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Projects Underway


Aboriginal Languages and Wellbeing in NSW

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many health and wellbeing benefits for Aboriginal people who speak their heritage language. This study will analyse data from the Australian Census of Population and Housing, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey and the National Indigenous Languages Survey collections to identify connections between speaking an Aboriginal language and wellbeing in NSW. The evidence gained through the study will inform work to achieve the commitments in the Aboriginal Languages Act (2017).

The study is being undertaken in partnership with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University.


Recognising Aboriginal political communities

Critical to any transformation of the relationships between government and Aboriginal peoples in NSW, is a sound political understanding of who Aboriginal people are in NSW – what does Aboriginal polity look like here?

This desktop review will examine the features of the Aboriginal polity in NSW describing the peak advocacy groups, advisory groups, corporations, committees and joint management groups in four locations in NSW. It will explore the features of each of the groups including its history, the length of time the group has operated, its focus, funding, role, how the group currently relates to others and to various levels of government and its legal framework.

The study is being undertaken in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney.


Towards fair and positive media representation of Aboriginal peoples in NSW

Media representation of Aboriginal peoples in NSW greatly influences public policy and the capacity to transform the relationships between Aboriginal peoples and government. Through standard forms of story-telling that are legitimised through recurrent use, media is both shaped by and reinforces deeper narratives, values and beliefs about Aboriginal peoples.

Historically, the prevalent media discourse around Aboriginal peoples has been overwhelmingly negative, with even the best-intentioned representations typically devaluing the humanity and agency of Aboriginal peoples.

This study examines key national and NSW media events over the last five decades with high relevance for transforming Aboriginal-government relationships in NSW. In doing so it aims to develop an account of the ways media narratives in NSW capture and communicate the participation of Aboriginal communities with public policy affecting their interests. It tests to what extent stories in the media acknowledge and support the participation by Aboriginal people in the decisions that affect them. Further, it seeks to identify opportunities in media environments that could increase the capacity of both communities and governments to contribute to fair outcomes in agreement making and a new narrative based on mutual respect and accountability.

The study is being undertaken in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney.


Approaches to developing cultural capability

A longstanding practice barrier to achieving positive change in the relationship between Aboriginal communities and the NSW Government is the cultural capability of NSW public service employees. Several programs are in use in NSW to increase this capability with considerable variation in the approach taken and the material covered. With reference to two approaches to developing cultural capability, this explorative study will examine the similarities and differences in the perspectives of NSW public service employees and Aboriginal people about what constitutes culturally sensitive and appropriate practice. The study will be undertaken in partnership with the National Centre for Cultural Competence at The University of Sydney.


How relationships between First Peoples and government are understood - Key concepts and issues

OCHRE is the NSW Government’s plan for Aboriginal affairs. OCHRE represents an ongoing commitment to fundamentally change the relationship between the NSW Government and Aboriginal communities through agreement making. To achieve a transformation in relationships, a greater understanding is required of what needs changing and how the changes can be achieved including the mechanisms enabling agreed change.

This research, undertaken in collaboration with Black Swan consulting, will examine the purpose served by any changed relationship; what is needed to support positive change; the mechanisms and forms used to achieve the change; how self-government and self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) are understood and how these concepts support positive change; the various scales at which relationships are negotiated (e.g. National, State, regional, local); the relationship between concepts of nation-building and community-building, and variation in views between the major actors.


The independent review of Aboriginal communities water and sewerage program

Currently being undertaken by the consulting engineers Arup, this independent evaluation will assess the efficiency and effectiveness to date of the Aboriginal Communities and Water Sewerage Program (ACWSP). In consultation with the program’s beneficiaries, the review will also develop a Program Logic Model to measure its long-term success.


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