University launches global Indigenous Knowledge Institute

Ancestral Memory
Maree Clarke's exhibit Ancestral Memory, which is on display at the Old Quad

The University of Melbourne has announced that it will invest at least $6 million to launch an Indigenous Knowledge Institute for world-leading Aboriginal knowledge, research and education.

Making the announcement at the 2019 Garma Festival, Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said he was committed to extending and deepening engagement between Indigenous communities and the University.

“One symbol of our strong commitment to partnership is our investment in an Indigenous Knowledge Institute at the University.

“The Institute will be a centre and gathering place for Aboriginal knowledge in all its forms. It will respect, celebrate and become a magnet for knowledge of other Indigenous First Nations people from around the world,” Professor Maskell said.

The main aims of the Institute are to support research and educational priorities that:

  • Document, curate, preserve and disseminate Indigenous knowledge in partnership with Indigenous communities
  • Recognise and respect Indigenous knowledge systems as living, dynamic and innovative, and to engage with them to address global and local challenges
  • Create avenues to learn from and work with Indigenous knowledge systems and knowledge holders in ways that bring mutual scholarly, community and practical benefits

Professor Maskell said the Institute would build on exciting work already taking place between University researchers and teachers and Indigenous communities across Australia. This includes work in language, arts and music, life sciences, engineering and design, health, data infrastructure and two-way learning initiatives.

“We will launch this initiative to preserve and restore Indigenous knowledge and support the wider teaching and understanding of cultures which are the oldest on earth, and have too long been neglected, ignored, or forgotten in our universities and society,” he said.

The University of Melbourne was a Principal Partner at the 2019 Garma Festival. The Festival’s theme was ‘Pathways to our future’ and this is significant for the University of Melbourne.

“The University is always looking to work in partnership with current and former students, businesses, communities and government. The Indigenous Knowledge Institute is one way we honour the commitment to this relationship,” Professor Maskell said.

The University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Shaun Ewen said: “Only when Australian Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and experiences are centred at the University of Melbourne can it meaningfully recognise its place and begin to fulfil its aspiration to be a truly great Australian University for the world.”