Dr Stephanie Gilbert

Dr Stephanie Gilbert

Senior Lecturer

Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous Cultural Studies)

Ways of Seeing: an insight into Aboriginality

Dr Stephanie Gilbert is exploring Aboriginality - both within a tertiary education framework and in relation to the Stolen Generations and how it may impact on future generations. 

Stephanie Gilbert

A background in social work has added a distinctive lens to Stephanie’s academic research, providing a nuanced insight to an important cultural study. Stephanie’s experience in the field of adoption is brought to the fore when she’s exploring the forced removals, fostering and adoption of Aboriginal children of the Stolen Generations and how it has impacted on people practicing Aboriginality.

Stephanie’s sharply focussed postgraduate research has helped inform her ongoing research, exploring into how ‘child protection’ policies have impacted on the development of a sense of identity.

An honours degree from North Queensland’s James Cook University saw Stephanie examine the Stolen Generations through the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century.

For her Masters in Women’s Studies, Stephanie explored a gendered angle on child removals: “There’s a particular way that these removals played out with the female experience and I wanted to make sure that the story was told .”

Then, when undertaking her PhD, Stephanie investigated how people who were removed from their Aboriginal families of origin chose to relate to their Indigenous heritage.

This is a topic that still fuels her research to this day. Stephanie’s current focus is more particularly body dysphoria, and she’s interested in testing out whether this notion is experienced by other Indigenous peoples around the globe.

The shadow memory and communal wounds

Stephanie’s interest in epigenetics was sharpened whilst attending a conference at Stanford on Soul Wounds. “It explored the concept that a community can experience a communal wound from an event. I heard Dr Michael Skinner speak at this conference on “Ancestoral Ghosts in Your Genome” and it spoke to a concept that I was already thinking about.”

“You’ll have an individual who actually experiences something that they’ll then pass on to their children. My question is: what is the connection between the body and identity as part of their inheritance?”

Research indicates that the damage caused by forced removals in the past is still felt by present generations, which is the focus of Stephanie’s latest research exploring ‘soul wounds’ and epigenetics. “It’s thought that up to seven generations can be impacted upon by what’s happened to the generations before. This has been explored through research through the Jewish populations where people are still experiencing trauma from generations earlier,” Stephanie explains.

“I’m keen to explore what gets implanted in the genome and passed on to the next generations,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie has also been inspired by research where there was a realisation that trauma in early life can actually change the shape of the brain. With the Stolen Generation, there is a sense of disconnect between the body and the identity which forms part of the psyche through the assimilation policies. “Body dysphoria in children of the Stolen Generation is strong, with Aboriginal children being told they’re white – but others seeing them as brown,” Stephanie explains.

“The problem is that there’s no easy way to negotiate Aboriginality in public – I think it’s considered a ‘political act’. If you’re not taught the Aboriginal ways of being and don’t have a connection to country can you consider yourself Aboriginal? There’s a disparity between people who get to have these things and those who don’t.”

A global perspective on an Indigenous issue

Having immersed herself in this research in Australia, Stephanie’s next step is to see what she can learn from other cultures.

In March 2017, Stephanie was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship which she’ll use to examine the possibility that trauma can become embedded in people’s bodies in such a way that it can be transmitted across generations. “There’s an idea of a shadow memory which can exist in up to seven generations,” Stephanie says. “But can you get to a point where it doesn’t express?”

Stephanie will be exploring the dichotomy between children being raised as white, and the disconnect between what they’re told they are and what they see. “What if a Stolen Generations person were to look down at themselves, see brown skin and feel nothing but disgust?” Stephanie asks. “This has happened because many had no exposure or experience of Aboriginal culture or family and were taught that they were not Aboriginal at all.”

With her Fulbright scholarship, Stephanie will visit the US and Canada to compare and contrast Indigenous peoples such as Native Americans and the Indigenous Canadian people to see if a similar experience exists. “I’ll be looking at these issues from an archived and a living perspective. The archives won’t answer everything, but will hopefully reveal similarities of experience. We know that in the US the cutting of hair played a major role in identity, which wasn’t the case in Australia. But what are the similarity of experiences in knowing who you are?”

Aboriginality and academia

This raises the question, and highlights the second stream of Stephanie’s work – how can we help students and academics support the multiplicity of circumstances around Aboriginality. “What do universities do to provide support for this multiplicity? That’s why I have this interest. We’re challenged all the time to understand how Aboriginality can operate – but do we understand it? There’s a misconception that Aboriginality is about what you look like, but it’s also about what you feel like. There’s a multiplicity of circumstances that people find themselves in and we need to engage with that.”

When Stephanie first came to the University of Newcastle it was to improve the entry for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to higher education through the Yapug pathway to University. “Back then Yapug was medicine-only, but now it’s housed at Birabahn and proudly gives Indigenous students entry into all sorts of studies,” Stephanie explains.

Over her time at UON, Stephanie’s seen students graduate across many undergraduate degrees, PhD or Masters by research degrees. “Indigenous peoples have long been underrepresented in the higher education system and my goal is to make a space in institutions for Indigenous people in knowledge and ways of learning. And to ultimately lift participation numbers.”

As coordinator of Teaching Quality and Development at The Wollotuka Institute, Stephanie manages to balance her research and academic workload astutely. “You’ve just got to focus on what’s important and allow yourself to push some things to the side,” she says.

With her Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship, Stephanie will bring an even greater global focus to an issue that’s still poorly understood by many. It’s giving a voice to those who were silenced in the Stolen Generation and will bring a new perspective on an important, ongoing issue in Australia. It’s a tough conversation – but one we need to have.

Stephanie Gilbert

Ways of Seeing: an insight into Aboriginality

Reflecting on our country’s past and critically thinking about its future, Associate Professor Stephanie Gilbert is seeking to bring disparate communities toget

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Career Summary

Biography

I moved to Newcastle in 1997 and worked as a social worker until joining the uni in 1999. I completed a masters in late 1999 and then have worked on papers and other things until 2004 when I enrolled in a masters by research with a view to upgrading in 2008. I worked part-time and then full-time in the enabling programs unit until the beginning of 2006 when my position moved to Wollotuka: School of Aboriginal Studies.

In 2012 I graduated from a Phd History with my topic being: Women and Constructing Re-membering: Identity Formation in the Stolen Generations.

I currently work as Associate Professor, Coordinator Teaching Quality and Development at The Wollotuka Institute.

I supervise two rhd students and one honours student at this point in time.

My major publications include: "Our Voices: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Work" by (Eds) B. Bennet, S. Green, S. Gilbert, D. Bessarab, 2013, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra, Australia and I have contributed to the development of social work's understandings of Aboriginal people and communities through chapters like my up coming chapter Self-reflective, non-racist social work practice in the neoliberal context of human services in "Doing Critical Social Work" Pease, B, Godingay, S, Hosken, N & Nipperess, S. about to be published by Allen and Unwin.

Research Expertise
Most of my work has been centered around Aboriginal communities and education with a particular focus on the removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Indigenous social work practice and Aboriginal education have also featured highly in my research practice.

Teaching Expertise
I consider the bulk of my teaching expertise to be in enabling education. I currently coordinate the University's enabling program for Indigenous people and teach in areas of learning skills and professional skills in social welfare and health fields.

Administrative Expertise
I currently administer all the courses I teach in and also the enabling program I coordinate. I work also for two Boards of studies and two curriculum teaching and learning committees.

Collaborations
My primary collaboration to this point has been the development of the Our Voices text which initially was lead by an author group of ten Indigeneous social workers who met across Australia to develop this work.

Qualifications

  • PhD (History), University of Newcastle
  • Graduate Diploma of Education (Tertiary Teaching), James Cook University
  • Bachelor of Social Work (Honours), James Cook University
  • Associate Diploma in Community Welfare, James Cook University
  • Master of Arts, Deakin University

Keywords

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • Pearl Gibbs
  • Social Work
  • Stolen generations
  • enabling teaching

Languages

  • Aboriginal English, so described (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
080601 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Information and Knowledge Systems 60
169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society 30
130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education 10

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
Indigenous Education and Research
Australia
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/07/2012 - 30/06/2015 Coordinator- Teaching Quality and Development The University of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia
1/06/1999 - 1/12/1999 Research Assistant University of Western Sydney
Arts
Australia
1/01/1990 - 1/01/1996 Lecturer James Cook University
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
Member - Research Advisory Committee, ARC Research Project Reviewing Indigenous Content in Social Work Degrees Across Australia ARC Research Project
Australia
Hunter Branch President - Australian Association of Social Workers Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
Australia
Member - Expert Reference Group for Coag Measures in Mental Health for Indigenous Communities, Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/02/1997 - 1/04/1998 Fostercare Broker Centacare Newcastle
Social Worker
Australia

Awards

Research Award

Year Award
2013 RHD Research Excellence Commendation
University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Invitations

Distinguished Visitor

Year Title / Rationale
2015 Navigating the Grey
Navigating the Grey, Key note speech 4th Year Students conference
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Highlighted Publications

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Gilbert SL, 'Aboriginal Issues In Context', Social Work: Contexts and Practice, 3e, OUP Australia & New Zealand, Melbourne 111-123 (2013)
2016 Gilbert SL, 'Challenges for Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners in the neoliberal context', Doing Critical Social Work Theory in Practice, Allen & Unwin, Sydney (2016) [B1]

Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2012 Gilbert S, Our Voices: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Work, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra, Vic, 255 (2012)

Chapter (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Gilbert SL, 'Challenges for Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners in the neoliberal context', Doing Critical Social Work Theory in Practice, Allen & Unwin, Sydney (2016) [B1]
2013 Gilbert SL, 'Aboriginal Issues In Context', Social Work: Contexts and Practice, 3e, OUP Australia & New Zealand, Melbourne 111-123 (2013)
2012 Gilbert SL, 'Author's Introduction', Our Voices, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra xiii-xvi (2012)
2012 Gilbert SL, 'The People Who Populate Aboriginal Social Work', Our Voices, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra 26-49 (2012)
2012 Gilbert SL, Menzies K, 'Engaging Communities', Our Voices, Palgrave Macmillan, South Yarra 50-72 (2012)
2009 Gilbert SL, 'Aboriginal Issues In Context', Social Work, Oxford University Press, Sydney 94-106 (2009)
2007 Gilbert S, 'Another World, not a Brave New World: Is there a place for Aboriginal people in higher education?', , Acer Press, Victoria, (2007) [B2]
2005 Gilbert SL, 'Social Work with Indigenous Australians', Social Work - Fields of Practice, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne 62-72 (2005) [B2]
2005 Gilbert SL, ''Never forgotten': Pearl Gibbs (Gambanyi)', Uncommon Ground - White Women in Aboriginal History, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra 107-125 (2005) [B1]
1998 Gilbert SL, 'Seeking A Place.', Talking Up: Young Women's Take on Feminism, Spinifex Press, North Melbourne 174-182 (1998)
1993 Gilbert SL, 'The Effects of Colonisation on Aboriginal Families: Issues and Strategies for Child Welfare Policies', Child Welfare Policy: Critical Australian Perspectives, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney 10 (1993)
Show 8 more chapters

Journal article (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Gilbert SL, ''Telling It How it Was': For What?', Ngiya: Talk the Law, 5 100-110 (2016)
2008 Gilbert SL, 'Social work with indigenous communities', Australian Social Work, 61 436-439 (2008) [C3]
DOI 10.1080/03124070802430866
2002 Gilbert SL, 'Book Review: Lesbians and Lesbian Families: Relections On Theory & Practice', Australian Social Work: The Journal of The Australian Association of Social Workers, 55, No.1, March 88-89 (2002) [C3]
Gilbert S, Tillman G, 'Teaching Practise Utilising Embedded Indigenous Cultural Standards', The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 1-9
DOI 10.1017/jie.2017.4
Co-authors Gail Tillman
Show 1 more journal article

Review (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Chrystall A, Johnson-Woods T, Laugesen A, Laugesen A, Franks R, Braae N, et al., 'BOOK REVIEWS', Australasian Journal of Popular Culture (2013)
DOI 10.1386/ajpc.2.3.487_5
2002 Gilbert SL, 'Book Review', Australian Social Work: The Journal Of The Australian Association of Social Workers (2002) [D1]
1982 Mautner T, Carlson GR, Vuckovic V, Heil J, Martin R, McGinn C, et al., 'Book reviews', Philosophia (1982)
DOI 10.1007/BF02380845
1982 Mautner T, Carlson GR, Vuckovic V, Heil J, Martin R, McGinn C, et al., 'Book reviews', Philosophia (1982)
DOI 10.1007/BF02380845
Show 1 more review

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Fletcher GL, 'Speaking from our CORE: Reviving Indigenous Community as Pedagogical Practice', Peer Reviewed Abstract (2014) [E3]
Co-authors Maree Gruppetta
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 7
Total funding $141,755

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20171 grants / $30,500

Fulbright Indigenous Postdoctoral Scholarship$30,500

Living As Indigenous Inside The Dysmorphic Body

Funding body: Australian-American Fulbright Association

Funding body Australian-American Fulbright Association
Scheme Postdoctoral Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding External
Category EXTE
UON N

20163 grants / $74,977

Indigenous enabling: What Works? Developing a national conversation around enabling education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through a comprehensive audit of current provision$49,977

Funding body: Department of Education

Funding body Department of Education
Project Team Associate Professor Maree Gruppetta, Doctor Stephanie Gilbert, Doctor Sally Baker, Ms Evonne Irwin, Ms Helen Cameron
Scheme Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo G1600136
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Commonwealth
Category 2OPC
UON Y

Research Initiative Development Incentive Scheme$20,000

‘Developing Aboriginality at university’

This research project involves investigating the research questions: how are Aboriginal students currently supported around identity questions by Australians universities and how do students themselves understand their identity journey within universities? 

Funding body: Wollotuka Institute

Funding body Wollotuka Institute
Project Team

Associate Professor Stephanie Gilbert

Scheme Unknown
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Research Initiative Development Incentive Scheme$5,000

Research Initiative Development Incentive Scheme

The overarching purpose of this project is to understand two things: the ways that safe spaces and places are and can be constructed for Aboriginal students within universities by staff, students, pedagogical and curriculum practices and 2: Aboriginal students do crucial identity work when they get to university. How do universities support this? 

Funding body: Wollotuka Institute

Funding body Wollotuka Institute
Project Team

Associate Professor Stephanie Gilbert

Scheme Unknown
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20151 grants / $5,000

Career Development Grant$5,000

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Development grant

Funding body: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Newcastle
Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20082 grants / $31,278

2008 Equity Research Fellowship - Teaching Relief$25,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Stephanie Gilbert
Scheme Equity Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0188327
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

2008 Equity Research Fellowship - Research Grant$6,278

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Stephanie Gilbert
Scheme Equity Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0188217
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed2
Current3

Total current UON EFTSL

Masters0.5
PhD0.75

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Feminism, Aboriginality, and Equality: Accessing Higher Education as an Aboriginal Woman. PhD (Education), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2017 Masters How Do We Make Aboriginal Groups Sustainable, and Do Groups Benefit Community Members and How Can We Empower Them to Have Supportable Groups That Belong to the Community. M Philosophy (Abor Studies), The Wollotuka Institute, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2017 PhD The International Baccalaureate (IB): an International Perspective Through Australian Eyes. PhD (Aboriginal Studies), The Wollotuka Institute, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2016 PhD Private-sector Employment Programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: Comparative Case Studies PhD (Management), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2009 Masters "One Time Ago": An Urban Aboriginal Tribalography M SocialSc (AboriginalStud)[R], Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Research Projects

ATSIRC Cluster Leader 2015 - 2017


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News

Stephanie Gilbert

Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship for UON researcher

February 13, 2017

Dr Stephanie Gilbert, Coordinator of Teaching Quality and Development at The Wollotuka Institute, is set to put an international perspective on her research after she was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

Dr Stephanie Gilbert

Position

Senior Lecturer
The Wollotuka Institute - Academic & Research
Indigenous Education and Research
Academic Division

Focus area

Indigenous Cultural Studies

Contact Details

Email stephanie.gilbert@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 492 15356
Fax (02) 492 16901

Office

Room SAS1.04
Building Birabahn
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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