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CDU wins $660,000 in tough battle for research funds

By Patrick Nelson

ARC Deputy Head Professor Brian Yates, CDU Northern Institute’s Dr Linda Ford and Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne ARC Deputy Head Professor Brian Yates, CDU Northern Institute’s Dr Linda Ford and Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne

Charles Darwin University will receive $660,000 in the fiercely competitive field of research grants, following an announcement of Australian Research Council funding by Education Minister Christopher Pyne recently.

The $661,768 allocation will be shared among researchers in the Northern Institute, the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), and the Centre of Full Employment and Equity, for projects to begin next year.

Among the grant winners was Northern Institute Senior Research Fellow Dr Payi Linda Ford, who will receive $99,537 to lead a project to preserve, interpret and disseminate recordings of Indigenous ceremonial performances of the Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu and Marrithiyel language groups in the Wagait-Daly region.

Dr Ford, who was in Adelaide for the announcement, said the grant would allow for a significant contribution to the body of Indigenous knowledge and culture, as well as to Australian society.

“The aim is to preserve and extend the power of this ceremony for the benefit of future generations of Indigenous people and Australia,” Dr Ford said.

“It will impact on public Indigenous policy, particularly in the environment, health and education sectors.

“Overall, it will improve the lifestyle, and in particular the mental and spiritual wellbeing, of Indigenous Australians in remote parts of the Northern Territory.”

Another of the grant winners was RIEL’s Remote Sensing and Spatial Sciences senior lecturer Dr Karen Joyce, who will receive $183,413 to develop an unmanned airborne system that will provide detailed imagery of difficult or inaccessible survey sites.

The state-of-the-art UAS will have the capacity to be used for environmental monitoring, disaster management and the recording of significant Indigenous cultural sites.

The third grant winner was Economics Professor Bill Mitchell, who receives $378,818 to lead a project that explores the changing patterns of economic performance in regional Australia.

This project will examine changes in the context of two significant developments - shifts in world trade and commodity prices that spawned enormous mining growth, and the financial crisis, which ended the credit boom, leaving east coast economies to struggle.

The CDU projects were among 941 research initiatives nationwide to receive $354 million in funding for 2015 under the ARC major grants announcement.