The Indigenous Studies Unit undertakes research aiming to improve outcomes in Indigenous health and wellbeing, particularly in relation to alcohol misuse and family violence, Indigenous data governance, digital archives, cultural heritage, technology and resource management. We make regular contributions to Parliamentary reviews and Inquiries, cross-platform media, and policy development.
We collaborate with international researchers in nations including France, Japan, Canada, the US, Cambodia, East Timor and India. We have partnerships across MDHS and other faculties including the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Science (including specific Centres such as the Poche Centre and Murrup Barak).
Our Unit consists of researchers from anthropology, medical anthropology, law and related disciplines. The group’s expertise in designing and implementing strategies for policy reform in Indigenous Australia is highly regarded.
Key research projects
Alcohol management plans in Indigenous communities
Indigenous communities have been central to the development of AMPs, however there has been very little research associated with documenting the effectiveness of the AMP approach, or into the appropriate implementation and evaluation frameworks necessary for such an approach to be evidence-based.
Indigenous family violence
This research investigates the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have experienced family violence, identifies practical and legal supports for men in these communities who perpetrate family violence, and the landscape of policy and legislation in this area.
Indigenous Data Network (IDN)
Assists Indigenous communities in developing the technical capability and resources to enable them to manage their data for community advancement.
Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project
A gateway to information about agreements between Indigenous people and others in Australia and overseas. Follow updates on Twitter.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula project
This project aims to empower all teachers to integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their teaching.
See our full list of research and related projects.
Key research projects
We conduct research that has contributed to improving outcomes in Australian Indigenous health, economic participation, cultural heritage, technology and resource management. Our research has led to significant impacts on government policy and legislative shifts.
Indigenous Data Network
Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula Project: Phase 1 and 2
Alcohol management in Indigenous communities
Indigenous family violence
Local Aboriginal Community Archives: The use of information technology and the National Broadband Network in disaster preparedness and recovery (2013-2016)
Aboriginal Remote Narrowcast Tv And The Audiovisual Archive (2018-2021)
Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial (RRM)
Return, Reconcile, Renew: Understanding The History, Effects & Opportunities Of Repatriation And Building An Evidence Base For The Future (2014-2017)
Reclaiming Performance Under Assimilation In Southeast Australia, 1935-75 (2018-2021)
Russ, Vanessa. 2021. A History of Aboriginal Art In the Art Gallery of New South Wales, New York: Routledge.
Liddle, J., Langton, M., Rose, J. W. W., & Rice, S. (2021). ‘New thinking about old ways: Cultural continuity for improved mental health of young Central Australian Aboriginal men’. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 1– 5.
Langton, M., Smith, K., Eastman, T., O’Neill, L., Rose, M., Cheesman, E. 2020, Improving family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (Research Report, 25/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.
Langton, M., Smith, K., Eastman, T., O’Neill, L., Rose, M., Cheesman, E. 2020, Family violence policies, legislation and services: Improving access and suitability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (Research Report, 26/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.
Huebner, S., Hermes, A., Easteal, S. 2020, ‘The practice of engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in genome research’, in L. MacDonald, J. Tuari, L. George (Eds), Indigenous Research Ethics: Claiming Research Sovereignty beyond deficit and the colonial legacy, Emerald Publishing, United Kingdom.
Prictor, M, Huebner, S, Teare, H, Burchill, L, Kaye, J 2020, ‘Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections of genetic heritage: considering the law, ethics and potential application of a Dynamic Consent approach for decision making’, The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol. 48, pp. 205-217.
Russ, Vanessa. 2020. ‘A New Art History of Australian Aboriginal Art’. International Journal of Art and Art History. vol.8 no.1. pp.48-57.
Russ, Vanessa & Gibson, Jason. 2020. 'Perth already has a museum of Indigenous art and culture. With proper funding, It could be our national centre’. The Conversation, 2 September.
Langton, M., 2019, Welcome to Country: An Introduction to Our First Peoples for Young Australians, Melbourne: Hardie Grant.
Longbottom, M., McGlade, H., Langton, M. and Clapham, K., 2019. Indigenous Australian children and the impact of adoption legislation in New South Wales. The Lancet, 393(10180), pp.1499-1500. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30252-1
Corn, A., Ormond-Parker, L., & De Largy Healy, J. (Eds.) 2019. Preservation, Digital Technology and Culture. Special Issue: A Reflection of the Day: Essays in Honour of Joseph Neparrŋa Gumbula. (Vol. 47, Iss. 1-2). Germany: De Gruyter.
Ormond-Parker, L., & Corn, A. 2019. Information technologies and Indigenous communities INTRODUCTION (Vol. 47). Routledge Journals.
Smith, K., Langton, M., Chenhall, R., Smith, P., Bawden, S. 2019. The Alcohol Management Plan at Pormpuraaw, Queensland, Australia: An ethnographic community-based study. Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Canberra.
Russ, V. 2019. Out of the Boxes: And Into the Desert. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. Perth: University of Western Australia.
Langton, M., 2018, Welcome to Country: A travel guide to Indigenous Australia, Melbourne: Hardie Grant (Winner of the 2019 Indie Book Award for Non Fiction).
Langton, M., 2018. For her, we must: No excuses, time to act. Griffith Review, (60), pp.328-338.
Langton, M. 2018. Traditional Aboriginal Healing Practice, in Healy, J. (Ed), The Art of Healing Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine. Melbourne: The University of Melbourne.
Corn, A., Ormond-Parker, L., & De Largy Healy, J. (2018). From the Guest Editors, Aaron Corn with Lyndon Ormond-Parker and Jessica de Largy Healy. Preservation, Digital Technology and Culture, 47(3-4), 68-69.
Langton, M. (2018). Joe Gumbula, the Inaugural Liya-ŋärra’mirri Visiting Fellow. Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture, 47(3-4), 91-101.
Russ, V. 2018. Stockyards and Saddles: A Story of Gibb River Station. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. Perth: University of Western Australia.
Smith, K. 2017, ‘The cashless debit card trial: A public health, rights-based approach to better health and social outcomes’, Indigenous Law Bulletin, (8) 29, pp. 22-27.
Russ, Vanessa.2017. Milingimbi: A Living Culture. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. Perth: University of Western Australia.
Davis, M. & Langton, M. (eds.) 2016. It's Our Country: Indigenous Arguments for Meaningful Constitutional Recognition and Reform, Carlton: Melbourne University Publishing.
Smith, K., Chenhall, R., McGuire, S., Kowal, E. 2016, Digital futures in Indigenous communities: From health kiosks to community hubs, Melbourne Networked Society Institute, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, pp.1-48.
Huebner, S. & Flowers, E. 2016, It’s a resting place, where our spirits go’: bringing back lost ancestor memories to Western Australia’s Great Southern – Noongar boodja, Journal of Arts & Communities, 8:1+2, pp. 75-92.
Langton, M., Smith, K., Chenhall, R., 2016. Indigenous Narratives about alcohol impacts and sobriety, The Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference, Melbourne Conference Centre, Australia, 8-10 November.
Ormond-Parker, L., Langton, M., Huebner, S., Coleman, J., Pearson, C., Sloggett, R., . . . Clarke, K. (2016). When Magnets Collide: Digital Preservation and Access of At-Risk Audiovisual Archives in a Remote Aboriginal Community (1). Parkville, Australia: Melbourne Networked Society Institute, The University of Melbourne.
Smith, K., Langton, M. & Chenhall, R. 2015, Alcohol policy and assemblages of intervention: Managing alcohol in Indigenous communities, Addiction 2015: Alcohol, Other Drugs, Behavioural Addictions: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, Surfers Paradise, Australia, 20 – 22 May 2015, pp. 101-114.
Smith, K., Langton, M., d'Abbs, P., Room R., Chenhall, R. & Brown, A. 2014. Alcohol Management Plans, in Elizabeth Manton, Robin Room, Caterina Giorgi and Michael Thorn (eds) Stemming the tide of alcohol: Liquor licensing and the public interest. Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education in collaboration with The University of Melbourne, Canberra, pp.167-76.1
Smith, K., Langton, M, Chenhall, R, 2014. Alcohol Management Plans in the Northern Territory: At the intersection of policy, social and spatial dynamics, Kettil Bruun Society Thematic Conference on Alcohol Policy Research, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Melbourne, Australia, 8-11 September 2014.
Freemantle, C.J., Ritte, R., Smith, K., Iskander, D., Cutler, T., Heffernan, B., Zhong, G., Mensah., F & Read, A. 2014. Victorian Aboriginal Child Mortality Study: Patterns, Trends and Disparities in Mortality between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Infants and Children, 1998-2008, Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute.
Smith, K., Langton, M., d'Abbs, P., Room, R., Chenhall, R., & Brown, A. 2013. Alcohol management plans and related reforms, Sydney: Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse.
Huebner, S. 2013, ‘A digital community project for the recuperation, activation and emergence of Victorian Koorie knowledge, culture and identity’, in L Ormond-Parker, A Corn, C Fforde, K Obatz & S O’Sullivan (eds), Information Technology and Indigenous Communities, AIATSIS, Canberra, pp. 171-184.
Leonard, S. N., Mackenzie., Kofod., Parsons., Langton, M. , . . . Smith, K. 2013. Indigenous climate change adaptation in the Kimberley region of North-western Australia: Final Report. AU (Parkville): University of Melbourne.
O’Connell, J., Ormond-Parker, L., Spunner, S., & Sloggett, R. (2013). Waringarri Aboriginal Arts: Rethinking practices in conservation documentation through assessing the needs of a community arts centre. AICCM Bulletin, 34(1), 75-84.
Ormond-Parker, L. C., & Spunner, S. (2013). L'invention aborigene de la technologie et la museologie cooperative. In V. Gaulter, C. Cohen, M. Surya, C. Gaunt, L. Garond, J. deVoge, & A. Morvan (Eds.), Memoires Vives une histoire de l'art Aborigene (2013 ed., pp. 194-202). FR: Editions de la Martiniere.
Ormond-Parker, L., Corn, A., Obata, K., & O'Sullivan, S. 2013, Information technology and indigenous communities, Canberra: AIATSIS.
The Indigenous Studies Unit podcast explores our key research projects, insights and areas of interest, in the voice of researchers themselves.
Episode 1: Professor Marcia Langton on alcohol-related family violence
Professor Marcia Langton discusses one of the Indigenous Studies Unit's current projects, ‘Improving understandings of and responses to alcohol-related family violence for Aboriginal people’.
Find out more about our research into alcohol management in Indigenous communities.
Episode 2: Dr Kristen Smith on family violence research
Senior Research Fellow Dr Kristen Smith discusses two research reports on family violence: ‘Improving family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’ and ‘Improving family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who are perpetrators of family violence’, published at the end of 2020.
Find out more about our research into Indigenous family violence.