Foundation courses that provide knowledge and understanding about the social, cultural and historical factors shaping Indigenous Australians’ lives since colonial settlement and their effects are endorsed in Australian higher education policy. Literature highlights the complexity of changing student views and the need for sustained, comprehensive approaches to teaching foundation content. This paper analyses one such course in its capacity to increase knowledge and understanding, and promote positive attitudes, particularly amongst non-Indigenous students. It finds significant shifts in views and knowledge gained from studying the foundation course, and a change in commitment to social justice and reconciliation for Indigenous Australians. Students also significantly changed their view as to whether all Australians should understand this material. Despite these gains, our experiences indicate that foundational courses can be eroded through institutional processes. We argue this suggests the persistence of pervasive and subtle institutional racisms, in the context of global commodification of higher education.