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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Breaking down barriers facing Indigenous researchers

The University of Newcastle has launched a new scholarship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD candidates to help address some of the barriers facing Indigenous researchers. 

Founded with support from the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP), the Indigenous Priority Scheme aims to support scholars’ success during their studies. 

And, the university is proud to announce its first recipient, Ian Perdrisat. 

His research in the field of education will seek to develop a holistic approach for improving the lives of Indigenous youth in remote communities. 

He’ll now receive a living allowance for four years, thereby providing financial support over the length of a full-time PhD. 

Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Nathan Towney, said the scholarship scheme was critical for addressing the inequality and barriers facing Indigenous researchers. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people bring a unique and valuable expertise to the field of research and a scholarship like this will allow recipients to fully immerse themselves in their research, without the worry of financial burden,” he added. 

Mr Perdrisat, a Barkinji and Wangkamurra Traditional Owner who grew up in Western Sydney, has been living in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia for the past 30 years. 

He studies remotely with the University of Newcastle. 

His lived experience in remote communities, combined with academic experience, will see him complete a research project that will have important outcomes for Aboriginal youth in remote communities. 

“Colonisation of the Kimberley region of Western Australia has had a profound and lasting impact on the original people, environment, society, and culture,” Mr Perdrisat said. 

“The colonial framework continues to marginalise Indigenous people through the region, particularly youth. 

“The aim of my research is to identify a model to influence policy and attract investment to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal youth in the Western Kimberley region.  

“My research is focused on changing the narrative to support solutions on the ground, particularly regarding Aboriginal youth suicide, and the scholarship from the University of Newcastle will help me be able to tell that story through the completion of my PhD.” 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky, congratulated Mr Perdrisat on his scholarship and said he welcomed the focus on Indigenous PhD Researchers. 

“Higher degree researchers make a big contribution to our university’s research profile, but historically, Indigenous academics in this category haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as their non-Indigenous counterparts,” he explained. 

“This scholarship is a fantastic initiative that seeks to address these inequalities and highlights the University of Newcastle’s commitment to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, well-being, and educational opportunities.” 

Scholarship applications will be assessed and awarded on a monthly rolling basis, depending on the availability of funding.  

Visit the university’s website for more information or to apply.

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