Indigenous research among winners in government funding

5th November 2012

An organisation headed by QUT that will enable more Indigenous people to move into the academic sphere was given a kick-start under the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants today.

QUT was today announced as the lead organisation for a National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network that will develop a connection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers throughout Australia.

Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson from QUT's Indigenous Studies Research Network (ISRN) will head the new Government research body, which today received $3.2 million in ARC funding.

Total funding to QUT for research projects was more than $7.6 million.

"The network is designed to facilitate the development of Indigenous researchers. It will allow us to bring people together to network and setup relationships with external partners and undertake joint projects," Professor Moreton-Robinson said.

"The network will encourage more Indigenous people to move into the academic sphere and enable us to run professional development workshops and programs for Indigenous students."

QUT is partnering with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies (AIATSIS), along with other universities and organisations to help lift the profile of Indigenous academics.

"There needs to be more Indigenous researchers," Professor Moreton-Robinson said.

"Those we have now are primarily involved in education, law and health but we also need more in social sciences and, science and IT.

"We should have more PhD students enrolled and more post-doctoral fellows as well as more collaborative research teams."

Dr Christine Satchell from QUT's Urban Informatics Lab received more than $370,000 over three years under the Discovery Early Career Researchers Award Scheme to develop mobile technology to help people feel safer in the city.

"I went to the clubs bars, cafes, mothers' groups, dog walking parks, train stations - you name it and immersed myself in the city to find out what problems people have that we could solve with technology and the thing that was abundantly clear was that people don't feel safe at night," Dr Satchell said.

"We then looked at different archetypes that use the city at night and how they protect themselves in different ways.

"One of the interesting things that came up was the very presence of a mobile phone allows people to feel more secure and in itself it provides a security measure, especially for women.

"They often said they felt empowered through a mobile phone because it does potentially represent some connection to help."

A further 14 research projects at QUT received funding in the latest ARC round:

  • Associate Professor Joanne Brownlee, Associate Professor Susan Walker, Professor Donna Berthelsen and Professor Eva Johansson received $375,000 to examine how children's beliefs about knowledge influence their reasoning about moral values and how these change as they progress through the early years of school.
  • Professor Sharon Christensen, Associate Professor Pamela O'Connor and Professor William Duncan received $367,000 to critically examine the national framework for the trading of carbon offsets credits. Based on case studies and analysis of international experience, this project will develop concepts and principles to guide the Australian States in providing clear and consistent legal definitions of transferable carbon property rights.
  • Professor John Bell, Associate Professor Yuantong Gu and Associate Professor Nunzio Motta received $360,000 for a novel multiscale modelling technique capable of taking account of the surface effects which are important for nanowires. It will enhance prediction accuracy and provide knowledge beyond current experimental measurements to underpin performance of new devices.
  • Prof Peter Timms, Associate Professor Garry Myers and Dr Adam Polkinghorne received $360,000 for research into Chlamydial infections of koalas and livestock. Molecular analysis of livestock and native animal strains will improve understanding of the factors associated with transmission of these important pathogens, improving the ability to manage affected Australian animal populations.
  • Associate Professor Renata Meuter, Emeritus Professor Cynthia Gallois, Professor Norman Segalowitz and Associate Professor Andrew Ryder received $317,412 for an international team of scholars to study language barriers in Australia's healthcare system arising from growing numbers of patients and clinicians not speaking English as their first language. The project's results will lay the foundation for future research and point to practical solutions.
  • Professor Colin Boyd, Professor Kenneth Paterson and Dr Douglas Stebila received $315,000 to look into Authentication for secure electronic communication. This project aims to make analysis of such protocols more realistic and more complete, allowing online communication to become more secure for both corporate users and individuals.
  • Professor Stephen Cox received $300,000 to optimise organizational benefits and resource intensive enterprise systems. This study investigates the impact of system-use on system success.
  • Associate Professor Tommy Chan and Professor David Thambiratnam received $300,000 for his project which will enhance the safety of prestressed concrete bridges, which constitute 70 per cent of Australian bridges. The procedure developed will evaluate the health status of these bridges and the prestressing force.
  • Professor Susan Grieshaber, Associate Professor Felicity McArdle, Professor Jennifer Sumsion and Paul Shields received $299,122 to investigates how educators respond to the requirement for play-based learning by identifying characteristics of successful educators and professional leaders, and strategies and practices that merge education and play.
  • Professor Helen Partridge, Professor Christine Bruce and Dr Ross Todd received $270,000 to help Australia's libraries contribute in a more powerful way to national productivity. It will establish an empirical basis for evidence-based library and information practice that will help library and information professionals make tough decisions in an environment where there is competition for limited resources.
  • Professor Terry Flew, Professor Brian McNair and Dr Stephen Harrington received $240,000 to explore the perceptions of ordinary Australians about the performance of the variety of media forms in which politics is reported, analysed and discussed.
  • Professor Barry Watson, Dr James Freeman and Dr Anders Wahlberg received $246,000 to better develop methods to collect self-reported data about motorists' driving behaviour in order to understand the factors associated with road crashes. The results will not only assist to identify 'at risk' drivers but also inform interventions designed to reduce crashes on Australian roads.
  • Professor Ian Campbell, Professor Christopher Fielding, Associate Professor Kyoungwon Min, Dr Scott Bryan and Dr Charlotte Allen received $230,000 for novel, multi-dating of continental sedimentary rocks to examine the effects of a high sediment flux from an enigmatic, major mountain-building event on a distant continental margin. This will expand our understanding of the range of tectonic influences between continental interiors and margins and onshore resource potential.
  • Professor Kerry Carrington, Dr Christine Bond and Dr Sanmantha Jeffries received $120,000 to examine significant shifts in the arrest and imprisonment rates of female offenders in Australia, especially for Indigenous women and girls throughout the past decade. Using a mix-methods approach, this project will explore changes in the sentencing of offending women and girls, compared to male offenders.
  • Professor Ephraim McLean and Dr Darshana Sedera received $100,000 to investigate the impact of system-use on system success. System-use patterns derived for all key user cohorts across the lifecycle phases will create management matrices to assist organizations maximise system-use.

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-Rose Trapnell, QUT media team leader, 07 3138 2999; 0407 585 901 or
-Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or

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