The Australian Centre supports research that advances a critical examination of Australian society, culture and history, with an interdisciplinary focus on settler colonialism and its institutions.

At the beginning of 2022, the Australian Centre will be relaunched under the leadership of Professor Sarah Maddison as Director and Dr Julia Hurst as Deputy Director.

Originally established in 1989, the Australian Centre has a long history of supporting scholarship on colonial and contemporary Australian society and culture. The relaunched Australian Centre will build on this legacy, fostering world-leading research on the settler state, its culture, institutions, sovereignty and identities across several different disciplines, including history, sociology, literature, politics, visual arts and anthropology. The Centre will advance a critical project focused on deepening our understanding of the challenges inherent in ensuring that Indigenous-Settler relations become more engaged, responsible, respectful and lawful, while concurrently holding ground to develop research that supports Indigenous scholarship. Working always in engagement with Indigenous scholars and scholarship, the Australian Centre will be a space that models ethical, place-based, reflexive and reciprocal research focused on settler responsibility and justice for First Nations, seeking to be in relation with, and of service to, Indigenous peoples and sovereignties. The Centre will also aim to build a cohort of graduates ready to take up the work of advancing a critical understanding of Australia as a colonial project and engaging in the ongoing transformation of this nation through recognising and engaging the ways of knowing held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, on whose land we work.

The relaunched Australian Centre will continue to host events highlighting research that investigates what might inform, shape and give life to more just relations between Indigenous and settler peoples. In this way, the Centre will continue and expand the relationships, scholarship and research that have been built and nurtured over the past three years by the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration (ISRC), which will be disestablished at the end of this year. ISRC co-founder and co-director Associate Professor Sana Nakata – who is also the Faculty’s Associate Dean Indigenous – will be involved in some of the Australian Centre’s activities.

We thank Professors Denise Varney and Ken Gelder for their leadership and commitment to the Australian Centre over the last eight years.

News and events


The Australian Centre administers a series of prizes for outstanding endeavour in the visual arts, creative writing and biographical studies. The awards are presented on an annual or biennial basis.


Read the announcement of the prizes’ past winers and download the judges reports for the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, Peter Blazey Fellowship, Kate Challis RAKA Award and the Dinny O’Hearn Fellowships.

Past winners


The Australian Centre aims to develop research capacity in two key areas:

Australia Colonial Bank of Australasia 1 Pound Sterling

The Colonial Australian Archive

This field of research brings together current and new work across the following areas: colonial literary studies / print culture, theatre and performance, early cinema, visual art and design, migration and settlement, ‘contact’ studies, colonial typologies, frontier settler violence, law and order, race, and gender.

Research into the colonial archive in Australia is ongoing and always in need of further encouragement. The colonial archive holds information crucial to the foundations, aspirations and anxieties of an emerging modern nation. The aim is to develop and disseminate a sophisticated sense of the complexities of colonial life in Australia across a wide range of sites of cultural and social activity.

The Colonial Australian Archive

Bangarra Dance Theatre Performance at “Future Dreaming” Cultural Event

Contemporary Australian Cultural Practices

This field of research brings together current and new work across the following areas: literary studies, creative writing, theatre and performance studies, cinema, television, visual art, dance, publishing, new media, and social media. The aim is to develop and disseminate a sophisticated sense of contemporary cultural forms and practices in Australia, informing Australians’ sense of their relationship to the nation and the world.

Cultural practices provide one key site for Australians to engage with issues that are significant to the nation and to national identity. Understanding the contribution of the cultural sector to new ways of being, identifying and representing Australia, both to itself and internationally, is vitally important to the vision of the nation.

Contemporary Australian Cultural Practices