Indigenous researchers at UWS receive ARC grants

Date: 27/10/2009

The University of Western Sydney's commitment to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education has received a further boost with over $660,000 awarded by the Australian Research Council for Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development.

UWS will receive funds for three projects totalling $669,750 - the most awarded to any Australian university

The Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development (DIRD) scheme provides support for Indigenous researchers to undertake projects and advance their careers.

Three UWS researchers were awarded grants for projects on climate change, closing the gap for Indigenous primary students and innovative approaches to challenging racism.

Professor Rhonda Craven, from the UWS Centre for Educational Research, supervises two of the three UWS DIRD researchers. She spoke at the official Australian Research Council announcement of the grants at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.

"The DIRD grant provides an opportunity to ensure that Indigenous researchers have the means to achieve excellence in research areas that will benefit all Australians," says Professor Craven, who has extensively studied ways to close the gap when it comes to Indigenous education.

"Providing Indigenous researchers with tangible support through grants and providing mentors gives them the opportunity to get their research careers up and running quickly, and helps them to meet their professional goals."

"There is a depth of untapped talent in Indigenous Australia. By closing the gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous educational opportunities, more Indigenous Australians will maximise their full potential with direct benefits for themselves and their communities," says Professor Craven.

Professor Andrew Cheetham, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) says the University welcomes the ARC support for Indigenous researchers.

"I congratulate each of the DIRD grant recipients. The grants reflect the hard work and determination each has already shown and will ensure their research will continue to benefit the community," he says.

"The dominant position of UWS in the current round of DIRD grants reflects the University's commitment to providing educational and research opportunities for people from across the community. The grants will strengthen the University's position to offer tertiary education to more Australians," says Professor Cheetham.

DIRD grants were awarded to UWS for three projects:
*Dr Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, from the UWS Centre for Educational Research, for "Wingara Mangami (to follow the dream of understanding): Seeding innovative intervention success to challenge and prevent racism for Indigenous youth."

Dr Bodkin-Andrews was also announced as the recipient of a prestigious Australian Research Fellowship - Indigenous.

*Virginia O'Rourke, from the UWS Centre for Educational Research, for "Closing the gap for Indigenous primary students in low density schools."

Ms O'Rourke also presented, with Professor Craven, at yesterday's official announcement by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr.

*Ms Laura Parker, from the UWS School of Natural Sciences, for "Climate change research: Can Sydney rock oysters adapt to chronic multigenerational exposure to ocean acidification and temperature?"

Ms Parker's earlier findings on climate change impacts received awards at international conferences in Spain and Monaco.



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Paul Grocott
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