Australian Catholic University’s first Indigenous PhD staff scholarship holder, Dr Bindi Bennett, has graduated at a ceremony in Sydney.

Dr Bennett, one of five recipients of ACU’s Indigenous Staff Research Scholarships, completed her thesis, Developing Identity as a Light-skinned Aboriginal Person with Little or no Community and/or Kinship Ties.

 Her work has been applauded as making a significant contribution to scholarship in the area of contemporary Aboriginal identity.

Her thesis provides an understanding of identity for light-skinned Aboriginal people who, for a variety of reasons, may need a place to start their identity journey as well as tools to undertake this task.

The thesis also contributes to the discussion of identity for Aboriginal people from an Aboriginal perspective, giving privilege to the participant voices.

One of the key outcomes of the research has been the development of a map for Aboriginal people who want to find their identity. The map was developed in two ways: An Aboriginal map (flower) and a non-Indigenous map. These maps provide a guide that Aboriginal people can use in their identity journey.

“Identity and knowing who you are is so important in the Aboriginal community,” Dr Bennett said.

Professor Morag Macarthur supervised Dr Bennett’s research and was among those who attended her recent graduation in Sydney.

In 2010 ACU became one of the first universities in Australia to introduce Indigenous staff research scholarships to facilitate valued Indigenous contribution to learning, research and community engagement.