La Trobe University Unveils Indigenous Research Centre: Gabra Biik, Wurruwila Wutja

Launching a New Era in Indigenous Research

Gabra Biik, Wurruwila Wutja: La Trobe University has inaugurated an Indigenous Research Centre named Gabra Biik, Wurruwila Wutja*, symbolizing “Clever Country, Clever People,” derived from four Indigenous languages. This initiative aims to advance Indigenous community research and provide a secure environment for First Nations researchers.

Part of the Indigenous Strategy

The centre is a crucial element of La Trobe University’s Indigenous Strategy, launched in October 2023. It operates as both a virtual and practice-based research hub, focusing on projects that enhance cultural exchange, learning, mutual respect, and understanding.

Collaborative Effort with Indigenous Communities

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Associate Professor Michael Donovan emphasized that the centre was established through extensive consultation with Indigenous communities around Melbourne and regional Victoria, as well as with Indigenous and non-Indigenous La Trobe staff. The centre will harness research across the University and collaborate with Indigenous communities to identify, design, conduct, and disseminate research.

Unique Focus on Research Partnerships

Director of the Gabra Biik, Wurruwila Wutja Research Centre, Professor Julie Andrews, highlighted the unique aspect of the centre: its focus on research partnerships with Indigenous communities. These partnerships will facilitate collaboration on research priority projects and provide training for both community members and La Trobe staff.

Supporting National Research Priorities

The centre will support Australia’s draft national research priorities, which stress the significance of recognizing First Nations knowledge systems and perspectives on science. Professor Andrews mentioned that the centre aims to partner with Indigenous communities on research across all proposed priorities.

First Project: Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes Management

The first project undertaken by the centre is a collaboration with Transport for NSW and iMove, the national centre for transport and smart mobility research and development. The project, titled ‘Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes Management Project,’ seeks to integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge into the management of road networks, transportation systems, and disaster response strategies.

Respectful Knowledge Sharing

Project Manager Ryan O’Callaghan stated that the project would involve consultations with Aboriginal communities to ensure respectful and ethically sound knowledge sharing. The project aims to understand how traditional practices used by Aboriginal communities to care for their lands can be adapted for modern applications.

Commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart

The eight-year La Trobe Indigenous Strategy includes the introduction of an Associate Dean (Indigenous) across academic schools and the implementation of an Elders Advisory Group and Indigenous Advisory Body. La Trobe University is fully committed to the principles of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and acknowledges its significant role as Victoria’s only state-wide institution of higher education in advancing the treaty process.

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