Project team

Historical Frontier Violence

This is a multi-disciplinary project that brings together researchers from history, economics, geography, business leadership, psychology and digital humanities. The project involves a combination of quantitative analysis and qualitative field work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Steering committee

  • Fiona Cornforth (National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research, ANU)

    Fiona Cornforth is of the Wuthathi peoples of the far north-east cape of Queensland with family roots also in Zenadth Kes (the Torres Strait Islands). On Monday 7 August 2023, Fiona Cornforth joined the ANU National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research as its inaugural Head. On a foundation of senior and leadership roles of community and of governments, she has used management degrees and tertiary teaching accreditation to understand the opportunities for systems to change, knowing the impacts of intergenerational trauma as well as the power and strengths of First Nations peoples’ cultures to lead intergenerational healing.

  • Gavin Morris (Principal, Yipirinya School in Alice Springs)

    Dr Gavin Morris has two decades of teaching experience in schools around Australia and currently lecturers in undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the College of Education at Charles Darwin University. Gavin's experience relates to First Nations issues and research, and he has developed significant relationships with a number of Aboriginal communities throughout the Northern Territory. He holds a Bachelor of Education from James Cook University, a Master of Education from the University of Sydney and a PhD from Charles Darwin University. Gavin’s PhD captured a ‘truth-telling’ which investigated the trauma associated with the experience of colonisation in a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.

  • Levi-Craig Murray (Strategic Manager of Indigenous Data, University of Melbourne)

    Levi-Craig Murray is an Aboriginal man of Wakka Wakka and Kubi Kubi descent. Murray is an expert health strategist with over sixteen years of cross-sector experience in Health and Education. Murray is committed to the perpetual independence, growth and evolution of healthcare and infrastructure of our First Nations and their respective communities. Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, Murray delivered senior clinical leadership and advocacy to Victoria's Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. In April 2022, he was appointed as the Strategic Manager of Indigenous Data with the Indigenous Studies Unit at Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (The University of Melbourne), overseeing the HASS Research Data Commons and Indigenous Research Capability Program Project.

  • Rick Shaw (Deloitte)

    Rick Shaw is a Gamillaroi mathematician and actuary from northern NSW. He has advised the IMF and World Bank on social security reform in the Middle East, and several governments on establishing funding mechanisms to cover losses from terrorism and natural catastrophes. He was on the Death Watch committee that led to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. His current focus is combining Aboriginal and Western ways to address complex problems, and he’s still hoping for a call up to the Wallabies.

  • Debra Swan (Grandmothers Against Removals)

    Debra Swan is an Gomeroi woman from Moree and a founding member of Grandmothers Against Removal (GMAR) NSW. Debra previously worked in the NSW child protection system for 13 years as a caseworker, and brings strong experience and knowledge of the child protection system and its impacts on Aboriginal children and families to the Review. Debra, along with Suellyn Tighe and Jennifer Swan, was instrumental in developing guiding principles for strengthening local Aboriginal participation in child protection decision-making NSW and drawing attention to issues in child protection nationally.

  • Uncle Ronald (Ringo) Terrick (Blak Pearl)

    Uncle Ronald (Ringo) Terrick is a Wurundjeri Gunai/Kurnai Elder. He has vast cultural knowledge of country and is experienced in working with archaeologists mapping out sacred sites and surveying the land for tangible and intangible heritage. During his life, he has experienced severe hardship including institutionalisation, addiction, family violence, and homelessness - a part of his journey that has led him to be a strong advocate for the importance of cultural healing practices and for the well-being of his peoples and communities. He works with Blak Pearl studio, a creative drop-in space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

  • Leonie Williamson (Healing Foundation)

Past members

  • Walter Dorrington (Healing Foundation) 

    Walter is a Ngemba man born and bred in Bourke in far western NSW and currently lives on Ngunnawal & Ngambri land in the ACT. Walter has been a member and Director of non-profit and Aboriginal organisations for over 20 years. He also developed and delivered the Australian Government’s first National Indigenous Men’s Leadership Program (2005-2009) to over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. He has a genuine commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through supporting their aspirations and self-determination. Walter is also passionate about leading and driving change in systems to support the health and wellbeing of First Nation Peoples as determined by them.

  • Kado Muir (Aboriginal ESG Consultant - Reconciliation Action Plan)

    Kado Muir is a Senior Traditional Owner and Cultural Knowledge Holder for Ngalia people, in the deserts of Western Australia, including the Tjiwarl and Manta Rirrtinya Native Title Determinations. As a formally trained anthropologist and archaeologist, Kado is also a recognised specialist in traditional knowledge based Ethnoecology. A successful entrepreneur with a number of businesses built around a self-created and proven “Wealth in First Nations” model, Kado offers consulting, negotiation services and business interests in sandalwood, ICT technology, engineering and innovation products. Kado is Chair of the National Native Title Council, Co-Chair of the First National Heritage Protection Alliance, and a steering group member of the First Nations Clean Energy Network.


  • Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson, Expert consultant (Southern Cross University)

    Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage. Her academic contributions to the understanding of trauma-related issues stemming from the violence of colonisation and the healing/recovery of Indigenous peoples from such trauma have won her the Carrick Neville Bonner Award in 2006 for her curriculum development and innovative teaching practice. In 2011 she was awarded the Fritz Redlick Memorial Award for Human Rights and Mental Health from the Harvard University program for refugee trauma. On 26 January 2019, Judy received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to the Indigenous community, to education, and to mental health.

  • Associate Professor Michelle Evans, Chief Investigator (University of Melbourne)

    Michelle is a qualitative researcher specialising in Indigenous engaged research, qualitative empirical research, and arts-based methodology. Michelle is the inaugural Director of Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership and Associate Dean (Indigenous) at Faculty of Business and Economics and the Melbourne Business School. Michelle, a Fulbright scholar, has a unique combination of professional experience in management, community engagement and facilitation coupled with her excellent track record in research. Michelle has attracted five highly competitive Australian Research Council grants and has personally taught and mentored over 300 Australian Indigenous business people through various Indigenous business programs.

  • Dr Ash Francisco (University of Melbourne)

    Ash is a proud Wiradjuri woman, published researcher, lecturer and the engagement lead at the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership at the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School. She has a PhD in NSW Aboriginal History from the Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle and is an inaugural member of the Yuma Yirramboi Victorian Aboriginal Economic and Employment Council, a board member for Ganbina, and an advisor of Richmond Football Club’s reconciliation advisory group and MCA's Bangawarra Art Yarns Reference Group. She lives and works on Taungurung Country in regional Victoria and is committed to advancing regional business connection and opportunity.

  • Emeritus Professor Boyd Hunter FASSA, Chief Investigator (ANU)

    Boyd has achieved distinction in the fields of Economic Geography, Economic History, and Indigenous Economic Policy. He has been crucial in developing the engagement of the economics profession in Indigenous issues. There are a number of intersecting strands to this work: Indigenous labour market analysis, the geography of (Indigenous) diversity; pioneering new uses of data; influential analysis of Indigenous poverty and path breaking work on Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurship. In this project, he will play a leading role in the research estimating the size and distribution of Indigenous populations pre-settlement and evaluating the historical drivers of frontier violence.

  • Yashu Kalera, Research Assistant (University of Melbourne)

    Yashu is a Foundation Fellow with The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Sciences. She has provided data insights and strategies on market and pricing trends in the eCommerce and digital advertising fields. She has experience in conducting literature reviews on inter-disciplinary themes, digitalising impact assessment surveys, and web scraping. On this project, she is assisting Dr. Julie Moschion and Dr. Cain Polidano with gathering, structuring, and analysing data on the outcomes of Frontier Violence.

  • Dr Francis Markham, Chief Investigator (ANU)

    Francis Markham is an economic geographer and research fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, the Australian National University. His role on the project involves contributing toward developing better quantitative descriptions of the historical geographies of massacres in Australia.

  • Associate Professor Julie Moschion, Lead Chief Investigator (University of Melbourne)

    Julie has experience leading projects, delivering high quality reports to government and has been the driver of a highly published research agenda on homelessness. Over the past decade, she has led quantitative analysis as part of multi-disciplinary teams looking at the drivers and consequences of homelessness. She has experience supervising junior staff and is a trained Indigenous staff mentor. On this project, Julie leads the research agenda and the day-to-day management of the project. She also leads the quantitative work looking at the drivers and legacy of historical frontier violence and is responsible for supervising the quantitative research assistant.

  • Dr Bill Pascoe , Post-doctoral research fellow (University of Melbourne)

    Dr Bill Pascoe is a Digital Humanities (DH) specialist and is the System Architect for Time Layered Cultural Map, a national digital humanities mapping infrastructure project. He has worked with the Centre For 21st Century Humanities and the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing at the University of Newcastle and has been a leader and contributor in innovative and high impact DH and eResearch projects, including the Colonial Frontier Massacres project, the EMWRN archive and ELDTA endangered languages. He has research software engineer experience across water engineering, finance, health and humanities and an education in English, semiotics and philosophy.

  • Dr Cain Polidano, Chief Investigator (University of Melbourne)

    Cain is an applied microeconomist who has expertise in the use of large datasets and econometric analysis to measure the causal impacts of factors that shape peoples’ life trajectories. His work is focussed on understanding the impediments and enablers of success in education, employment, and business among disadvantaged Australians. His main responsibilities as part of the project are to lead the drafting of academic papers and translational material and assisting Julie in the management of the project, including in supervision of junior staff and in providing expertise in data development, data governance and secure data storage.

  • Emeritus Professor Lyndall Ryan AM, FAHA, Chief Investigator (University of Newcastle)

    Lyndall is the lead CI in the ground breaking digital map project,  A historian with 40 years’ experience of teaching in 3 Australian universities, she is the author of 3 books on the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, co-editor of 2 books on frontier massacres and since 2006, author of more than 5 peer reviewed journal articles and 6 book chapters on the subject.  As Australia’s leading expert on frontier massacres, her engagement with the current project, enables her to open out new understandings of frontier massacre in relation to climate, population, seasonal change and terrain.

  • Dr Chaminda Rajeev Samarage, Chief Investigator (University of Melbourne)

    Rajeev is an engineer and data scientist with specialist expertise in data analytics, data visualisation and data management. He is the Data & Analytics Program Coordinator at the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne. Rajeev provides project oversight of the Melbourne Institute Data Lab, a secure PROTECTED-level data enclave that enables researchers to access sensitive administrative and survey data from government and other proprietary sources. On this project, Rajeev brings his experience in data production, data management and data visualisation to enhance the production and use of the FWD data asset in multiple stages of the data pipeline.

  • Dr Charlotte Zhan, Contributor

    Haikun (Charlotte) Zhan is a lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Auckland. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Melbourne in 2022. Her research aims at understanding various developmental issues through the lens of political economy. Her recent work focuses on two topics: (1) the interaction between state and civil society and the long-run consequences of government policies; and (2) the causes and consequences of civil conflicts.

Past Team Members

  • Dr Katherine Hunt, Contributor (Griffith University)

    Dr Katherine Hunt is an interdisciplinary researcher with a passion for financial inclusion and consumer protection. Dr Hunt has undertaken field research in Italy, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Panama, Bhutan and Peru. Dr Hunt combines experience in Psychology, Commerce, Financial Planning, and a PhD in Law and Economics to consider the issues that face our society from a holistic and strategic perspective.

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