In summary

  • Indigenous academics at Swinburne are driving high-quality research
  • The research of several Indigenous academics is being funded by external grants, including from the Australian Research Council
  • Swinburne has had a substantial increase in the numbers of Indigenous academics in the past five years, predominantly in the Moondani Toombadool Centre

Swinburne’s Indigenous academics are driving significant and innovative research and making substantial impact across the university and the wider community.

As the university establishes the new National Centre for Reconciliation Practice and prepares to welcome inaugural Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Engagement Professor John Evans, Swinburne’s Indigenous academics are driving high quality research in a wide range of research fields.

Executive Director (Reconciliation Strategy and Leadership) and Executive Director (Moondani Toombadool Centre), Professor Andrew Gunstone says that “it is wonderful to see Indigenous academics leading exceptional, self-determining, reciprocal, collaborative and impactful research.”

”Under our Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs), Swinburne has significantly increased the number of Indigenous academics over the past five years, predominately in the Moondani Toombadool Centre, and in the Indigenous Research Fellowship Scheme funded by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research),” Professor Gunstone said.

“Our 2020-23 Elevate RAP recognises that Indigenous academic employment is a whole-of-university responsibility, and includes targets such as appointing senior Indigenous academics, ensuring relevant academic promotion panels undertake cultural competency training, and employing Indigenous academics in all academic schools.”

Emma Gavin

Garrwa Aboriginal woman and Lecturer of Indigenous Studies Emma Gavin was featured on Swinburne’s Instagram during Space Week 2021, introducing the history and continuing importance of Indigenous astronomy. You can also watch her presentation for Social Sciences Week 2021, ‘Indigenous Astronomy: Sky Stories’.

Emma is also interim MTC Academic Director (Indigenous Teaching and Learning), and in her new role, is working with Professor Gunstone and Professor Susanne Garvis on the Swinburne Teachers and Regional and Remote Schools (STARs) project, funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training. This will support 75 pre-service teachers in regional and remote placements across Victoria, focussing on building strong understandings of Indigenous standpoints and STEM education with foundations of trauma-informed pedagogies.

Dr Sadie Heckenberg

Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls in their educational journey is the focus of a recent ARC Linkage project, led by MTC Academic Director (Indigenous Research) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Research Fellow Dr Sadie Heckenberg.

Working with a team that also includes Professor Gunstone, Dr Heckenberg is partnering with Indigenous educators and communities nationally to create broader, long-lasting positive change regarding access, participation and success for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The Wiradjuri scholar will work with a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia to apply Indigenous knowledges to develop new understandings and insights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls’ education.

Wendy Hermeston

Wiradjuri woman Wendy Hermeston recently joined Swinburne’s newly-established National Centre for Reconciliation Practice.

The National Centre will provide national academic, industry and community leadership on a broad range of reconciliation matters. Wendy will lead one of the National Centre’s research nodes – reconciliation movements – and will work with National Centre’s Executive Director, Professor Gunstone, on a range of key research projects across Swinburne’s 2020-23 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

These projects include investigating the thirty-year history of the Australian reconciliation movement, analysing the national reconciliation movements in countries such as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, and developing industry-focussed online training packages on reconciliation and RAPs. 

Associate Professor Emma Lee

Associate Professor (Indigenous Leadership) Emma Lee from the Centre for Social Impact became the first Indigenous Australian editor of a Best Practice Guideline for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature last year.

She was also appointed by the Federal Government to the Indigenous Voice National Co-Design Group, and nominated for Tasmania’s 2022 Australian of the Year Award. Associate Professor Lee is a Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery grant-funded world-first comparative study of social procurement policy implementation.

She is also currently leading the establishment of a market for cultural fisheries in Tasmania, where access to commercial high-value species to supply local markets will aid in ending Aboriginal juvenile justice interventions.

Dr Andrew Peters

Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Studies and Tourism, Dr Andrew Peters is exploring contemporary understandings of Indigenous knowledges and technologies. Last year, Dr Peters hosted a panel discussion on Indigenous Peoples and Technology for Social Sciences Week 2021. The panel also included a number of other Swinburne Indigenous academics – Dr Mat Jakobi, Dr Emma Lee and Dr Justin Trounson.

Dr Peters also recently wrote a piece for The Conversation on the opportunities to embrace ancient and valuable Indigenous knowledges and technologies and identify potential within them in different ways. In this piece, he also explores histories and meanings of Indigenous technologies. 

Dr Justin Trounson

Announced as part of the latest round of ARC Linkage Projects, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Behavioural Science Dr Justin Trounson will be working on a major project focused on reconciliation between the South Australian Museum and the Ngarrindjeri community through the return and digital archiving of Ngarrindjeri-owned photographs held by the museum.

The project aims to recover, curate and exhibit a large archive of photographs of national significance created by Aboriginal photographers in the mid-20th century. Working with the Ngarrindjeri people and the South Australian Museum, it expects to elevate the status and diversity of Aboriginal voices in Australian visual culture and public life and undertake a process of reconciliation and healing.

Find out more about Indigenous research at Swinburne.

Reconciliation at Swinburne 

Last year, Swinburne launched our latest 2020–23 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is the university’s third RAP and the second RAP to achieve ‘Elevate’ status. Swinburne was the first university to achieve this status and is one of only three Australian universities to have an Elevate RAP. 

Significant achievements from the 2017–2019 RAP included establishing the Moondani Toombadool Centre, hosting the inaugural National RAP Conference and joining 13 other Elevate RAP organisations to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

Connect with our Moondani Toombadool Centre for all Indigenous matters at Swinburne.

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