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Critical Disability Studies Research Network Launch

By Gaylene Galardi 11 March 2016 News Presentations Research No Comments »

The Curtin Critical Disability Studies Research Network was officially launched on 29 February 2016 with a keynote presentation on Re-imagining Australia by Graeme Innes AM, LLB, FAICD, Chair of the Attitude Foundation and former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner. Graeme gave an inspiring talk about the changes in the lives of people with disabilities over the past ten years and his vision for the future.

Professor Baden Offord officiated the evening, with a Welcome to Country by Elder in Residence, Associate Professor Simon Forrest. Associate Professor Michele Willson, Head of the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts (MCCA) at Curtin gave an official welcome to the guests and Dr Katie Ellis introduced the background to and aims of the Research Network.

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The Curtin Critical Disability Studies Research Network aims to develop relationships and support for researchers in the critical disability studies field both within and outside Curtin University. Members include Curtin staff and HDRs, people with disabilities and advocacy organisations.  Network membership is free and open to anyone with research interests in critical disability studies. The Network is coordinated by Katie Ellis builds on the work of Katie Ellis, Mike Kent and Rachel Robertson in the Curtin School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts and Baden Offord in CHRE.


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L-R: Dr Rachel Robertson; Graeme Innes AM; Dr Katie Ellis; Professor Baden Offord; Dr Mike Kent.

L-R: Dr Rachel Robertson; Graeme Innes AM; Dr Katie Ellis; Professor Baden Offord; Dr Mike Kent.

The launch was funded by the Faculty of Humanities and MCCA. Our thanks to Katie Ellis in MCCA, Gaylene Galardi in CHRE, and Corporate Events for organising this event.

(Text by Rachel Robertson and Gaylene Galardi, photographs by Gaylene Galardi)

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‘In Between, Go Between: Borders of Belonging,’ International Conference, Barcelona, 17-22 January 2016

By Gaylene Galardi 19 February 2016 News Presentations No Comments »

The Centre for Human Rights Education co-convened the international conference ‘In Between, Go Between: Borders of Belonging,’ in Barcelona from 17-22 January 2016. The event was convened by Professor Baden Offord, CHRE Director, together with Emeritus Professor Susan Ballyn, Director at the Centre for Australian Studies at The University Barcelona, Dr Rob Garbutt of the Centre for Peace and Social Justice, Southern Cross University, and Dr Mitchell Rolls, Director, Centre Colonialism and its Aftermath, University of Tasmania. 
'In Between, Go Between: Borders of Belonging' attendees

The conference, with its interdisciplinary and intercultural emphasis, brought scholars, writers, artists, cultural theorists, historians and thinkers from across the world into dialogue and conversation.

CHRE academics, Professor Offord and Dr Elfie Shiosaki together with CHRE Adjunct Professor Linda Briskman, joined Professor Suvendrini Perera, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Anna Haebich, Dr Thor Kerr and Dr Rachel Robertson, from the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin in presenting two featured Curtin Plenary Panels on the topic of ‘Cultural Struggle in Australia.’

Curtin Panel

Professor Offord’s presentation, titled ‘“Of cul‐de‐sac champions, civilisation, hidden curriculum and Aussie Rules,” discussed the role of the human rights scholar and intellectual as someone – as a go-between – who subjected structures of power, knowledge and everyday life to critical scrutiny.

He argued that cultural struggle in Australia, for example, required holding the government and society itself to account for the way that refugees and asylum seekers – the in-between – were treated. He referred to the recent action of Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites as a valuable example of how scholarship and activism can work together to tell the stories of those who suffer from the absence of safety and protection in creative and compelling ways.

Baden speaking

Dr Shiosaki’s talk was on emerging transnational narratives of Indigenous political autonomy in Australia. She argued that recognising and accounting for early political activism by Noongar people (1900-1930s) contributed to these emerging narratives, by amplifying significant Western Australian voices. She concluded that reclaiming these voices negotiated borders of belonging in Australian history by honouring Indigenous transnational agencies, networks and mobilities.

More information about the conference can be found on the website.


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New research project, ‘Our stories, our way: collaborative methodology for Indigenous oral history’, in 2016

By Gaylene Galardi 11 December 2015 News Research No Comments »

The Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) and the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts (MCCA) will commence a new research project, Our stories, our way: collaborative methodology for Indigenous oral history, in 2016.

This project is led by Dr Elfie Shiosaki, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Anna Haebich and Dr Michelle Johnson in partnership with a team of researchers from the University of New England, the University of South Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive.

Oral traditions in Indigenous communities are framed by unique Indigenous epistemologies. This project aims to empower Indigenous people to record their own stories as oral histories in their own way. The research team will work to reframe methodology for Indigenous oral history by giving greater recognition to Indigenous ways of knowing.

This project will support a research symposium and workshop on collaborative methodology for Indigenous oral history at Curtin in May 2016. These research activities will contribute to CHRE’s Reimagining Australia pre-conference series in the lead up to the International Australian Studies Assocation (InASA) Conference to be held at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle on 7-9 December 2016.

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Dr Shiosaki appointed Associate Investigator at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

By Gaylene Galardi 10 December 2015 News No Comments »

Dr Elfie Shiosaki has been appointed as an Associate Investigator at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) in 2016.

CHE leads research worldwide into how societies thought, felt and functioned in Europe, 1100 – 1800, and how this long history continues to impact on present day Australia.

Dr Shiosaki’s research at CHE will explore how emerging narratives of Indigenous political autonomy, strength, courage and resilience have the potential to overcome the enduring legacy of dominant colonial narratives. Her research aims to unearth a hidden treasury of knowledge about early political activism by many Noongar people in Western Australia from the turn of the twentieth century until the 1930s, restore this knowledge to the Noongar community as invaluable cultural heritage and explore the legacy of this rich history of activism for future generations.

CHE was established in 2011 under the ARC Centres of Excellence Program. Its research is based at the Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney and Western Australia.

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Australian Research Council Discovery Project success

By Gaylene Galardi 4 December 2015 News Research No Comments »

Dr Elfie Shiosaki

Congratulations to Centre for Human Rights Education’s Indigenous Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Elfie Shiosaki and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Anna Haebich on their successful ARC Discovery ProjectAncestor words': Noongar letter writing in Western Australian government archives from the 1860s to the 1960s.


Professor Anna Haebich

Professor Anna Haebich

The project was highlighted in a Curtin media release on 23 November 2015:

‘A new project led by Curtin University researchers, in collaboration with the Nyungar community, aims to produce the first account of writing by Nyungar people held in the Western Australian archives and covering the period from 1860 to 1960.
John Curtin Distinguished Professor Anna Haebich, of the School of Media, Culture and the Creative Arts, said the State’s collection held a treasury of knowledge about writing by Nyungar people. This knowledge had been passed down in oral history, but was not widely known.

“Looking at the period from 1860 to 1960, the project’s significance lies in uncovering seemingly hidden knowledge about activism by Nyungar people which has been silenced in the past,” Professor Haebich said.

“Working closely with the Nyungar leaders to bring the letters to the community and the writers’ families, we hope to transform this writing into invaluable cultural heritage for the emerging Nyungar nation.”

The Ancestors’ Words project aims to develop an ethical model for research in the Nyungar community. The research team will work in close partnership with a Nyungar working group, members of which include Nyungar elders and representatives from community organisations.

Professor Marion Kickett, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin and a member of the working group, said the project would showcase the significance of the past writings by Nyungar people.

“This project will highlight many stories of dispossessions, intelligence and an enduring resilience that sustained many and deposed others; these tales of survival are a valuable legacy,” Professor Kickett said.

Mr Kyle Morrison, Artistic Director of the Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, is another member of the working group. He said the research project could also provide possibilities to engage Nyungar youth in new, creative projects.

“The letters are performative in nature and a cross-generational symposium would be a perfect way to skill share and workshop a variety of performance ideas and outcomes,” Mr Morrison said.

Research for the project, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), will be carried out by Curtin University, Deakin University and Colgate University in New York. Researchers include project leader Professor Haebich, Dr Elfie Shiosaki of Curtin’s Centre for Human Rights Education, Colgate University’s Professor Ellen Percy Kraly, and Deakin’s Dr Tiffany Shellam. The State Records Office of Western Australia and the State Library of Western Australia are providing valuable support.

ARC funding commences in January 2016.’

The project was also highlighted in an article in ABC online news on Friday 27 November 2015, written by Nicholas Perpitch titled ‘Powerful’ Noongar letters offer glimpse into Aboriginal history’.



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Dr Yirga Woldeyes, speaker at the African Studies of Australasia and the Pacific Conference

By Gaylene Galardi 16 November 2015 News Presentations No Comments »

Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, a lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights Education, participated in the 38th African Studies of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) Conference that was organised at Deakin University, Melbourne, from 28th-30th October 2015. The theme of the conference was ‘21st Century Tensions and Transformation in Africa’. Yirga participated by presenting a paper entitled, Beyond decoloniality: Towards the creative incorporation of diverse knowledge-traditions in Africa. He also chaired a session, and spoke at the plenary session at the conclusion of the conference on the Future of African studies in Australasia. The next AFSAAP conference will take place in Perth in 2016.

For more information about the conference program, click here.

Dr Yirga Woldeyes

Dr Yirga Woldeyes speaking at the Plenary session

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Australian Research Council Discovery award success for Centre adjunct

By Gaylene Galardi 4 November 2015 Awards News Research No Comments »

Dr Karen Soldatic

Congratulations to Centre for Human Rights Education’s Adjunct Researcher, Dr Karen Soldatic, on her successful ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award announced on Friday 30 October 2015, awarded through the University of New South Wales.

Karen is an international researcher in the field of disability studies and her research work has been published widely in some of the world’s leading international social science journals in the area. She has successfully edited a number of leading international journals and has three forthcoming international edited volumes with Routledge (2014) and Springer (2015). Her research work builds upon her extensive policy experience working inside government on national disability policy priorities, undertaking major state programmatic reforms involving research, public consultation and program implementation (2002 – 2010). She co-founded The Australian Sociological Association’s (TASA) – Critical Disability Studies Thematic Group (2008) and in 2012, was elected as the National Post Graduate Representative of TASA for a two year term (2013-2014). Thus, she is internationally renowned for her to commitment to capacity building strategies that support long term sustainable institutional change for greater impact. (Source:

Her awarded project intends to examine how four regional centres navigate the socio-economic challenges of an increasing Indigenous disability population in a context of national reform. Across OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, including Australia, disability income support policy has become central to national economic policy. Australian regional centres are experiencing growth in their Indigenous disability populations at a time of significant policy change. We do not know how regional communities respond to these policy changes, nor do we understand how national disability income support policy affects the socio-economic wellbeing of Indigenous persons with disability. This project aims to address this knowledge gap and potentially inform regional and national disability policy for Indigenous Australians. (Source:

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After the event – Public lecture with Emeritus Professor Magnus Haavelsrud

By Gaylene Galardi 4 November 2015 Past Events Presentations No Comments »

ProfOfford2On 19 October 2015, in celebration of Nonviolence Month 2015, the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) hosted a public lecture with Emeritus Professor Magnus Haavelsrud from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology titled, ‘Practicing nonviolence in education’. The event was supported by the Faculty of Humanities and was attended by just over 40 people at Curtin University, including the President of the International Centre of Non-Violence (ICON) Australia, Mr Gambhir Watts OAM, who through ICON introduced Nonviolence Month in 2014. Professor Haavelsrud has been the Patron of ICON Australia since 2013.

VenueAfter refreshments in the foyer and an introduction to the evening by Professor Baden Offord, Director of the CHRE, he then introduced the Professor who spoke about the transformative power of nonviolence that has been evidenced in so many contexts and by so many – most notably in the work by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. In his lecture, Professor Haavelsrud focused on the question of what is the pedagogic foundation for acquiring a nonviolent identity, and searching for answers as to how nonviolence can be learned and practiced in education in all spheres of life.

ProfHaavelsrud5 ProfHaavelsrud6ProfOffordThe floor was then opened for questions from the audience, which provided a lively and in depth discussion. Thank you to Gambhir Watts and ICON for bringing Professor Haavelsrud to Australia, and to Kristy O’Reilly from Curtin Corporate Events for her assistance in organising the lecture. Thanks also go to Nilesh Makwana from the Borderless Gandhi Project for his help in hosting Professor Haavelsrud while in Perth.

You can listen to the Professor’s lecture online by clicking here. Please use earphones for optimal sound quality.

Photographs by Gaylene Galardi

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After the event – Research seminar with Dr Rob Garbutt

By Gaylene Galardi 4 November 2015 Past Events Presentations Research No Comments »

At a well attended event on 8 October 2015, Dr Rob Garbutt demonstrated how colonial-Aboriginal reconciliation was supported by public engagement in an Aboriginal heritage signage project at the Lismore Showground in rural New South Wales.

Rob, a teaching-research scholar at Southern Cross University, demonstrated how the Lismore Show Aboriginal Committee’s Aboriginal Heritage Signage Project, disturbed a ‘settled space’ of contemporary Australia. Settled regions, in the southeast and southwest of the nation are contrasted with unsettled spaces – wilderness, desert and, sometimes, Aboriginal lands. These representations provide a spatial context for embodied senses of self and belonging that pattern the everyday politics. Rob’s paper examined how an embodied, practice-led research methodology could represent settled Australia as spaces of multiplicity, where stories layer landscape in ways that insert a stutter into dominant narratives of place. That is, through the signage project, the landscape was retold as layered, as a place of multiplicities, of multicultural encounters.

In Lismore, rural NSW, western industrial agriculture dominates a hinterland that appears cleared of Aboriginal presence. A rural Australian subjectivity has installed itself and made itself at home. Nowhere was this exemplified more than at the Lismore Showground where the Agricultural and Industrial Society holds its annual three-day exhibition or “Show”. However, through the reflexive, practice-led methodology that developed during the project participants experienced an embodied cultural encounter in the landscape. This encounter between local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal team members produced interpretive signs that use direct language to transform a settled gathering place into a place of ongoing multiplicity and encounter over millennia to the present. By avoiding reductive representations, the signs produce their own encounter with people and stories in a decolonising landscape.

Held at Curtin University’s Bentley campus on Noongar country, Rob’s presentation was organised by The Centre for Human Rights Education and the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies. Dr Garbutt’s research interests include cultural studies pedagogy, research methods and projects that work at the intersections of place, identity and belonging. Garbutt, a bricoleur in the academy, has published in a range of journals and edited books. His authored books include The Locals (2011) and Inside Australian Culture (co-authored in 2015).

(Written by Dr Thor Kerr)

If you would like to listen to Rob’s presentation online, please click here. The presentation is best heard with earphones.

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After the event – CHRE Mini Symposium

By Gaylene Galardi 30 October 2015 Past Events Presentations Research No Comments »

On 7 October 2015, the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) hosted a public mini symposium titled, ‘Social Change and Activism’. The event was attended by 30 people at Curtin University.


Dr Sonia Tascon

Dr Sonia Tascon

After an introduction to the day by Dr Caroline Fleay, Senior Lecturer at the CHRE, Dr Sonia Tascon from the University of the Sunshine Coast presented ‘The Power of Images: Thinking Through Films for Activism‘. Sonia’s presentation was based on one of the most often used reasons for using films in the realm of activism, being that they are powerful. For the activist, concerned mainly with the content of the film, this means that films produce an emotional effect that lingers beyond the film, and may engender action for social change in their audiences. For those concerned with film and filmmaking, this power has aesthetic, ethical and political dimensions, and films’ interrogation needs to occur not only for their narrative dimensions but also the style in which the message is produced. This has ethical and political implications, they would say, particularly to do with representation. In here talk, Sonia engaged with this tension as two different sets of demands are made of films for activism, and considered how we can navigate them productively, particularly the murky terrain of representation.

Dr Marilyn Metta

Dr Marilyn Metta

Dr Marilyn Metta from the Department of Social Sciences and International Studies at Curtin University followed with her presentation ‘What does social activism in young people look like? Engaging young people in social change through participatory social research and activism.’ In her presentation, she shared some stories about a new social activism project, Understanding through participation: Fostering cross-cultural understandings in schools. The aim of the project is to investigate the current attitudes and perceptions towards asylum seekers and refugees amongst students, and how to engage young people in crafting creative responses to the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and globally. You can find out more about the project here:

MorningTeaThere was a short break for morning tea. Dr Lisa Hartley, Senior Lecturer at the CHRE, then introduced the third speaker, Greg Watson.

Greg Watson

Greg Watson

Greg’s presentation was titled ‘“This is really something I can do”: Learning about social change and activism in local communities.‘ Greg discussed his research and work with Human Libraries that provides spaces in which people, who may otherwise never speak to each other, engage in face-to-face dialogue about difference, prejudice and stereotypes.



Dr Rob Garbutt

Dr Rob Garbutt

Dr Rob Garbutt who joined us from Southern Cross University followed, with his presentation ‘Human rights and modes of existence‘. The presentation was designed as an exploration for opening a discussion on the topic, that is, of how Latour’s (2013, 488-9) “modes of existence” might engage with human rights.

The floor was opened for questions from the audience after each presentation. You can listen to the presentations from Dr Sonia Tascon and Dr Marilyn Metta here, and from Greg Watson and Dr Rob Garbutt here. Due to technical faults on the day, the presentations on screen were not recorded. Please close the viewing box with the green screen and enlarge the screen with the video for optimal viewing.

Thank you to all presenters for their time in sharing their research at the symposium.

Photographs by Gaylene Galardi

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