Research projects

Swinburne conducts research projects with Indigenous organisations, industry groups and other universities. We focus on contributing to Australia’s economic and social objectives. Our aim is to provide high-impact research and partnerships creating positive change for Indigenous peoples, our students, staff and the wider Australian community.

We commit to research projects that directly support Indigenous peoples’ engagement in higher education studies, employment and career progression through our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Indigenous futures collaboration

Research team: Ellie Rennie, Prabha Prayaga, Katya PechenkinaYee Man Louie.

The Indigenous Futures Collaboration (IFC) is funded by the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program to set up and implement three demonstrator projects that will design and deliver digitally enabled online vocational education and training courses that will have clearly mapped pathways to higher level courses and programs. The research for this project aims to understand the effectiveness of this innovative approach to integrated digitally-enabled learning in addressing gaps in Indigenous higher education rates particularly in rural and remote regions. The results and outcomes of the projects will be used to improve existing projects, and for expanding into new initiatives and partnerships.

Financial Dispossession: A history of Indigenous peoples and Stolen Wages in Victoria

Australian Research Council Linkage Project

Research Lead: Andrew Gunstone

For more than one hundred years, the wages, savings and pensions of Indigenous Victorians were largely controlled by governments and their agencies. This occurred through a range of practices, including non-payment or underpayment of wages and withholding of social security benefits and pensions. These practices are known today as Stolen Wages practices. This project will investigate the history of these Stolen Wages practices and the impact of these practices on Victorian Indigenous communities.

Investigating internet take-up in Central Australian communities

Research Team: Ellie Rennie, Julian Thomas, Eleanor Hogan, Andrew Crouch (CAT), Alyson Wright (CLC), and Robin Gregory.

The Home Internet in Remote Indigenous Communities project was the first comprehensive study of internet adoption and use in Australia's remote Aboriginal communities. The research took place between 2010 and 2014, using a mixed methods approach, including a trial of home-based internet and ICT hardware in three outstations in the central Australia region, and case studies in two larger communities (one with a shared internet facility, the other with mobile coverage). The project partners were the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, the Central Land Council, the Centre for Appropriate Technology and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

Building culturally secure services for Indigenous Australians with disability

A national project to inform best practice for advocacy services; the development of Indigenous Australian employees in the disability sector; and training within the disability sector for working with the Indigenous Australian community.

After the flood: The role of public art and participatory design in building resilience and place-making

Research lead: Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandenhoek

A project exploring how public art and design initiatives can nurture belonging, pride and a sense of place. It also investigates how participatory processes can encourage strong and inclusive local communities. Swinburne's EIRCS Scheme funds this project. We are working with the Warmun Aboriginal Community, East Kimberley, Western Australia.

Children born of war

Australian Research Council Indigenous Discovery Project

Research Team: Victoria Grieves (University of Sydney), Catriona Elder (University of Sydney) and Dr Karen Hughes

Many thousands of mixed-race children were born in Australia when more than one million allied troops were stationed here during the Second World War. These children are the embodied challenge to all of the nations involved, to provide the opportunity for a family background for identity and wellbeing. In seeking to understand the circumstances that brought them into the world, some have been able to resume relationships with family in the United States of America. This project will contribute to addressing the unanswered questions of these children by exploring the social contexts and interplays of gender and race in the extremities of wartime.

Photographing the Ngarrindjeri Fringe Camps: an exercise in history and healing

‘Photographing the Ngarrindjeri Fringe Camps’ explores the layers of meaning and the rich social history of photographs. These photos are held in Ngarrindjeri family collections, and mostly taken by Ngarrindjeri photographers themselves, from the time that small private cameras were widely available, in the period following the Second World War. Our researchers collaborate with Ngarrindjeri elders, and former fringe camp residents, to gather and critically interpret these photographs and their histories for a public exhibition and communicate results to the Australian public.

Bearing Witness: mediating between two laws

Research Team: Dr Karen Hughes with Ngukurr families

This book-length research project, funded by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and in partnership with families in the Ngukurr community, Northern Territory, tells the history of frontier relations from the 1890s to the present, along the Roper River, south-east Arnhem Land, through the lives and perspectives of four generations of Roper River women, drawing on community oral histories and remembrance. It highlights Aboriginal women’s agency and their role as diplomats on the frontier.

A Preliminary Investigation into the Cultural Consequences of Remote Aboriginal Housing Management

Research Team: Dr Karen Hughes and Dr Angela Spinney

Current research on housing in remote Indigenous areas has illuminated the positive and negative cultural consequences for tenants of the housing, and housing management, provided through the current National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing Agreement (NPARIH). These consequences include a dissonance between mainstream methods of tenancy management and culturally appropriate ways of living in the housing. Situations such as leaving a house empty for a sometimes prolonged period after someone passes away, and the efficacy of living together across kinship 'avoidance' relationships, for example, are vital to ongoing cultural reproduction as well as personal and community well-being. Moreover, they illuminate a considerable gap in contemporary understanding of the historically-based cultural values associated with housing which we will explore.

Assessing the Australian Football League's racial and religious vilification laws to promote community harmony, multiculturalism and reconciliation

Research Lead: Dr Sean Gorman from Curtin University

This project will provide a deeper understanding of racial and religious vilification in Australia. Using a multidisciplinary research framework this project will provide a new approach to indigenous and multicultural public policy, community harmony, reconciliation and diversity. Central to this approach is an examination of the Australian Football League's Rule 30. It brings together key industry, government, community and academic stakeholders together to address the twin themes of reconciliation and harmony in Australian society.

Identifying Effective Arrangements for Managing Remote Aboriginal Tenancies

Research Team: Associate Professor Daphne Habibis, University of Tasmania and Dr Angela Spinney

Housing reforms in remote Indigenous communities has resulted in multiple tenancy management arrangements. This project, funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, will analyse the progress of reforms to tenancy management in remote Indigenous communities. Collaboration with Indigenous tenants from Wajul Wajul (QLD), Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (SA), Ngukkur (NT) and remote parts of WA, will enable this project to inform service delivery strategies through a contextualised analysis of optimal arrangements. It will also share policy and practice learnings across jurisdictions.