Team

Professor Sarah Maddison

Director

Professor Sarah Maddison is Director of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne. She was educated at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney. She taught political science at the University of New South Wales from 2004-2014, where she also held roles as Senior Associate Dean (2007-2010) and as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2011-2014). She joined the University of Melbourne in 2015. In 2018 she co-founded a research unit, the Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration, in the Faculty of Arts, which she co-directed with Associate Professor Sana Nakata until 2021. Also with Associate Professor Nakata and with Dr Julia Hurst she edits the Springer book series Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World. She has published widely in the fields of reconciliation and intercultural relations, settler colonialism, Indigenous politics, gender politics, social movements, and democracy. Her most recent book, The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can't solve black problems, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2019. In 2015 Sarah published Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (Routledge) based on comparative research in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Australia, and Guatemala, and in 2016 she published the collection (co-edited with Tom Clark and Ravi de Costa) The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation (Springer). Her book Black Politics: Inside the complexity of Aboriginal political culture (2009) was the joint winner of the Henry Mayer Book Prize in 2009. Her other recent books include The Women’s Movement in Protest, Institutions and the Internet (co-edited with Marian Sawer, 2013), Beyond White Guilt (2011), Unsettling the Settler State (co-edited with Morgan Brigg, 2011), and Silencing Dissent (co-edited with Clive Hamilton, 2007). In 2017 Sarah was Visiting Chair of Politics at the University of Cape Town and has previously held visiting positions at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, The University of Witwatersrand, and the University of Ulster. In 2009 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study models of Indigenous representation in the United States and Canada. Sarah was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 2019 to 2021.

Julia Hurst

Deputy Director

Dr Julia Hurst is Deputy Director of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne and Lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History. Julia completed her PhD at ANU in Aboriginal History. Her Indigenous heritage crosses Dharawal and Darug land. Her research explores fundamental questions of Australian Aboriginal identity in 21st century Australia. She has a Masters of Urban Planning and Bachelor of Arts and has presented her research in local and international forums. She has worked across academia, the arts and corporate sectors.

Lecturer in Treaty

Matthew Campbell has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (RMIT), a Masters of Applied Anthropology (ANU) and has recently submitted his PhD at Charles Darwin University. His PhD explores situations in which Indigenous and non- Indigenous people, working together, become aware that the goals or ends of that work are not necessarily shared. The thesis draws on two decades of work in Northern Australia to examine the processes by which such challenges were identified, made explicit and addressed. It also explores the role that inquiry itself played in supporting this process.

Matt worked at Charles Darwin University in a number of roles, including as a remote Land and Resource Management Lecturer, a Community Engagement Officer and a Research Officer. He also worked as the Research Coordinator of Tangentyere Council’s Research Hub in Alice Springs, an Aboriginal research unit dedicated to undertaking research that produces tangible difference in the lives of Town Camp residents.

Throughout his professional career he has written and published papers, focusing on using empirical examples from applied work to explore how actors are configured within projects, and to explicate how the challenges of work in epistemically complex situations are surfaced and addressed within the work itself. His primary research interest is in exploring the political and epistemic aspects embedded within work where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people undertake action together.

Centre Coordinator

Bianca Williams is the Centre Coordinator, along with being a co-lead discussant for the Centre's critical reading group. Bianca also tutors in the subject Indigenous Treaties and Titles at the University of Melbourne. She has completed an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies and is currently undertaking a Masters degree in Justice and Criminology. She has a particular interest in the histories and contemporary politics related to the impacts of legislation on Indigenous lives. Bianca has a background in finance and worked in the field for fourteen years before joining the University of Melbourne. Her work in finance included establishing and managing a loan originations team dedicated to supporting the financial independence of individuals who would normally be overlooked by mainstream lenders. Bianca belongs to the Ngemba people of Bourke New South Wales. She has lived on Kulin Nations land for over a decade.

Research Coordinator

Eleanor Benson is the Research Coordinator. She is a white settler living and working on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin nations. Eleanor completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours at the University of Melbourne in 2017, majoring in Australian Indigenous Studies and Gender Studies. Her honours thesis explored the relationship between incarceration and settler colonial sovereignty. Eleanor has tutored in Gender Studies and Sustainability Studies at the University of Melbourne and RMIT. She is currently working as a research assistant on an ARC Discovery Project with academics from the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland, investigating Indigenous governance and state relations.

Education Programs Coordinator

Claire Akhbari is the Education Programs Coordinator. Claire is from a white settler background and completed their BA (Honours) with a major in Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne in 2016. Their minor thesis was entitled Booing the Selfish Rabble: Reading race in whitestream news media representations of Aboriginal sovereign resistance and the findings were presented at the 2017 NIRAKN Race, Whiteness and Indigeneity International Conference. They also presented a paper at The National Centre of Indigenous Studies Research Colloquium in 2017 entitled Decolonizing Graduate Research: Reflections from a Settler-Colonizer perspective. For the last 2 years they have been working as a tutor in the subjects Australian Indigenous Public Policy, Australian Indigenous Politics, First Peoples in a Global Context, Aboriginalities, Introduction to Indigenous Education and Public Policy Making, and was one of the lead discussants for the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration reading group for 18 months. While an undergraduate student they were a co-author of a 2015 publication The Oombulgurri Project, which worked from the local to situate the case of the closure of the Oombulgurri community in larger frameworks of settler colonial violence and neo-liberal strategy. They were also on the Faculty of Arts Dean’s Honours List twice in 2015 and 2011, and the 2015 recipient of The Marion Boothby Exhibition, which is awarded to the student with the highest mark in the field of British History. They live and work on the stolen lands of the Boonwurung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation and acknowledges that sovereignty to their lands, and the rest of the country currently known as Australia, has never been ceded. The desire to individually reject and collectively dismantle the personal and structural privilege gained from the foundational and ongoing genocide and dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples informs their work.