Advisory Board

Chaired by Dr Lou Bennet AM and including ensure representation from the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Corporation, the Advisory Board provides strategic oversight, expert advice, support and guidance to the Centre. Board members are drawn from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and have extensive experience in a range of areas and sectors.

Lou Bennett

Dr Lou Bennett AM (Chair)

Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung, Lou Bennett AM is a former member of the internationally acclaimed trio Tiddas. Bennett is a consummate performer, playing audiences worldwide. Bennett is a prolific songwriter/composer and during her ten years with Tiddas (1990-2000) penned some of the group’s signature songs. Bennett’s work stretches over a vast area within the arts industry including her various roles as Performer, Songwriter, Musical and Artistic Director, Composer, Actor, Soundscape and Music Designer and Educator.

In 2006 Bennett was a co-founder of the iconic Black Arm Band and was an instrumental force in the company’s transformative journey from being a one-off ‘special project’, becoming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governed, not for profit major performing arts company. Bennett completed her PhD by project at RMIT Melbourne in October 2015. Bennett’s dissertation discusses the importance and relevance of Aboriginal language retrieval, reclamation and regeneration through the medium of the Arts to community health and wellbeing and explores the importance of Indigenous epistemology, methodology and pedagogy in artistic and academic contexts. Bennett uses her own languages of Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung, extending to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages that can be retrieved, reclaimed and regenerated through songs, stories and performances.

Bennett received the McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the University of Melbourne and was inducted onto the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll for 2017. In 2018 Bennett accepted a member of the Order of Australia. Bennett received a Westpac Research Fellowship in 2021 and continues her research in Sovereign Language Rematriation through Song Pedagogy at the University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Political Science. Bennett was ministerially appointed to the RISING board in 2020 and in 2022 was appointed as the Chair of the Australia Centre at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Chris Healy

Chris Healy, FAHA, is an internationally respected scholar in the fields of cultural studies and media, public history, and memory studies, as well as a distinguished historian of Australian colonial and Aboriginal history. His research has led to new understandings of the significance of memory in the relations between Indigenous and mainstream Australia, and important reassessments of First Nations interventions into the contemporary practices of museums and heritage sites. He is the author of two monographs, five co-edited books, more than 50 book chapters and journal articles, 30 edited journal issues, and several significant reports and essays. As the University of Melbourne’s inaugural appointee in Cultural Studies, he established and lead an innovative, durable, and widely admired program focused on the study of contemporary culture. Chris has been a research leader as a Chief Investigator on five ARC Discovery Projects, as an editor of a major Cultural Studies Journal and through the ARC Cultural Research Network. He has an outstanding track record as a PhD supervisor and mentor of graduate students, most recently through his leadership of the first Arts Faculty International Research Training Group with Potsdam University.

Craig Ritchie

Craig Ritchie is an Aboriginal man of the Dhunghutti and Biripi nations and is the Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Craig joined AIATSIS as Deputy CEO in April 2016, and formally appointed CEO in May 2017. Prior to joining, Craig has worked in other senior roles in the Department of Education and Training 2011-2016 in roles heading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education, higher education access  and participation for people from low-SES backgrounds, and international student mobility, as well as founding Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in the ACT Government. Craig has extensive experience in the community sector, including as CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) - the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal community-controlled health services.

Craig is one of a small number of Indigenous Commonwealth Government agency heads and a founding member of the APS Indigenous SES Network. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney where he also serves on the Vice- Chancellor’s Industry Advisory Board. He also holds honorary appointments at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand School of Government. He studied History, Classics and Education at the University of Newcastle and has a post-graduate qualification in management and is currently completing his PhD at the Australian National University. His thesis topic is Culture and Policymaking: Towards Better Aboriginal Policy and explores the cultural basis of contemporary policymaking and researching Aboriginal culture as a vector for the transformation of policymaking systems. His research interests are interdisciplinary and span literature, history, classics, philosophy, and political science. He has a scholarly focus on the interaction between culture and socio-political systems with a strong interactionist orientation.

Dale Wandin

Dale Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung artist. Dale stood as a candidate for the Metropolitan Region for the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. Dale has written on the Victorian Treaty process for the Australian Book Review. Dale has previously worked with Crown Melbourne, Aboriginal Hostel Limited, Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria(now Keep Victoria Beautiful), as well as Melbourne Magistrates Court. Dale was a Sovereign Body member for Pay the Rent between 2020 – 2022. Dale also sits on the RAP Steering Committee for Manningham City Council & has previously sat on the RAP Steering Committee for Crown Melbourne.

Jennifer Balint

Associate Professor Jennifer Balint

Jennifer Balint is Associate Professor in Socio-Legal Studies and Head of School, Social and Political Sciences. She has a BA (Hons) LLB (Hons) from Macquarie University, and a PhD from the Law Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.

She came to the University of Melbourne in 2002 to establish the Socio-Legal Studies program in Criminology. Her research expertise is in the area of state crime, genocide and access to justice, with a focus on the constitutive function of law in societies and transitional justice. She co-established the Minutes of Evidence project, a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, education experts, performance artists, community members, government and community organisations that aims to spark public conversations about structural justice and how understanding the relationship between the colonial past and the present can bring about just futures. See Her work is focused on the development of models to address institutional harm and to effect structural change. Associate Professor Balint has been a visiting fellow at International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, the Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, a research fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University, Chicago, a visiting scholar at the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University and an invited scholar to the University of Leuven. She has participated in the United Nations Preparatory Commission meetings for the formation of the International Criminal Court in New York, and was the representative for Oceania for the establishment of the International Criminal Bar. She has consulted the Department of Justice on matters relating to access to justice, and has sat on the Management Committee of Fitzroy Legal Service. Her earlier book, Genocide, State Crime and the Law. In the Name of the State, is a legal and socio-political analysis of the capacity of law to address genocide and other forms of state crime, law's relationship to reconciliation, and the role of law in the perpetration of these crimes. Her most recent book, with Julie Evans, Mark McMillan and Nesam McMillan, is Keeping Hold of Justice: Encounters between Law and Colonialism (Michigan University Press, 2020), which considers what a structural justice could look like in the face of structural injustice.

Kim Alley

Dr Kim Alley

Kim Alley is an Aboriginal academic and researcher, with more than ten years’ experience in researching and teaching Indigenous Studies, Australian Politics and Middle Eastern Politics/History. Her work focuses on settler colonial histories and political violence, while also examining social movements for change and liberation, transnational activism and resistance politics. Kim’s work seeks to highlight how such histories and activism impact and inform Indigenous Settler relations today both in Australia and internationally.

Dr Melitta Hogarth

Melitta Hogarth is a Kamilaroi woman and is the Assistant Dean (Indigenous) and Senior Research Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Prior to entering academia, Melitta taught for almost 20 years in all three sectors of the Queensland education system specifically in Secondary education. Melitta’s interests are in education, equity and social justice. Her PhD titled “Addressing the rights of Indigenous peoples in education: A critical analysis of Indigenous education policy”was awarded both the QUT and Faculty of Education Outstanding Thesis Awards and was awarded the Ray Debus Award for Doctoral Research in Education.

Professor Rachel Nordlinger

Rachel Nordlinger is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, and Director of the Research Unit for Indigenous Language, in the School of Languages and Linguistics. She completed her PhD in Linguistics at Stanford University, USA.

Rachel's research centres around the description and documentation of Australia's Indigenous languages, and she has worked with the Bilinarra, Wambaya, Gudanji, Murrinhpatha and Marri Ngarr communities to record and preserve their traditional languages. She has also published on syntactic and morphological theory, and in particular the challenges posed by the complex grammatical structures of Australian Aboriginal languages. She is the author of numerous academic articles in international journals, and five books, including A Grammar of Wambaya (Pacific Linguistics, 1998), Constructive Case: Evidence from Australian languages (CSLI Publications, 1998) and A Grammar of Bilinarra (Mouton de Gruyter, 2014 - coauthored with Dr. Felicity Meakins). She is co-editor (with Harold Koch) of The Languages and Linguistics of Australia (Mouton de Gruyter, 2014). Rachel Nordlinger was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in November 2017.

Associate Professor Sara Wills

Sara Wills is currently the Associate Dean for Engagement and Advancement in the Faculty of Arts, Head of Program for the Executive Master of Arts in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and an Associate Professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. Born in the UK, Sara migrated to Australia in her mid-teens and, following an early (and continuing) interest in aspects of the history of ideas about nature, she has mainly focused her academic teaching and research on aspects of migration, multicultural and refugee studies and histories, with particular reference to memory and museum studies.

She has taught the undergraduate subject 'Migrant Nation: History, Culture, Identity' for over 10 years and supervised many theses to completion in this broad field that examines 'those who have performed the act of which all men anciently dream, the thing for which they envy the birds; that is to say we have flown' (to borrow from Salman Rushdie). In addition to this interest in what it means to appear to defy history, memory and time as a migrant (while mindful also of the deep 'routes' and 'roots' that orient the Aboriginal family of which she became a part over 20 years ago), Sara is also invested in the idea that an education in the humanities prepares one for the great work that makes a great life. To that end, she has enjoyed teaching 'The Power of Ideas: 10 Great Books' and 'Leaders, Business and Culture in Florence' as part of the unique Executive Master of Arts degree in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences - a degree that combines critical, creative and ethical thinking with budgeting, project management and how to develop a good comms plan. For the last 10 years, much of Sara's time and attention has been engaged by how the University can create greater opportunities for students, research and teaching excellence by working with the broader community. Believing that we are always 'stronger together', Sara has been keen to work in partnership with individuals and organisations who share the Faculty's commitment to excellence, access, equity and diversity in education. Sara is proud of her work with the 110 Scholarship Scheme, I-LEAP (the Indigenous Leadership Excellence and Achievement Program) the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board, the Being Human Festival and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute, which supports interdisciplinary research and engagement for fairer societies.