Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat

Yupingathi and Meriam

I have over 25 years’ experience in leading, implementing, and evaluating cultural ways of doing, knowing and being into higher education curricula, health service delivery and public policy. My research approach is mixed methods. In 2005, I received a community award for the social impact work that I led in the Torres Strait. I have held several subject matter expert positions over the years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, and decolonising higher education and public health policy. For these roles, I received the Griffith Health's 2021 Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award. By applying my Western qualifications to my cultural knowledge, I feel that I am providing necessary insight to culturally safe, sustainable, and effective change towards achieving collective empowerment.

Getting on with practicing indigeneity

"Getting on with practicing indigeneity, Te Kawehau Hoskins:
I often think the project of ‘decolonsing’ is dominantly understood as forms of ‘critique’ framed within particular ways of thinking about power, social identities and relations. Though important to struggles for recognition, such decolonising approaches alone can also maintain our (indigenous) identification with colonizing logics and can separate us from our powers. Those unique, always relational ways of being and doing in the world - from which Indigenous practices in education and beyond can flourish.

Sovereignty, governance and indigeneity, Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat:
All too often we hear the word sovereignty, or its intention, thrown around in policy like a loose rag in the ocean with no consideration for the process that needs to be appropriately adopted to ensure Aboriginal-Torres-Strait-Islander people have control of their lives. Sovereignty aligns with governance and good governance aligns with integrity and when an institution publicly announces to ‘work in genuine partnership’ or to have ‘developed in partnership’ or ‘will be delivered in partnership’ etc. the public roll their eyes. The question is: do these institutions know the meaning of their words, is it another ‘tick-a-box’ exercise as they have no desire to relinquish power and control to an Indigenous population? Or is it just fear? The excuse is often “it has to be within the guidelines of the institution” while they blatantly ignore the guidelines of an age-old culture defined by the construct of an ancient social system."

Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat