12 December 2014

Indigenous communities have benefited from the research of two University of Queensland Research Higher Degree graduates.  

UQ’s School of Architecture’s Aboriginal Environments Research Centre farewelled Dr Janine Godwin-Thompson and Malcolm Connolly, who have both made significant impacts to the wider indigenous community through their studies.

Dr Godwin-Thompson completed her PhD on the relationships between Aboriginal health and culturally appropriate housing design in the rural western town of Dajarra (north-west Queensland).

“My findings revealed that past inadequate government policies, combined with Aboriginal people using their domiciliary spaces in different ways from the conventions of western housing, has resulted in inadequate and culturally unresponsive housing,” Ms Godwin-Thompson said.

“My thesis revealed how Aboriginal residents are adapting and modifying living spaces in response to their cultural environment, and according their particular worldview to promote their sense of wellbeing.”

Mr Connolly’s research into Triodia pungens, a resinous spinifex grass, is set to change the building industry and remote Aboriginal communities.

Malcolm said the sustainability of the grass was a paramount focus for his research.

“This type of grass has the potential to be a future bio-resource for the building industry and a resource for remote Aboriginal communities that are likely to benefit from any new sustainable spinifex-harvesting industry,” Mr Connolly said.

“In an attempt to examine its sustainability, I conducted fire and harvesting experiments within a spinifex/snappy gum shrubland near Camooweal, north-west Queensland.

“Spinifex recovers entirely by seedling, but partial removal of hummocks allows spinifex to recover quickly and sustainably, which has important implications for a sustainable spinifex harvesting industry.”

Aboriginal Environments Research Centre Director Professor Paul Memmott said the Centre had a commitment to mentoring and successfully graduating indigenous students.

“Jenine and Malcolm have both contributed greatly to the Centre during their time here,” Professor Memmott said.

“Their individual research projects will greatly impact upon their own indigenous communities, and that of the wider society.”

Mr Connolly and Dr Godwin-Thompson graduated on Saturday 13 December.

Media: Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, Communications Officer, Madelene Flanagan, 3365 8525 or m.flanagan@uq.edu.au.

Take a look at some of our graduates from Friday, 12 December.