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All are invited to attend UC’s 2021 Indigenous Research Symposium

Kalyx Jorgensen

13 December 2021: The University of Canberra will host its first biennial Indigenous Research Symposium on 16 December, highlighting Indigenous-focused research across all faculties.

The Indigenous Research Symposium, an initiative included in the University’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) aims to showcase and further promote research that benefits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s event will be held virtually and has been organised by the UC Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative (UC CIRI), a network at the University committed to promoting, connecting and growing UC's Indigenous research interests.

UC CIRI also administers funding for many of the projects being highlighted at the symposium. All UC CIRI projects are required to collaborate with relevant Indigenous communities to ensure the research is meaningful and provides real benefits to the community.

The event will feature Indigenous postgraduate students as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers working across all five faculties, showing the breadth of Indigenous-focused research taking place at the University.

Dr Holly Northam OAM, a Senior Lecturer of Nursing at the University will be one of the first speakers at the symposium on Thursday, presenting alongside Dr Wayne Applebee, Senior Lecturer – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialisation.

The presentation ‘‘Ngura’ – belonging: The decolonising power of Restorative Practice to connect and heal” will share the findings from the Restorative Healthcare Program project, which examined the success of the Whanganui District Health Board in New Zealand, as it engaged with the local Indigenous community, following indications it was making strides to close the gap with Māori healthcare.

Dr Northam and her team travelled over to New Zealand to observe the program and learn from Elders in the community as well as the Board, to understand why the program was having such success, and look at the potential to implement similar measures at the University of Canberra Hospital.

Dr Northam highlighted the importance of the symposium, and more broadly, Indigenous research, in acknowledging and appreciating Indigenous knowledge.

“I’m looking forward to all the presentations at the symposium. Indigenous research is critical to bringing equity to First Nations people, and as a non-Indigenous researcher working in this space, my role is really to amplify their voices,” she said.

“The knowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples hold is immense, they have huge wisdom that is often unrecognised.”

Benny Wilson, another of the researchers presenting at the symposium and an Assistant Professor of Education at the University said the event would be rich in diverse approaches.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the presentations – I’m quite privileged to sit on the UC CIRI Executive Committee and know a lot of these projects quite intimately. They are all in different areas of research and from different perspectives, pushing forward Indigenous knowledge in a range of contexts,” he said.

Assistant Professor Wilson will be presenting on a project that aims to help University educators embed Indigenous ways of knowing into their curriculum.

His presentation, "Teaching for Country: Exploring transformative opportunities in initial teacher education through enacting Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing”, is UC-focused, and seeks to create further discussion around, interest and confidence in embedding teaching for Country (and caring for Country) in unit planning and student engagement in these learnings.

Assistant Professor Wilson says it’s an such an exciting time to work in Indigenous education, with a real shift occurring.

“For a long time, [Indigenous] education, has primarily been about helping Indigenous kids get by in a Eurocentric system,” he said. “It’s exciting that we are moving towards an understanding of Indigenous education as the use of Indigenous knowledge to reshape the Australian education system. This presents a tremendous opportunity to connect students with ways of being that will help them meet complex challenges as future educators. After all, Indigenous knowledge built the most sustainable and longest surviving culture in the world.”

The Indigenous Research Symposium takes place on 16 December, 9am3.30pm. You can find out more and register by visiting the event page.