Creative Cultural Practices | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Creative Cultural Practices

In partnership with First Nations, migrant, refugee and culturally diverse communities our researchers seek to revive, document and extend the languages, educational and social and creative cultural practices through transdisciplinary explorations of poetry, art, music, dance, and other creative forms, and social and educational interactions.
This theme is led by Dr Rachael Dwyer

(Education and Tertiary Access)

Dr Rachael Dwyer has a strong interest in mentoring and research leadership, in particular, building collaborations between researchers that are mutually beneficial. Creative arts and social justice have been defining features of Rachael's scholarship. Her integrated research, engagement and teaching work has focused on the ways in which teachers’ values and beliefs are effectively leveraged for social change through arts-based and anti-racist research methods and pedagogies. Rachael's scholarship has pursued a social change agenda recognising that the three aspects of her academic work are mutually-informing. Arts education, arts-based methods and decolonising practices allow for rich, collaborative, applied work, developing sustained and sustaining relationships with research partners, participants, educators and community stakeholders.



Our innovative, transdisciplinary research projects harness expertise at UniSC and beyond.

Beeyali Project - Research and Development, Noosa Biosphere Reserve

Beeyali is a creative research project exploring new methods for visualising the calls of wildlife on Kabi Kabi Country, the traditional lands, and waters of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. The project brings together Indigenous knowledge, environmental research, emerging technology, photography and sound to visualise wildlife calls using cymatics, the science of visualising acoustic energy or sound. The first phase of the project focuses on the calls of Black Cockatoos through a series of experiments to reveal cymatics with organic materials and digital technology.

Lead organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2022-2023
Funding: $20 000

Chief Investigators:

  • Dr Leah Barclay
  • Dr Tricia King

Singing Kabi Kabi: Embedding Aboriginal perspectives in school classrooms through language and song

There is a general sense that more needs to be done to ensure that histories and knowledges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are valued within the curriculum. However, this presents a number of challenges for teachers and schools. As Yunkaporta (2009) articulates, “There is an injustice in this for non-Aboriginal teachers. They are expected to do something that nobody has shown them how to do. This is because nobody knows how to do it. There is plenty of research and training around what it is, and why it is important, but there is very little out there that deals with the how.” This research seeks to propose one possible how, and to investigate the perceptions of teachers and preservice teachers who participate.

This project seeks to work with Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi elders and community members on the Sunshine Coast to develop resources for primary schools that draw together language, cultural stories and song. The project builds on the work of Candace Kruger and the resources developed by the Yugambeh Youth Aboriginal Corporation. Further, the project will engage participating teachers in a workshop intended to support the use of the resources, and will explore the impact on teachers’ self-efficacy about embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

It is expected that the information gathered through the research will assist in improving and expanding the workshop program and resources, and provide insights into how schools might respectfully embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the curriculum using language and song. The research also seeks to examine the process of working together, as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers negotiating relationships with community and school stakeholders.

Lead organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2020-2021
Funding: $3,000 (ITRC Seed Grant)

Chief Investigators:

  • Dr Rachael Dwyer, UniSC 
  • Candace Kruger (Gold Coast Kombumerri woman)

2020 Australian Edition of the Chicago Quarterly Review

This project will showcase multicultural and marginal Australian voices in an Australian edition of the Chicago Quarterly Review, presenting these Australian writers and their unique views, perspectives and experiences of the world to a wide international reading audience. This edition would be a rare contribution to the literary ecology of our time and enable Australian writers to have an international profile accessible to a wide reading audience.

The Chicago Quarterly Review is a not-for-profit and well-known American literary journal that has been responsible for launching authors’ careers and helping promote them and their work. The process involves inviting selected authors and an artist, working with them in an editorial capacity and submitting final drafts to the USA senior editors for final feedback. The project will then culminate in a US and an Australian launch of a one-off 2020 Australian edition of the Chicago Quarterly Review.

Lead Organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2019-2020
Funding: $15,000 (Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund)

Chief Investigators

  • Dr Paul Williams, UniSC
  • Dr Shelley Davidow, UniSC

Wandiny (gathering together) listening with the heart: Uniting nations through poetry

The Indigenous Poetry Project aims to create spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, poets and artists to work with research team members, creative writers, preservice teachers and school teachers to share stories and create poetry as a response to those stories.

The initial creative gathering will involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and poets telling stories, which will then serve as the foundation for the audience to create poetry in response. This will seed a range of creative initiatives including anthologies, performance and art work as a means of disseminating our creative work.

The project team is committed to slow scholarship, to allowing the project to grow organically, to ‘dadirri’ (deep listening), to walking together and to decolonial ways of working involving respect, reciprocity, relationality and responsiveness. Our work is based upon the methodologies and approaches developed by Denise Newfield and colleagues at Witwatersrand University in South Africa in their internationally funded project ZAPP – South African Poetry Project.

Lead organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2019-2021
Funding: $3,000 (ITRC Seed Grant)

Chief Investigators:

  • Professor Catherine Manathunga, UniSC
  • Professor Maria Raciti, UniSC and Kalkadoon-Thaniquith/Bwgcolman woman
  • Dr Shelley Davidow, UniSC
  • Dr Paul Williams, UniSC
  • Dr Alison Willis, UniSC
  • A/Professor Kathryn Gilbey, Batchelor Institute and Alyawarre woman
  • Aunty Dr Sue Stanton, Batchelor Institute and Kungarakan Elder and Traditional Land Owner
  • Professor Tracey Bunda, UQ and Ngugi/Wakka Wakka Senior woman


Wandiny Poetry Anthology

Our stories – Our voice: Australian international student narratives

This project will showcase the unique voices, stories and creative writing styles of UniSC students who are learners of English as an additional language (LEAL). In the context of creative writing, LEAL writers have the capacity to express important insights and experiences particularly relevant to cultural identity, transformation and understanding. Unlike the teaching of academic writing, with its focus on teaching basic expression, grammar and syntax, rhetoric and composition, creative writing focuses on imagination and language experimentation.

The significance of the project is that it will provide the opportunity for creative writing students, who do not speak or write in standardized English, to have a platform in which the marginal becomes central, even celebratory and inspiring. The expected contributions of this project are the transformation of students’ confidence in the creative expressive power of their LEAL voice, pedagogical strategies for Creative Writing tutors and insights into the LEAL voice.

Lead organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2019-2021
Funding: $3,000 (ITRC Seed Grant)

Chief Investigators

  • Dr Michael Carey, UniSC
  • Dr Paul Williams, UniSC
  • Dr Shelley Davidow, UniSC
  • Dr Ali Black, UniSC
  • Dr Carol Smith, UniSC
  • Dr Tracey Sempowicz

Approaching literacy through narrative and creative writing

In this project, we are using a De-colonial approach to Literacy in Year 9 – setting up a creative writing intervention for Year 9 students that starts out with Aboriginal cultural teachers sharing with students what story means from an Aboriginal perspective. The objective is to see whether approaching writing and narrative from the standpoint of understanding what story means in Aboriginal worldviews will enable all students to improve their writing skills.

If this works for mostly non-Indigenous students, the potential for this to be repeated in other communities is wide. Pre and post NAPLAN-like writing tests will ascertain whether the approach is effective in improving writing skills even when measured with a narrow tool like NAPLAN. No doubt other essential and transferable skills and capacities will be developed with this approach.

Lead organisation: UniSC Australia
Project dates: 2018
Funding: $13,500 (Steiner Education Australia grant)

Chief Investigators

  • Dr Shelley Davidow, UniSC
  • Dr Michael Carey, UniSC
  • Dr Paul Williams, UniSC
  • Dr Bronwen Haralambous
  • Paul Malcahy, Aboriginal artist
  • Waiata Telfer, Aboriginal playwright and poet
  • Steiner Education Australia​

Stories of belonging: black and white artivist women embody ancestry and place

This project focused on interrogating the troubled notion of belonging in Australia. Sometimes data invites more of us. To be physically held and touched, through hands creating and crafting with matter, cultivating a closer connection to the fibres, threads, textures and sinews of data. Through touching and shaping the materiality of data, other beings, places and times are aroused. In this arts-based and performative work we share the story of data that invited more of us and how this has spurred the creation of an exhibition titled Storying ancestry and place: interrogating belonging in Australia with Indigenous and non-Indigenous artist/scholars for an arts festival in Queensland, Australia.

This work by the collective, SISTAS Holding Space deeply interrogates our ontological positionality as researchers, in particular what this means in the Australian context – a colonised nation. The scars of colonisation are held and heard through Black and White Australian women creating and interrogating belonging alongside each other – listening and holding space for each other. We air the pains of ontological destruction, silencing, disconnection and emptiness.

Through experimental making research methodology we argue the primacy of storying and relationships in bridging spaces between educational, academic and artistic institutions. Black and white Australian women artivists together provoke resonant and entangled understandings of belonging and displacement through storied artworks, performances and installations. Artworks created by eight artist/researchers that trouble belonging in the colonial nation Australia are brought to life through performed storying. Exhibition curators (Tracey Bunda & Louise Phillips) introduce the exhibition (that stems from their book Research through, with and as storying).

Lead organisation: UQ Australia
Project dates: August 2018
Funding: UQ

Chief Investigators

  • Professor Tracey Bunda (Ngugi and Wakka Wakka woman)
  • Ngioka Bunda-Heath (Ngugi, Wakka Wakka and Birupi woman)
  • Anjelena Parfitt (Easterm Arrernte woman)
  • Dr Robyn Heckenberg (Wiradjuri woman)
  • Dr Ali Black, UniSC
  • Dr Lexi Lasczik (Australian Hungarian woman)
  • Dr Louise Phillips and Dr Kim Snepvangers


Explore the Building Knowledge Systems and Community Capacity Exchange research themes.

Contact the Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre (ITRC) by email for more information.