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AIATSIS unveils the prestigious Stanner Award shortlist 2023

AIATSIS has announced the 2023 Stanner Award shortlist. The prestigious Stanner Award recognises Australia’s best academic text by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writer. The award is open to all Indigenous Australian authors, scholars, and academics, and a panel of esteemed scholars renowned for their expertise evaluates, shortlists, and ultimately selects the winning manuscript.  

The winner receives $5,000 in editorial support leading to publication by Aboriginal Studies Press and a glass sculpture crafted by the celebrated artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello. 

The award pays homage to the exceptional legacy of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner, who was instrumental in the establishment and growth of AIATSIS. His impact resonates throughout the organisation, and the Stanner Award serves as a testament to his continuing influence. 

AIATSIS is pleased to announce that this year’s Stanner Award shortlist is Dr Bartholomew Stanford, Dr Janine Gertz and Dr Wendy Hermerston.  

Dr Bartholomew Stanford’s thesis -- ‘The relationship between local governments and Indigenous institutions: a comparative case study’ -- investigates how interactions between local governments and Indigenous institutions impact relations between the two groups. Dr Stanford hypothesises that ‘relations between local governments and Indigenous institutions are oriented towards mainstream values, principles and regulatory requirements, which has the unintended effect of marginalising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from local government processes.’ He concludes: ‘Without stronger impetus from legislation, local governments will continue to ignore Indigenous institutions while maintaining the barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this crucial level of government.’ 

Dr Janine Gertz’s thesis -- ‘Gugu Badhun Sovereignty, Self-Determination and Nationhood’ -- argues that a Gugu Badhun nation and government that sits alongside and separate to the Australian government and nation would decolonise and increase the power of Gugu Badhun citizens. Dr Gertz hypothesises that ‘a political voice of a nation as opposed to a voice of a native title corporation’ would wield more power in transactions such as treaty negotiations. The thesis offers more than theory, it explores practical ideas for increased self-realisation and self-legitimisation through ‘community planning and programs of language revitalisation’ and ‘through a policy platform of data sovereignty and health and wellbeing programs’. The thesis asserts that by political constitution-making, Gugu Badhun Sovereignty and Nationhood can be reconfigured and reconceptualised. 

Dr Wendy Hermeston’s thesis -- ‘Safe, protected . . . connected? The best interests of Aboriginal children and permanency planning in the NSW care and protection system’ -- challenges Australia’s law makers, particularly the law reforms introduced over the last decade in NSW intended to achieve stability for children in care but, as Dr Hermeston asserts, have taken Indigenous people and families backwards. The thesis argues that the law is out of step with the Indigenous community interviewed in this study and leaves little room for understandings about child-rearing and family life that fall outside Eurocentric constructs. This qualitative study centres Aboriginal voices in the child welfare discourse and shares new knowledge about the long-held knowledge and concepts of Aboriginal communities and families. 

The judging panel for the 2023 Stanner Award, consisting of Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Emeritus Professor Tim Rowse, and Emerita Professor Jane Simpson, described the three shortlisted theses as "exciting," "compelling," and "beautifully written." They also noted that the theses held "great lessons." 

AIATSIS Acting CEO Leonard Hill will announce the winner of the 2023 Stanner Award in late October. 



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Last updated: 13 November 2023