Indigenous research initiatives

The University is home to exceptional Indigenous research, across all academic disciplines. Much of this work is Indigenous led or co-designed to benefit Indigenous people. And this, in turn, benefits Australia.

Over the past 10 years, our commitment to Indigenous research has gained momentum. This means an increase in investment, programs and initiatives, and academic output. And this momentum continues to grow.

Our Indigenous research community looks to expand our understanding of the challenges and opportunities for Indigenous peoples in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region to improve knowledge and understanding for the benefit of Indigenous communities and Australian society as a whole.

We have increased research capability and expertise in Indigenous knowledge across many disciplines. This includes bioscience, engineering and design, linguistics, art history and ethnomusicology. We also engage in research partnerships with Indigenous leaders and knowledge holders.

Across the University, there is robust Indigenous representation among our researchers. Their breadth of knowledge, skills and experience is strong, from graduate researchers right through to renowned scholars. As a graduate researcher, you can look forward to being well supported on your research journey by fellow Indigenous researchers at varying stages of their careers.

Indigenous research is making an impact

Safeguarding Indigenous languages

This was a collaboration between the Indigenous Studies Unit and the Melbourne Networked Institute at the Kanamkek-Yile Ngala Museum in Wadeye in the Northern Territory. Together, we digitised and preserved 40 years of community audiovisual records, safeguarding the Indigenous languages of the Daly region.

Designing and constructing for Indigenous communities

Since 2008, Dr David O’Brien from the Melbourne School of Design has led a series of design projects called the Bower Studio. As part of these projects, graduate researchers work with remote Indigenous communities in Australia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea to improve their built environments.

The Bower Studio has completed 18 design and construction projects to date and it continues to nurture positive relationships with those communities.

Building an Indigenous data network

This project is managed by the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. We are working with Indigenous communities to collect, record and store information as digital data. All this information is valued in line with Indigenous' knowledges and traditions.

The digital information can become an asset for Indigenous communities – enabling cultural preservation, as well as creating strategic and economic benefits.

Protecting endangered quoll populations

Biologists from the University’s School of Biosciences have worked with the Kenbi Rangers in the Northern Territory in a DNA testing trial of quolls.

The team released 54 of these endangered marsupials onto Indian Island in May 2018. The research goal was to measure their adaptation to the threat of cane toads. These findings hope to enhance the prospects for endangered quoll populations elsewhere in Australia.

Creating opportunities for Indigenous peoples

The Indigenous Knowledge Institute is a focal point for Indigenous research activity and programs at the University. It supports teaching and understanding of cultures that are the oldest on earth.

The institute builds on exciting research and education activities in language, arts and music, life sciences, engineering, design and health.

Connecting Indigenous artists

The Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development is part of our Southbank campus for fine arts and music.

Its goal is to connect Indigenous artists with a pathway to their future in:

  • Visual and performing arts
  • Design
  • Film
  • Television Production.

Through research, we learn how best to develop and promote Indigenous artists and how to create new opportunities for public engagement. This means we can share the longstanding traditions of Indigenous cultures with the rest of society.

Closing the gap on life expectancy for Indigenous peoples

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health is part of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Our main goal is to close the gap on life expectancy for Indigenous peoples. We also aspire to equal health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

To do this, we work with respected Elders, and we collaborate with leading experts in Indigenous health and health education to inform new policy and clinical practice around Australia.

Another key goal is to encourage more Indigenous PhD candidates in health – creating a strong network of researchers who want to improve Indigenous health outcomes.

Resources for graduate researchers

Leaders in their field

Our Indigenous academic staff have been recognised for their research excellence and leadership in their field. Some of these researchers include:

First published on 16 February 2022.

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