First Nations researchers build connectivity at Flinders

The inaugural, in-person First Nations Researchers Collective Summit began with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony on Wednesday 2 November at Yungkurrinthi Inparilla, located at Flinders University’s Bedford Park campus.

The Welcome to Country was performed by Senior Elder-on-Campus Uncle Dr Lewis Yarlupurka O’Brien before Senior Kaurna man Uncle Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien cleansed the space with a traditional Smoking Ceremony.

Senior Researcher Lorna Murakami-Gold (left), Associate Professor Karla Canuto (middle), and Associate Professor Natalie Harkin (right)—the Leaders of the Collective—welcome everyone to the Summit.

The three-day summit, held from 2-4 November, provided 25 members from the Collective to gather in-person, with another three members attending remotely. It marked the Collective’s first opportunity to meet face-to-face, after earlier sessions this year were held online, connecting researchers at Flinders’ campuses in Bedford Park and the Northern Territory (Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nuhlunbuy).

The First Nations Researchers Collective was established in December 2021 to provide a supporting, reciprocal network that can share knowledge, foster collaboration, enhance opportunities, and build capacity for emerging and established Indigenous researchers.

In its pilot year, the Collective has focused on engaging researchers, building connectivity, and facilitating research confidence, building capacity and growth. The sessions during 2022 have provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers with the opportunity to discuss research, well-being and support, and career-related issues.

Professor Rob Saint, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), and Associate Professor Simone Tur, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), celebrate the successes of Indigenous researchers at Flinders.

During last week’s Summit, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Associate Professor Simone Tur celebrated the recent successes of members of the Collective, which includes:

  • ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant ($468,000) led by Associate Professor Ali Baker and including Associate Professor Simone Tur, Associate Professor Natalie Harkin and Dr Faye Rosas Blanch.
  • Associate Professor Ali Baker was also one of the Creative Directors selected for the prestigious 2023 Venice Architectural Biennale Australian Pavilion (2023).
  • Dr Courtney Ryder was awarded an NHMRC Investigator Grant ($655,000), a Medical Research Future Fund Indigenous Health Research grant ($756,000), and was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Early Career Researcher Award.
  • Associate Professor Tamara Mackean was awarded a MRFF Indigenous Health Research ($2.3 million).
  • Professor Jaqui Hughes was awarded the 2022 ‘Advancing Equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori Peoples’ from the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.
  • Associate Professor Natalie Harkin won an ARC Future Fellowship ($908,000).
  • Lorna Murakami-Gold was part of a $10 million Medical Research Future Fund grant with the Central Australia Academic Health Science Network.

Associate Professor Tur and Associate Professor Harkin asked those present at the Summit to join in a national day of action and take part in a minute’s silence to honour the life and memory of young 15-year-old Noongar boy Cassius Turvey, whose recent death sparked vigils and rallies around the country.

“We stand here at Yungkurrinthi Inparilla in solidarity and grief and rage and love with Cassius’s mother, his whole family and his community,” said Associate Professor Tur. “We stand in solidarity and protection and love with all our sons and daughters who Cassius could so easily represent. We know there are staff and students at Flinders who are related and connected to Cassius and his community, and we stand in solidarity and support and love with you, too.”

Keynote speaker, Professor Katerina Teaiwa (ANU; left) with members of the Collective, Associate Professor Natalie Harkin (middle) and Dr Duncan Langford-Glass (right).

Several Summit attendees, including Professor Maree Meredith, Dr Richard Fejo and Associate Professor Tur, will present at an online conference on 10 and 11 November. Are you ready Australia? The future of Indigenous leadership in Australian Higher Education will discuss the importance of including Indigenous voices and leadership in Australian Higher Education. For more information about Are you ready Australia? click here.

All Flinders University researchers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, including Honours and HDR students, are invited to be part of the Collective. The Collective is led by Associate Professor Natalie Harkin (CHASS, Bedford Park), Associate Professor Karla Canuto (CMPH, Darwin) and Poche Research Fellow Senior Researcher Lorna Murakami-Gold (Poche SA+NT, CMPH, Alice Springs). The Collective is supported by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), the Office of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement and Research Development and Support.

For more information about the First Nations Research Collective, click here.

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Office of Indigenous Strategy & Engagement Research Development and Support