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Thu, 1 Jan 2015

Spotlight on Indigenous research

Indigenous academics, researchers and students will dominate the speakers list at an international conference in Cairns this week.

Indigenous academics, researchers and students will dominate the speakers list at an international conference in Cairns this week.

Sustainable International Leadership in Indigenous Research: pathways, potential and practice will address how research can be used to help build strong, healthy and sustainable Indigenous communities. The conference will be held on July 9-10 at The Cairns Institute at James Cook University.

Conference convenor Dr Felecia Watkin Lui, Director of Research Training at JCU’s School of Indigenous Australian Studies, said the conference would showcase genuine partnerships with Indigenous communities and celebrate quality Indigenous-led and controlled research.

“Leading Indigenous academics had been secured as keynote speakers including University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston,” she said.

“Professor Houston is the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to such a senior role at any Australian university and is considered a major change agent in Indigenous education, so we are looking forward to his address.

“In addition to our keynote speakers, an expert panel of local and international Indigenous people will engage in a discussion that challenges us to think about new ways of working with Indigenous knowledge.

“While this conference involves university-based research, we also want to engage non-academic delegates by including community-based research.

“For example, Torres Strait Regional Authority Project Manager (Sea) Frank Loban will discuss his research involving training local people in dugong satellite tracking, which in turn informs the management of Torres Strait sea country.

“Frank embodies the concept of sustainability in Indigenous communities as he came from the Torres Strait to study in Townsville and has returned to his community to use his skills, qualifications and Indigenous knowledge of the local area.

“Sustainable research like his can have the long-term effect of empowering Indigenous people to be involved with research and realise the aspirations of their community.”

Dr Watkin Lui said research had not always served Indigenous people well, so the conference would start with a smoking ceremony as a means of healing past injustices, purifying the area and strengthening people.

In conjunction with the conference, a free community event will be held on July 10 from 3.30pm to mark NAIDOC Week. Award-winning Indigenous band Zennith will perform and there will be free traditional food as well as art and craft stalls.

Issued July 8, 2013

Media enquiries: E. linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au T. 07 4232 1007