ANU to lead new Indigenous research projects

6 November 2014

The ANU will lead new research to improve the public discourse on Indigenous issues, and to safeguard the cultural language of the people of the Western Desert, under new Australian Research Council (ARC) grants.

The ANU was one of only two institutions to secure funding for two prestigious Indigenous Discovery grants, worth a total of $936,000 in the ARC’s 2015 awards.

Professor Mick Dodson, from the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, secured $456,000 for three years for a project to examine deficit discourse, which frames Indigenous identity in a narrative of negativity and deficiency.

The research will examine how Indigenous school children are affected by deficit discourse.

“We’ve very excited by this grant. It’s long overdue,” Professor Dodson said.

“We’ve wanted to look at this question of deficit discourse for some years now. The aim is to see if we can improve the public discourse, and improve the outcomes for Indigenous school students.”

The second ARC Indigenous Discovery grant went to research led by Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis, from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, to help revitalise endangered language styles of the Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjarra people of the Western Desert.

Ms Ellis is a Ngaatjatjarra educator, interpreter and linguist from the Ngaanyatjarra region of Western Australia.

“We are very happy to receive this grant,” Ms Ellis said.

“The project will provide a significant and unique contribution to our understanding of speech styles and the verbal arts in the Western Desert, in particular those of the Ngaatjatjarra and Ngaanyatjarra peoples.

“It will be an investment in the heritage value of the world’s small endangered languages.”

The project received $480,000 funding over three years.