The University of Newcastle, Australia

Indigenous leaders in the HDR space

Friday, 21 April 2017

The University of Newcastle has an outstanding track record in Indigenous education with a strong history in undergraduate completion rates.

The Wollotuka Institute at UON has long inspired students to grow academically, with an increasing number of students successfully continuing their higher education at a post-graduate level.

Higher education plays an important role in the health and education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is why universities have a focus on improving higher education outcomes for Indigenous students.

The Department of Education and Training (DET) have recently released the latest HDR Completion statistics. In 2014, there were no HDR completions by identified Indigenous students, however, in 2015 there were seven completions – and all seven candidates were from the University of Newcastle.

Professor Steve Larkin, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education and Research) is a strong advocate for Indigenous people leading policy change through postgraduate research. “This result shows that Indigenous people are extremely capable of successfully undertaking HDR study,” Professor Larkin said.

“These graduates have generated new knowledge from an Indigenous perspective and I’m proud of the role that UON and the Wollotuka Institute has played in their journey,” Professor Larkin said.

The students are:


Raymond Kelly, PhD in Aboriginal Studies.

Thesis title: Dreaming the Keepara: New South Wales Indigenous Cultural Perspective 1808-2007

Patrice Newell, PhD in Environmental Sciences.

Thesis title:  A Strategic Assessment of the Potential for a New Pyrolysis Industry in the Hunter Valley

Leonie Calver, PhD in Medicine.

Thesis Title: Sedation of Acute Behavioural Disturbance

Elizabeth Cameron: PhD in Aboriginal Studies.

Thesis title: Bangawara Naa - Ways of Making and Seeing Creative Aboriginal Knowledges


Grant Vercoe, MPhil in Fine Art.

Thesis title: Manhattan and the Merging of Modernism

John Doolah, MPhil in Fine Art.

Thesis title: Decolonising the Migration and Urbanisation of Torres Strait Islanders (Ailan pipel) from the Torres Straits to Mainland Australia between the 1960s and 1970s

Nicole Chaffey, MPhil in Aboriginal Studies.

Thesis tile: North: Remembering Country

Professor Lucy Johnston, Dean of Graduate Research, is delighted with these statistics. “We’re so proud to be leaders in Indigenous education in Australia. Our undergraduate students have forged a strong path that’s now led to success in HDR completion – it is an achievement worth celebrating.”

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