Beyond the doctorate: Exploring Indigenous Early Career Research trajectories




Indigenous, early career, research, trajectory


Growing research into the experiences of non-Indigenous early career researchers (ECRs) has identified a multitude of challenges that can impede early research career development. Expectations to publish, secure research grants and to deliver large teaching loads contribute to high levels of frustration and stress. While additional challenges - often associated with cultural work - have emerged in the literature with Australian and international Indigenous academics, research focused specifically on Indigenous Australian early career researchers is severely lacking. This paper begins with an examination of the Australian Indigenous pipeline to early career positions through undergraduate and postgraduate study. It reviews the trajectories of non-Indigenous early career researchers and then draws on emerging research with Indigenous academics in Australia and abroad to advocate specific investigation of the career trajectories of Indigenous Australian early career researchers. In accordance with a commitment from Australian universities to increase the number of Indigenous students and scholars, it is critical that experiences and needs of Indigenous early career researchers are investigated and understood. With a deeper level of understanding more effective strategies and systems can be implemented to better support and facilitate career trajectories of Indigenous Australian early career researchers and thus build a richer academy.


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Author Biographies

Michelle Locke, Western Sydney University

Michelle Locke is a proud Dharug woman, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Western Sydney, Kingswood NSW. She is currently engaged in the Developing Indigenous Early Career Researchers ARC Project with Professor Michelle Trudgett, Professor Susan Page and Dr Rhonda Povey. Michelle’s thesis, Yanna Jannawi: Walk with Me. Centering Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Early Education and Care Services was conferred in January 2021 through the Centre for Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges (CAIK) at the University of Technology Sydney. This thesis examines Indigenous perspectives on culturally relevant and respectful approaches to the inclusion of Indigenous Ways of Knowing in mainstream early education and care services. In 2018, Michelle received the Australian Association for Research in Education’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Student Researcher award for her conference paper, Wirrawi Bubuwul – Aboriginal Women Strong.

Michelle Trudgett, Western Sydney University

Professor Michelle Trudgett is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership at Western Sydney University. Professor Trudgett’s significant contributions to the sector have been recognised through several awards including the highly prestigious National NAIDOC Scholar of the Year Award, the Neville Bonner Award for Teaching Excellence, and the University of New England Distinguished Alumni Award.

Professor Trudgett currently serves as the inaugural Chair of the New South Wales Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Committee and Deputy Chair of the inaugural Universities Australia Prov/Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Committee. She has also provided leadership to the Australian Research Council as the Chair of the Indigenous committee that advised on the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) and the Engagement and Impact (EI) Review.

Susan Page, Western Sydney University

Professor Susan Page is an Aboriginal Australian academic whose research focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of learning, leadership and academic work in higher education and student learning in Indigenous Studies. Susan is currently Director of Indigenous Learning and Teaching at Western Sydney University. She has held a number of leadership positions including Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement) and Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, Head of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University and she has led a university-wide Indigenous graduate attribute project at UTS. Susan has collaborated on multiple competitive research grants, has received a national award for Excellence in Teaching (Neville Bonner Award) and is well published in the area of Indigenous Higher Education. From 2015-2018 Susan was an elected Director of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium and she is currently an appointed Indigenous representative for the Universities Australia Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic committee. Susan recently co-edited a special edition of the journal Higher Education Research and Development, Ō tāt.ou reo, Na domoda, Kuruwilang birad: Indigenous voices in higher education. In 2020 Susan worked with an amazing multidisciplinary team to develop her first micro-credential, Supervising Indigenous Higher Degree Research (UTS).


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How to Cite

Locke, M., Trudgett, M., & Page, S. . (2022). Beyond the doctorate: Exploring Indigenous Early Career Research trajectories. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(1).




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