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The aim of the Indigenous Research Exchange is to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by ensuring there is more involvement and agency in research projects.

We encourage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to set research priorities, lead projects and determine the appropriate collection and use of data about communities.

The Exchange is an exciting opportunity for AIATSIS and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations to work together to translate research into meaningful, useful and practical information.

The key objectives of the Exchange are to:

  • Connect people, data, ideas and evidence
  • Translate, synthesise, and disseminate evidence and data
  • Make research findings more accessible, more contestable and more useable
  • Shape research agendas
  • Promote good practice and use good evidence 

We offer:

  1. A Research Grants Program to build on the evidence base to support Indigenous decision making and policy design.
  2. A Knowledge Exchange Platform to address the need for access to useable data and information.

Exchange Advisory Board

The Indigenous Research Exchange Advisory Board provides strategic guidance to the Exchange and ensures the outcomes and objectives of the program are achieved. Each grant funding round the Advisory Board establishes research priorities based on engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples.

  • Craig Ritchie

    Craig Ritchie is an Aboriginal man of the Dhunghutti and Biripi nations and is the Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

    Prior to coming to AIATSIS he was Branch Manager, International Mobility in the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. He was the Departmental lead on the Australian Government’s education relationships in America, the Middle East and Africa, along with APEC and UNESCO.

    As a senior Public Servant Craig has had responsibility for major systemic reform initiatives including remote primary health care service delivery, place-based community development through the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership. He is one of a small cohort of Indigenous public servants who provide significant leadership in the broader whole-of-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs particularly as a member of the Commonwealth Indigenous Reform Group.

    He holds adjunct appointments at the University of Sydney (Health Sciences) and the University of Technology Sydney (Indigenous Research).

  • Professor Maggie Walter

    Maggie Walter (PhD) is palawa, descending from the pairrebenne people of North Eastern Tasmania and a member of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Briggs family. Professor Walter has and continues to lead the national conversation on Aboriginal research and data.
    She has been a Steering Committee member of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children since 2004, which for the first time shed new light on the reality of the lives of the children and their families.

    Professor Walter has also written extensively, authoring several books and numerous book chapters and journal articles in the fields of social work, family and Indigenous issues.
    Professor Walter was awarded a 2018 Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship to lead an international study where for the first-time comparative data on educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Native American children were analysed.

  • Ms Michelle Deshong

    Michelle Deshong is from Townsville, North Queensland and draws here connection to Kuku Yulanji nation. She completed a BA with First Class Honours in Political Science and Indigenous studies.  Michelle is currently the CEO of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute. 

    Michelle has worked in both the Government and NGO sectors, and has held many senior leadership and governance roles. In 2013 Michelle was named in the Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards.

    Michelle has extensive experience in areas of leadership, governance and politics and a strong background in gender equality, working to ensure that the voices of Indigenous women are represented at all levels.

    In 2016 & 2018, Michelle undertook research in the USA and Canada as part of her Fulbright scholarship & Churchill Fellowship respectively on First Nations governance and Self-Determination. Michelle was awarded 2015 National NAIDOC Scholar of the Year.

  • Professor Peter Anderson

    Professor Peter J. Anderson is from the Walpiri and Murinpatha First Nations in the Northern Territory.

    Previously the Director of the Indigenous Research & Engagement Unit (IREU) at QUT, Professor Anderson now leads the Carumba Institute as the Executive Director as of 2020. Under his leadership, the Carumba Institute aims to transform both Indigenous research and Indigenous education.

    In 2020, in partnership with QALT, he successfully achieved a global first accreditation for the Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) (Indigenous), which is a flagship education program for the Carumba Institute.

  • Professor Colleen Hayward

    Professor Colleen Hayward AM is a senior Noongar woman with extensive family links throughout the South West of WA. She is concurrently Head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Education and Research and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Equity and Indigenous across the University.

    For more than 30 years, Colleen has provided significant input to policies and programs on a wide range of issues, reflecting the needs of minority groups at community, state and national levels. Among her many achievements, she has been recognised for her long-standing work for and on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia by being named a finalist in the national Deadly Awards in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health (2008) and by winning the 2008 National NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year Award. In 2012, Colleen was inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame, was recognised as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia and made a Western Australian Ambassador for Children and Young People.

  • Professor Bronwyn Fredricks

    Professor Bronwyn Fredericks has over 30 years of experience working in and with the tertiary sector, State and Federal Governments, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-based organisations.

    In 2017 Professor Fredericks was appointed as one of two Commissioners with the Queensland Productivity Commission (QPC) and was the presiding commissioner leading the Inquiry into Service Provision in Discrete and Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. In 2019, she was a Commissioner with the Inquiry into Imprisonment and Recidivism, and in 2018, a Commissioner with the Inquiry into Manufacturing in Queensland. 

    Bronwyn has been a recipient of research awards and fellowships, including both Endeavour and NHMRC awards and in recognition of her research, Bronwyn received the inaugural 2019 Public Health Award in Indigenous Health.

  • Professor Jacinta Elston

    Professor Jacinta Elston, an Aboriginal woman from Townsville in North Queensland, is the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Monash University. She is the current Chair of Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control. Her career has focused on Indigenous health and Indigenous higher education, and she has contributed many years of service on state and federal ministerial appointments, and the boards of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

  • Mr Kenny Bedford

    Kenny Bedford was appointed to the My Pathway board in 2018 after holding the position of Culture and Diversity Manager for two years. He is responsible for progressing the business’ commitment to reconciliation, drawing on his deep cultural knowledge and experience.

    Kenny is a traditional owner from the Meuram Clan of Erub in the Torres Strait Islands. During the past two decades he has been integral in developing traditional and commercial fisheries and held many community-based roles. Since 2006, he has been a member of the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and previously served as the Deputy Mayor for Torres Strait Island Regional Council.

    Kenny is dedicated to supporting the development and growth of communities where he enjoyed his younger years. He is a Director at Reconciliation Australia and a member of the NAIDOC committee.

  • Blair Exel (ex officio)

    Blair is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Policy and Programs in the National Indigenous Australians’ Agency. 

    He is the former Ambassador for Regional Health Security and served as a co-chair of the interdepartmental Task Force for the 2014 West Africa Ebola response.

    He graduated in Economics in 1991 from the Australian National University and began his career in the not-for-profit development sector in Cambodia and Vietnam in 1993. He is a senior career officer previously with the Department of Foreign Affairs and more recently with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet within the National Indigenous Australians’ Agency.

  • Kate Thomann (ex officio)

    Kate is the Executive Director, Education and Research at AIATSIS and is a proud Wiradjuri woman with over 28 years’ experience working in Indigenous affairs in the Australian Public Service. She has extensive experience in policy development and program delivery across a wide range of portfolio areas including Prime Minister and Cabinet; Health; Environment; Communications; Education; Arts and Culture; and Aboriginal Hostels. 

    Kate is also a former Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association.

    Kate has managed various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and program areas such as primary health care; health research; Stolen Generations and bringing them home; social and emotional well-being and mental health; substance use including volatile substance use and petrol sniffing; and Indigenous broadcasting, languages and culture. She has managed the secretariat functions for a variety of Indigenous ministerial advisory committees in Indigenous affairs, health and the environment. 

    Kate has an ongoing commitment to her professional and personal development as an Indigenous leader in the public sector. She completed the ANZSOG Toward Strategic Leadership Program and the inaugural Australian Indigenous Leadership Program through the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre. She has also completed the prestigious INSEAD International Business School’s Leading for Results Program, in Singapore, through a scholarship from the Roberta Sykes Foundation and Chief Executive Women. 

    Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology and Anthropology) from the Australian National University and a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Heritage and Culture from Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

Indigenous Research Exchange team

Tamsin Porter – Indigenous Country and Governance Senior Project Officer
Sally Ward – Indigenous Country and Governance Project Officer
Layla Phillips – Indigenous Country and Governance Project Officer
Dora Bowles – Indigenous Country and Governance Research Assistant
Josh Graham – Senior Developer Digital Services

Last updated: 12 August 2022