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Mr Nathan Towney

Pro Vice-Chancellor - Indigenous Strategy and Leadership

Office of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership

Career Summary


Nathan is a proud Wiradjuri man from Wellington in NSW and an education leader. He holds a Bachelor of Teaching and a Bachelor of Health and Physical Education from The University of Newcastle. 

Nathan’s appointment as the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous, Strategy and Leadership role follows a four year tenure as the Principal of Newcastle High School. 

Nathan will lead the University’s Indigenous Education Framework and connect with community groups outside the organisation.  

Nathan’s personal and authentic approach fosters strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders at all levels. Nathan has a passion for innovation and change and has actively encouraged student-directed, passion-based and entrepreneurial learning. His approach to engaging and working with communities will be particularly valuable as the University looks to find ways for the institution to better connect with our regions.


  • Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Health and PE, University of Newcastle

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
450299 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Indigenous Strategy and Leadership University of Newcastle
Office of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Pammer K, Freire M, Gauld C, Towney N, 'Keeping safe on australian roads: Overview of key determinants of risky driving, passenger injury and fatalities for indigenous populations', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 1-16 (2021) [C1]

Social and cultural barriers associated with inequitable access to driver licensing and associated road safety education, as well as socioeconomic issues that preclude ongoing veh... [more]

Social and cultural barriers associated with inequitable access to driver licensing and associated road safety education, as well as socioeconomic issues that preclude ongoing vehicle maintenance and registration, result in unsafe in-car behaviours such as passenger overcrowding. This in turn is associated with improper seatbelt usage, noncompliance with child restraint man-dates, and driver distraction. For example, in Australia, where seatbelt use is mandatory, Indigenous road users are three times less likely to wear seatbelts than non-Indigenous road users. This is associated with a disproportionately high fatality rate for Indigenous drivers and passengers; 21% of Indigenous motor-vehicle occupants killed on Australian roads were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of impact. In addition, inequitable access to driver licensing instruction due to financial and cultural barriers results in Indigenous learner drivers having limited access to qualified mentors and instructors. A consequent lack of road safety instruction results in a normalising of risky driving behaviours, perpetuated through successive generations of drivers. Moreover, culturally biased driver instruction manuals, which are contextualised within an English written-language learning framework, fail to accommodate the learning needs of Indigenous peoples who may encounter dif-ficulties with English literacy. This results in difficulty understanding the fundamental road rules, which in turn makes it difficult for young drivers to develop and sustain safe in-car behaviours. This paper considers the literature regarding road safety for Indigenous road users and critically evaluates strategies and policies that have been advanced to protect Indigenous drivers. Novel so-lutions to increasing road safety rule compliance are proposed, particularly in relation to passenger safety, which are uniquely embedded within Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. Safe driving practices have crucial health and social implications for Indigenous communities by allow-ing more Indigenous people to participate in work and education opportunities, access healthcare, maintain cultural commitments, and engage with families and friends, qualities which are essential for ongoing health and wellbeing.

DOI 10.3390/ijerph18052446
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Kristen Pammer, Cass Gauld

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 1
Total funding $667,388

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

20201 grants / $667,388

Leadership Development for Middle School Leaders$667,388

Funding body: NSW Department of Education

Funding body NSW Department of Education
Project Team Laureate Professor Jennifer Gore, Kylie Lipscombe, Associate Professor Jess Harris, Sharon Tindall-Ford, Jessica Mantei, Doctor Drew Miller, Kellie Buckley-Walker, Sue Bennett, Mr Nathan Towney
Scheme Research Project
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2021
GNo G2001121
Type Of Funding C2200 - Aust Commonwealth – Other
Category 2200


Framework launched in commitment to Indigenous education and research

March 18, 2021

The University of Newcastle has unveiled a major piece in its longstanding commitment to Indigenous higher education, innovation and engagement with the launch of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Research Framework, coinciding with national Close the Gap Day.

Indigenous medical students admitted through innovative program

September 15, 2020

Having helped train more than 100 Indigenous doctors, the University of Newcastle’s Thurru Indigenous Health Unit is recruiting for its next intake of aspiring doctors.

University of Newcastle joins back of jersey

July 29, 2020

The Newcastle Knights are pleased to announce the University of Newcastle will take top position on the back of jersey for Indigenous Round.

Mr Nathan Towney


Pro Vice-Chancellor - Indigenous Strategy and Leadership
Office of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership
Office of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership
Vice-Chancellor's Division

Contact Details

Phone (02) 4055 3001


Room CH370
Building The Chancellery
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308