Professor Michael Ondaatje is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Arts and Academic Culture at ACU. A historian by training, he played an important role in preparing our high-scoring engagement submission in FoR 21—History and Archaeology—for the inaugural EI assessment. Professor Ondaatje is an engagement champion at ACU.
Conducted by the ARC, EI 18 sought to reveal how universities and their researchers are collaborating with communities, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector to ensure that the value of research is experienced beyond academia.
Professor Ondaatje said our FoR 21 engagement submission demonstrates that ACU is working with end-users to translate research into social benefits.
“Researchers in Australian social history conceptualise engagement as research based on shared authority. This means researching with, rather than on, stakeholders and giving them input into how their stories are told,” he said.
“The researchers see contributions to public debate and the media as another form of engagement with end-users, and to this end, often feature in television, radio and print stories. They also provide reports to government enquiries such as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”
ACU’s engagement submission for FoR 21 referred to four research projects: Find & Connect; A History of Indigenous Military Service; A History of Forced Adoptions, 1945–1975; and Australia’s First National History of Foster Care, 1788–2000.
“A History of Indigenous Military Service, for example, explored the involvement of Indigenous people in Australia’s defence forces from the 1890s to 2000,” Professor Ondaatje said.
“Researchers engaged directly with Indigenous communities to record the experiences of military personnel and their families, and the oral histories were subsequently made available on the Yarn Up website.
“The project also brought together agencies dealing with veterans and their families and major collecting and exhibiting institutions to highlight the significant contributions of Indigenous people to the Australian military. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Department of Defence, Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia were among the research partners.”
ACU aspires to be a leader in research engagement and will emphasise the value of the reciprocal, transformative partnerships it has in future EI assessments.
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