“It’s important that we stop incorporating Indigenous perspectives as an exotic add-on or guest lecture. Where relevant, in Australian education and research, Indigenous knowledges and perspectives should be a core part of our teaching and something our students should learn to think about.”
Associate Professor John Bradley’s work with Indigenous families and communities began early in his teaching career, when he witnessed the lack of understanding displayed by colleagues, towards Indigenous history and culture in Australia. He decided to pursue a career in research and academia, so that he could do more to educate himself and others.
His PhD research focused on Indigenous ways of understanding dugong and marine turtles - and how that knowledge overlaps or differentiates from Western knowledge. In 2011, he founded the Monash Country Lines Archive and today, John is the Deputy Director of the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre.
The Monash Country Lines Archive is an animation program that records stories in Indigenous languages, often using 3D techniques that can create the country as it looked before colonisation. “The animations have an impact in the community because it's their knowledge, you just see them come home.”
Some of these languages have not been spoken for over a hundred years. John himself speaks three Indigenous languages – taught to him by the families and communities he’s met during his research. “I feel profoundly enriched in being able to speak languages other than English. I was graciously taught by Aboriginal families and communities, and these experiences and skill sets have shaped how I teach, research and my personal understanding of what is important in life.”
John teaches first year students about Indigenous relationships and explores points of contention that have shaped the position of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians in contemporary society.
John’s goal is to demonstrate that Aboriginal knowledges has a place in contemporary education and in society as a whole – and that all knowledge should be accepted. “As commonly said by Aboriginal people, we need to grow ears or to listen. If more people were able to listen, and understand the value of listening, they would also become more intelligent. Not just academically intelligent, but emotionally intelligent too, about learning how to be in this world.”
Associate Professor John Bradley,
Deputy Director, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre - Faculty of Arts