Projects | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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

Building Australia-China research capabilities for intercultural knowledge collaboration

Professor Catherine Manathunga, UniSC; Dr Qi Jing, RMIT; Professor Tracey Bunda, UQ and Ngugi/Wakka Wakka Senior woman; Professor Michael Singh, WSU.

  • Total value: $208,125 (cash and in-kind)
  • DFAT grant: $30,000
  • Dates: August 2018 to June 2020

This project will increase knowledge collaboration, educational connectivity and cultural engagement between Australia and China. It aims to improving the transcultural research capabilities of research supervisors and students in China and Australia. This project will create and trial five research-based modules on Chinese and Australian history and culture, multilingual knowledge co-construction, supervisory relationships and time mapping. This multi-sited project will generate community energy through art exhibitions, which showcase time maps of supervisors’ and students’ intellectual trajectories in Sydney, Beijing and Changchun. A project website will be developed. Williams’, Bunda’s, Claxton’s and MacKinnon’s 2017 Indigenous Knowledge global decolonisation praxis approach will promote transformative learning experiences and draws upon Indigenous Knowledge principles of respect, relationality, reciprocity and responsiveness.

Using Indigenous knowledge to guide the wupeng boat © Annie Daley and Lu Siyi, 2017
Using Indigenous knowledge to guide the wupeng boat © Annie Daley and Lu Siyi, 2017
Using Indigenous knowledge to guide the wupeng boat © Annie Daley and Lu Siyi, 2017
© C. Manathunga, 2018.
© C. Manathunga, 2018.
Wandiny (gathering together) listening with the heart: uniting nations through poetry

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

Transcultural and Indigenous Pedagogies Research Group seed grant: $3,000
Dates: 2019-2021

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 ZAPPSouth African Poetry Project ( ).

The 'university place': How and why place influences the engagement and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students

Professor Maria Raciti, UniSC; Kalkadoon-Thaniquith/Bwgcolman women; Professor Jennifer Carter, UniSC; Associate Professor Kathryn Gilbey, USQ and Alyawarre woman.

This project aimed to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student engagement and retention in university study by understanding the impact of the ‘university place’. A case study approach was used involving two case universities and the use of mixed methods. Interviews and focus groups were used to collect data from Indigenous students, academic staff, and administrative, professional and technical staff, and surveys of Indigenous students and academic teaching staff. Findings suggest that universities should understand that ‘university places’ are an intersection of Indigenous peoples’ social identities (as a student, as Indigenous, as an emerging professional). Several research outputs have resulted from this project including the Project E-booklet.

2020 Australian Edition of the Chicago Quarterly Review

Dr Paul Williams and Dr Shelley Davidow, UniSC.

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.

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

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.

  • Dates: 2018

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).

Approaching Literacy through Narrative and Creative Writing

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.

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.

Where are the Ghundus?

Dr Sharon Louth, UniSC; Aunty Joyce Bonner, UniSC and Butchulla Elder; Dr Keane Wheeler, Deakin University.

Where are the Ghundus? Is a retrospective exploration of the long-term and deep-reaching impact of an educational aspirations program, Burunga M Gambay (BMG), which was conducted in 2012 over a one year period. The longitudinal study seeks out the original participants of the project to discuss and reflect on BMG to review its long-term effectiveness on building aspirations, career pathways, sharing Indigenous knowledges and life-long learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The aim of the project is to identify and understand how to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples meaningfully through culturally appropriate education programs.

Students affected by complex trauma: The role of teachers' professional agency in implementing curriculum.

Dr Mallihai Tambyah, QUT; Dr Tracey Sempowicz, UniSC.

The term ‘complex trauma’ describes long-term exposure to multiple traumatic events affecting aspects of a child’s development, personal relationships and identity. This research project is being undertaken as a pilot study which explores teachers’ professional agency related to curriculum and inclusion when teaching students affected by complex trauma. The purpose of this project is to investigate primary and middle school teachers’ knowledge and professional agency in history, English and HPE units in relation to students affected by complex trauma.

Improving the outcomes of Omani International English Language Testing System (IELTS) candidates through an intensive lexically contextualized preparation program

Dr Michael Carey, UniSC; Dr Manisha R Sinha and Dr Yogesh Kumar Sinha, Sohar University, Oman; Associate Professor Thomas Roche, SCU.

The aim of this project is to determine if an intensive English language test preparation program for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which has been previously validated through research in Indonesia (Carey & Robinson, 2014), can improve the English language proficiency and test taking readiness of Omani English learners. Achieving an IELTS score above 6.0 is the goal of over 2,000,000 English language learners annually, but achieving this goal is extremely difficult, especially if the candidate is not prepared for the test. A pragmatic outcome of the project is that it will provide Oman with an IELTS preparation program tailored to the Oman context and delivered by project-trained Omani IELTS instructors. This program can then be utilized throughout the country to provide Omani nationals with access to international opportunities in education and the professions, thereby increasing the prospects of Omani citizens, developing human resource capacity and advancing Oman’s education system towards international standards.

Our stories – Our voice: Australian international student narratives

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

Transcultural and Indigenous Pedagogies Research Group seed grant: $3,000
Dates: 2019-2021

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.

Promoting culturally safe learning in higher education pilot project

Dr Sharon Louth, UniSC; Dr Amy Mortimer, UniSC; Natalie McMaster, UniSC; Dr Beverly Dann, UniSC; Dr Tracey Sanderson, UniSC; Dr Rachael Dwyer, UniSC

Transcultural and Indigenous Pedagogies Research Group seed grant and DVCA grant: $8,000
Dates: 2019-2021

The purpose of this project is to review existing frameworks for embedding First Nations’ perspectives across a variety of education providers from both national and international contexts. This study sets out to identify issues and recognise successful strategies which can be applied and extended to existing practices within UniSC to provide culturally relevant and respectful teaching and learning practices that enhance student learning outcomes.
The findings of this review will enable the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) to advance teaching and learning to effectively embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment practices across UniSC and with the potential to expand to other societal institutions.

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