A Federation University-led project will investigate the changing face of cultural tourism in central Australia now and into the future, and bring PhD students into Ballarat.
Although the Australian Research Council-funded project will focus on employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory, Federation Uni's Professor of History Keir Reeves says lessons learned will be able to be implemented in Indigenous cultural tourism across the country including the Victorian goldfields, Wimmera and Grampians.
Professor Reeves will be chief investigator on the project which will work with a team of researchers and organisations from across Australia to investigate cultural tourism in central Australia and examine pathways towards sustainable Indigenous employment in and around the national park.
Aboriginal community members, industry and government stakeholders will meet to identify micro-business opportunities and young training initiatives, and to foster relationships across cultural divides, and acknowledge the economic value of Aboriginal history and understanding.
"I am delighted for the local Indigenous groups and really looking forward to working on this important project with various partners and researchers, that has been percolating for almost two years," he said.
Professor Reeves said funding for the project also included several postgraduate PhD positions in Ballarat.
"This three year project is really about finding employment strategies for Indigenous communities associated with Uluru Kata-Tjuta using cultural tourism," he said.
"In the long run the hope would be that the lessons learned from Yulara and Uluru-Kata Tjuta could be transferred or applied to other cultural and Indigenous tourism."
Professor Reeves said anecdotally there was increased interest from the community in Indigenous cultural tourism ventures and the project would help quantify the appetite for these tourism experiences.
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"This is about celebrating Indigenous culture and providing a pathway for respectful employment programs and Indigenous cultural tourism in the post-COVID environment."
Local Indigenous communities are among the key stakeholders on the project.
"There will be funded PhD student places available to work on the project based here in Ballarat," Professor Reeves said. "I'm really excited about this part of it as it is skills training and funding for Indigenous research."
He said this was typical of the type of research that mattered to regions and was perfectly aligned to the role of regional universities.
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