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15 July 2013

Closing the gap by building Indigenous research

A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers’ Network will help to close the higher education gap by supporting aspiring post-graduate and mid-career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, and build our Indigenous research capacity. 

The Australian Government is providing $3.2 million over four years for the new Network, to be opened today by Australian Research Council CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under-represented among researchers, higher degree research student enrolments and completions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students made up 1.1 per cent of higher degree by research students at university, and 0.8 per cent of all higher degree by research completions in 2010. This highlights a need for strategic investment to support Indigenous researchers to pursue research degrees and research careers,” Professor Byrne said.

Funded through the ARC’s Special Research Initiatives scheme, the Queensland University of Technology will lead the new National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN) together with nine collaborating institutions across the country, the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and five Partner Organisations.

“The initiative is aimed at creating a national collaborative Network—harnessing the leadership of skilled and experienced university-based Indigenous researchers with strong track records—who will build a research program to mentor those in their early careers, to improve their chances of staying on, filling research positions and pursuing successful research careers,” Professor Byrne said.
“It will create pathways for Indigenous researchers from undergraduate to post-graduate studies, establishing a pipeline of new researchers, across institutions, disciplines and areas of critical research importance.

The new network will be led by Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson from the Queensland University of Technology. The Network will have an interconnected national presence, administered from a central hub based at QUT, with ‘spokes’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers located throughout Australia. Each ‘spoke’ will focus on one of four research programs: Indigenous Sociology and Knowledges, Indigenous Law, Indigenous Health, and Yuraki—History, Politics and Culture.

The nine collaborating Australian universities involved in the Network are: Central Queensland University; Charles Darwin University; The Australian National University; The University of Newcastle; The University of Western Australia; University of Tasmania; University of Technology, Sydney; The University of Melbourne; and University of Wollongong.

Five partner organisations have committed a further $2.1 million in cash and $3.4 million in kind towards the new network: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation; National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples; Ninti One Limited; South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation; and the United Nations University.

For more information on the ARC’s Special Research Initiative for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers’ Networkvisit the ARC website.

Media contact: 
ARC Stakeholder Relations 
0412 623 056 or communications[@]arc.gov.au