Summer school for Indigenous postgraduate students

5 Feb 2006

The School of Population Health, in conjunction with the Australian Indigenous Studies Program and the School of Anthropology Geography and Environmental Studies (SAGES), recently hosted the 4th Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia (ASSA) Summer School for Indigenous Postgraduate Students. Attended by more than 30 Indigenous higher degree students, all of whom are engaged in researching contemporary Indigenous life, culture and issues, the program encourages participants to talk about their areas of study and fosters an excellent mentoring system between the Indigenous students themselves.

Led by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and faculty from campuses and institutions around Australia, the summer school focused on topics and coursework in the health sciences and related social sciences. Students, along with their supervisors, came from ten universities for the week-long program, which provides an opportunity for students to explore and fine tune thesis topics and methodologies in a stimulating and supportive setting.

Highlights included Nobel Prize winning scientist and University of Melbourne Laureate Professor Peter Doherty (Microbiology and Immunology) discussing career and leadership development with Indigenous leader, Ms Kerrie Tim (Group Manager of Leadership Development in the Office of Indigenous Policy, Canberra), in a session chaired by Dr Maggie Walter (University of Tasmania) .

Professor Ian Anderson, Director of the MDHS Faculty’s Centre for Health and Society and Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, and Professor Ruth Fincher, Dean of Urban Planning at Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, were elect ed by the ASSA to be co-directors of the summer school. This year saw the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, Darwin , contribute to the event, which is predominantly funded through the Department of Education, Science and Training.

Developed by Professor Anderson and Onemda Deputy Director of Academic Programs Mr Shaun Ewen, the summer school was coordinated by Ms Heather Winter (SAGES). Students’ thesis topics included: an investigation of the experiences of recently released Indigenous people and their experiences in terms of current rehabilitation programs; the adoption of African rap culture by young Nunga men; and a collaborative community-based analysis of Anangu song-cycle.

Participant Noritta Morseu-Diop, a fourth-year PhD student, believes the summer school gave her ‘a better grounding in my Indigenous research methodologies and a greater understanding of the diverse Indigenous research methods. This helped to validate the importance of our people actively researching our own indigenous issues. It was such an honour to meet and spend the week with such wonderful and incredibly talented people.’

Summer school 2005

L–R: Professor Ian Anderson with Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, Dr Maggie Walter and Ms Kerrie Tim at the 2006 ASSA Summer School for Indigenous Postgraduate Students (Photo: Michael Silver, Photonet)