Featured past event:
2015 Annual ANU Reconciliation Lecture

Each year, a renowned Australian individual is invited to speak publicly on the topic of reconciliation. In 2015, the lecture was given by The Honourable Mr Kevin Rudd.

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<strong>Featured past event:</strong> <br />2015 Annual ANU Reconciliation Lecture

Featured past event:
‘Repatriation stories from a far away land’

A public lecture by NCIS Adjunct Fellow Dr C. Timothy McKeown, a legal anthropologist whose research focuses on the development and implementation of repatriation policy.

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<strong>Featured past event:</strong> <br />‘Repatriation stories from a far away land’

Featured past event:
Graduate research retreat

NCIS hosts an annual workshop for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) scholars who are Indigenous to Australia, or are undertaking research into indigenous topics.

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<strong>Featured past event:</strong><br />Graduate research retreat

Featured past event:
Justice Reinvestment Forum

2 August 2012: NCIS co-hosted a 1-day discussion forum with academic and government leaders, about issues related to Justice Reinvestment.

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<strong>Featured past event:</strong><br />Justice Reinvestment Forum

Featured past event:
Common Roots: Common Futures conference

20 – 22 February 2012: NCIS co-hosted a 3-day conference and workshop at the University of Arizona, focusing on national and international Indigenous governance and development.

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<strong>Featured past event:</strong><br />Common Roots: Common Futures conference



Conference: 'Defending country: Sharing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service'

Hosted by the Serving Our Country research project at NCIS, this conference brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans, former and currently-serving personnel and family members, researchers, community organisations and representatives from the project Partner Organisations to discuss issues of remembrance and commemoration of Indigenous service. The conference will contribute to the development of research outputs for the project as well as promote wider recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans and ex-service personnel.

Panel discussions during the conference will feature Veterans, ex-service women and men, and other key researchers. Discussion topics will include:

  • citizenship and activism
  • labour and defence service (including auxiliary services such as coastguards)
  • commemoration and remembrance
  • women and Defence Service
  • families and the Home Front
  • social justice: land, health care and pensions, plus legal issues.

Other conference activities will include:

  • a project-specific guided tour of the Australian War Memorial led by the Australian War Memorial Indigenous Liaison Officer
  • curator-led workshops on caring for photos and papers, and finding out more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service and other records
  • recording of oral and video histories with Veterans and ex-service people.

Time & venue: 9am – 5pm, Monday 1 December – Wednesday 3 December; Crawford School, The Australian National University, Canberra. » map

Enquiries & RSVP: For more information about the conference, please visit the Defending Country conference webpage or contact Kate Macfarlane on kate.macfarlane@anu.edu.au or 02 6125 8437.


The 2014 Annual ANU Reconciliation Lecture

Each year, a renowned Australian is invited to speak publicly on the topic of reconciliation. The 2014 lecture will be given by Senior Australian of the Year 2014 and Reconciliation advocate, The Hon Fred Chaney AO.

Time & venue: 6 – 7pm followed by refreshments; Arc Cinema, National Film and Sound Archive, 1 McCoy Circuit, Acton, ACT.

Enquiries & RSVP: The event is free and open to the public. Registration is essential. For further details, please contact the NCIS Centre Administrator, Ms Tamai Heaton, on ncis@anu.edu.au or 6125 6708.

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Public lecture: ‘Repatriation stories from a far away land: Progress and obstacles in the repatriation of Indigenous human remains in the USA’

It has been nearly 25 years since the United States enacted sweeping federal legislation regarding the repatriation of Native American human remains and other cultural items. The two federal statutes – the National Museum of the American Indian Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act – require the Smithsonian Institution, all federal agencies, and all institutions that receive federal funds (over 1000 in all) to provide inventories of their collections to Indigenous communities and, upon request, repatriate human remains and associated funerary objects to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organisations. Other provisions require the disposition of Native American human remains and funerary objects recently found on federal or tribal lands (about one third of the land area of the U.S.) to appropriate Indigenous groups as well as apply criminal penalties to the illegal trafficking of such items. The estimated repatriation of the remains of over 60,000 individuals and over a million funerary objects is one of the largest and broadest transfers of "museum property" to date. But much remains to be done as the remains of another 130,000 individuals and a million funerary objects remain on museum shelves. This presentation will review the progress made and obstacles encountered in implementing repatriation law in the U.S. and offer thoughts on the applicability of some of these processes to the repatriation of Australian Indigenous remains from U.S. and other museums.

NCIS Adjunct Fellow Dr C. Timothy McKeown is a legal anthropologist whose career has focused on the application of anthropological research methodologies to enhance thoughtful policy development, effective statutory implementation, and fact-based judicial resolution. For 18 years, Tim served as a Federal official responsible for drafting regulations implementing Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), developing databases to document compliance, establishing a grants program, investigating allegations of failure to comply for possible civil penalties, coordinating the activities of a Secretarial advisory committee, and providing training and technical assistance to nearly 1000 museums and Federal agencies and 700 Indian tribes, Alaska Native corporations, and Native Hawaiian organisations. Since 2010, Tim has also consulted on repatriation of cultural items with several Indian tribes, prepared policy recommendations, and provided training at annual meetings of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. The University of Arizona Press recently published his comprehensive review of the legislative history of U.S. Federal repatriation mandates In the Smaller Scope of Conscience: The Struggle for National Repatriation Legislation, 1986-1990.

Tim previously served as a Fulbright professor and researcher at Janus Pannonius University (now the University of Pécs) in Hungary. He was recently awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant and will spend November 2014 in Australia working with NCIS on the ARC Linkage project 'Return, Reconcile, Renew: understanding the history, effects and opportunities of repatriation and building an evidence base for the future' being conducted at the Centre.

Time & venue: 4–5pm, Tuesday 25 November; Theatrette (room 2.02), Sir Roland Wilson Building (building 120), McCoy Circuit, ANU campus.

Enquiries & RSVP: This lecture is free and open to the public. To RSVP to attend this event and for further details please visit the event registration page. For further details, please contact the NCIS Centre Administrator, Ms Tamai Heaton, on ncis@anu.edu.au or 6125 6708.


National Press Club address: It's not too late to secure Australia’s Indigenous heritage

As chair of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Professor Mick Dodson addressed the nation at the National Press Club in the context of AIATSIS' fiftieth anniversary and its unique nature as an institution which has survived longer than many government agencies.

Professor Dodson encouraged the nation the think about what they would leave their children and their children's children, more so their contribution to the Australian Nation which will be measured by the legacy they build or fail to build now.

Since its establishment, AIATSIS now holds the most extensive and best contextualised collection of Indigenous Australia in the world. The Institute's Australian languages collection is included on the UNESCO memory of the World Register, along with remarkable dated collections such as the Gutenberg Bible. AIATSIS holds eight million feet of film and, if placed from end to end, this will cover from top to bottom of Australia!

'The collection includes the only recorded sound of many languages of Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, and it contains a recording of my grandfather, Paddy Djaiween, telling Yawuru stories and singing ancient Yawuru songs', Professor Dodson said. These records have proved immensely helpful to reconnect generations with their culture and find lost family, and assist traditional owners, mining companies and pastoralists, draft and settle native tittle claims.

AIATSIS is working hard to develop new partnerships with Australian and international corporations, governments and individuals who can contribute to the building of a facility to house these collections in Canberra. The facility will be for all people from all walks of lives all over the world who are keen to know and understand more about the world's longest continuous civilisation and of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

» read more on the AIATSIS website


Public lecture: ‘Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians’

Despite being the first peoples of Australia for more than 50,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still not recognised in the Australian Constitution. Support is fast growing for the idea of an updated Constitution that reflects the reality of Australia today. The Federal Government, with bi-partisan support, has announced that it will hold a referendum in the current term of government, or at the next election, to amend the Australian Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians.

This lecture is presented by the ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment in association with the ANU Medical School, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health and the Indigenous Health Interest Group.

Time & venue: 5–6pm, Wednesday 12 November; Finkel Lecture Theatre, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Building 131, Garran Road, ANU.

Enquiries & RSVP: This lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by light refreshments. Registration is required. For further details, please contact Nicole Millar on nicole.millar@gmail.com or 6125 5209.


Public lecture: 'Black Seeds: Examining the myth of Hunting and Gathering and how this assumption has affected the relationship and dialogue between Aboriginal people and the Australian mainstream'

'If we look at the evidence presented to us by the explorers and explain to our children that Aboriginal people did build houses, did build dams, did sow, irrigate and till the land, did alter the course of rivers, did sew their clothes, and did construct a system of pan-continental government that generated peace and prosperity, then it is likely we will admire and love our land all the more.' Bruce Pascoe in Dark Emu.

Bruce Pascoe is a Bunurong/Tasmanian Yuin man and winner of the Australian Literature Award (Shark) 1999, Radio National Short Story 1998, FAW Short Story 2010, Prime Minister's Award for Literature (Young Adult) 2013 and published and edited Australian Short Stories magazine 1982-1999. His books include: Night Animals; Fox; Ruby-eyed Coucal; Shark; Ocean; Earth; Cape Otway: Coast of Secrets; Convincing Ground: Learning to Fall in Love With your Country; and Little Red Yellow Black Book. His most recent books are: Bloke, published by Penguin in 2009; The Chainsaw File, Oxford, 2010; Fog; a dox, Magabala, 2012 (2013 PM's Award); and Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?, the history of Aboriginal agriculture, was published in 2014 (reprinted four times since March) and short-listed in the Victorian Premiers' Literary awards in 2014.

He is a board member of Aboriginal Corporation for Languages and First languages Australia, and past Secretary Bidwell-Maap Aboriginal Nation. Bruce lives in Gipsy Point, Far East Gippsland with wife, Lyn Harwood. He has two children and three grandchildren.

Time & venue: Friday 7 November 2014; Law link Building, ANU campus.

Enquiries & RSVP: Please contact the NCIS Centre Administrator, Ms Tamai Heaton, on ncis@anu.edu.au or 6125 6708. The event is free and open to the public.


NCIS writing retreat

NCIS staff and Higher Degree Research (HDR) scholars participate in an annual week-long writing retreat at the Kioloa Coastal Campus of ANU. The week is loosely structured with a primary focus on writing, and with opportunities for discussion, sorting out knotty writing problems, and enhancing writing skills.

Time & venue: Monday 13 – Friday 17 October 2014; Kioloa Coastal Campus located on the NSW south coast.

Enquiries & RSVP: Please contact the NCIS Centre Administrator, Associate Professor Cressida Fforde.


NCIS graduate research retreat

NCIS will host its fifth retreat for Higher Degree Research (HDR) scholars undertaking research into Indigenous topics. The retreat is an opportunity for Indigenous HDR scholars and scholars researching in Indigenous studies to engage in intellectual discussion, networking and information sharing.

Time & venue: Wednesday 8 – Friday 10 October 2014; Ibis Styles Canberra Eagle Hawk resort, located on the Federal Highway at the ACT/NSW border.

Enquiries: Please email the NCIS HDR Program Manager, Dr Asmi Wood or phone 02 6125 8141. The event is free and places are limited.

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Public lecture: ‘Land, property and authority: Creating a new model of Indigenous land rights and legal pluralism in Vanuatu informed by the principles of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT)’

Siobhan McDonnell, legal advisor to the Minister of Lands, Vanuatu

Since Vanuatu became independent in 1980, ten per cent of the total land area – previously held as customary land by Indigenous people under customary systems of management – has been leased. This represents a large-scale exclusion of Indigenous people from landscapes. Historically, the key actor in the exclusion of Indigenous people (termed custom owners in law) from landscapes has been the Minister of Lands. This paper will map the role of the Minister in leasing customary land and describe the way that land law in Vanuatu has enabled this «land grab» to occur.

Starting from the idea that law is foundationally a cultural product imbued with authority, Siobhan will argue that the «cultural power» of law in Vanuatu is evident in the continued Anglo-Colonial legal legacy and corresponding ideas of Indigenous landscapes as property. Vanuatu's formal legal system manufactures a prescriptive identity for people engaged in land transactions; that of «custom owner» which has the potential to reconfigure indigenous notions of person and place.

So, is there a way to make better laws that address the powers of the Minister over land and allow better protection for more flexible customary arrangements over landscapes? Siobhan will conclude by describing the recent Constitutional and land reform amendments that she drafted in Vanuatu, that create legal pluralism and allow for customary institutions to make final and binding determinations in law. These amendments, gazetted in February 2014, include substantial revisions to the Land Reform Act that require free, prior and informed consent from custom owner groups and other «affected groups» and are based on some of the drafting framework of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT).

Siobhan McDonnell is a lawyer, economist and anthropologist who spent ten years working in Indigenous policy in Australia for the Central Land Council, Reconciliation Australia and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at ANU. In 2009, she began working and living in Vanuatu where she was the legal advisor to the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and the land law advisor to the Attorney General of Vanuatu. Since 2013, she has been the legal advisor to the Minister of Lands in Vanuatu and was also the principal drafter of the recent land reform and Constitutional amendments subsequently gazetted in Vanuatu in February 2014. Siobhan is currently in the final months of finishing a PhD in legal anthropology titled: Possessing Paradise: Land, Law and Authority in Vanuatu.

Time & venue: 4 – 5pm; Phillipa Weeks Staff Library, ANU College of Law.

Enquiries & RSVP: The event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required.


Project launch: 'Serving Our Country: A history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia'

'Serving our Country: A history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia' is an ARC-funded research project based at ANU, and is led by Professor Mick Dodson, Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. The project will be officially launched by Professor Margaret Harding, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Time & venue: 12.30pm, Royal Theatre, National Convention Centre Canberra.

Enquiries: Please contact the Project Coordinator, Kate Macfarlane, on Kate.Macfarlane@anu.edu.au or 02 6125 8437.

» read more about this project

Updated:  13 January 2016/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer