First In Family, First For Family: Indigenous academic women's legacy motivation


  • Amy Thunig Macquarie University



Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, women, academic, legacy, higher education


Indigenous academics are a minority within the academy, with the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, staffing, and student numbers well established. A growing body of literature examines the motivations of Indigenous peoples who enroll and complete University degrees, however a dearth of literature examines the journeys and motivations of those who choose to be academics. A review of papers largely produced by Indigenous academics highlights that though a paucity of literature directly centers their motivation in undertaking their initial studies or joining the academy; legacy, family and community motivations appear regularly, though often mentioned in incidental, backgrounded or de-centered ways. Drawing upon existing literature, interviews with 17 Indigenous academic women, and Indigenous Research Methodologies, this article foregrounds and centers consideration of legacy motivations for academic women’s professional work, and initial journey into higher education study. It argues the implications of academic engagement for Indigenous women, in so-called Australia, include wider influences, impacts and outcomes for their immediate familial, extended kinship and broader Indigenous community groups. It posits that these are not secondary or incidental, but primary motivations and shaping influences on Indigenous women's academics careers and how they should be understood, valued and supported by institutions.


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Author Biography

Amy Thunig, Macquarie University

Amy Thunig is an academic in the School of Education at Macquarie University. A Gomeroi woman, Amy has a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters degree in Teaching (Primary) and recently submitted her PhD in education with a focus on Indigenous women in academia. In 2019 Amy was invited to give her TEDx talk “Disruption is not a dirty word” and was named Emerging Leader in the Public Sector. Amy has a forthcoming book of personal essays titled Tell Me Again due for publication with UQP in 2022 and hosts the podcast Blacademia: Yarns with First Nations/Indigenous academics.


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How to Cite

Thunig, A. (2022). First In Family, First For Family: Indigenous academic women’s legacy motivation. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(1).