).

Transition Pedagogy was first raised more than ten years ago and has been widely adopted in Australia and internationally as a sustainable student success framework. In 2018, are we any better at meeting commencing students’ needs? Is momentum for a whole-of-student, whole-of-institution approach flagging or building in a time of tightening budgets and near-universal student participation?

Please join me in welcoming Professor Sally Kift, who pioneered transition pedagogy, to address these important questions for a whole of Deakin audience in ‘Diversity @ Deakin – Transition pedagogy: maintaining the momentum.’

I look forward to seeing you there,


Mel Martinelli

Diversity and Inclusion
Deakin University

Video/audio recording of presentation


Alternate formats available to view or download:
Audio File
Transcript (DOCX 62KB)
Presentation slides (PDF 9MB)