From the Director

Professor Ruth Wallace

Professor Ruth Wallace

Across the globe academic institutes are engaging in knowledge innovation strategies to engage in strategic partnerships that deliver scientific and policy/practice impact. Northern Institute has responded to this trend through a strategy that articulates its competitive advantage as a regional northern research centre that engages in partnerships across the world to inform the science and practice of policy development.

The focus of NI research strategy has been on the demographic, regional development, Indigenous knowledges and collaborative governance issues and opportunities facing Northern Australia.

This has created the research credentials and signature to build a comparative research agenda with other neighbouring and remote regions. Through alliances with Indonesian partners, northern social and public policy research has been re-imagined to re-scope Northern Development as part of the Arafura region. Active research hubs have built comparative research skills and analysis across the continent and to other remote regions overseas. Our staff have been supported to bolster their science skills and entrepreneurship so they can meet the challenge of growing research investment interest.


The Northern Institute has now matured to a point where it is ready to create a large program of research that can deliver to national and international research public policy questions which is supported by strategic research investment

There are a number of challenges we need to address to achieve this goal;

  1. Going after the ‘right’ research investment that is strategic and long-term,
  2. Maintaining and building staff’s science credentials and entrepreneurship skills (built through internal collaboration efforts within and between research programs of the NI).
  3. Continuing to partner for impact – through co- investment arrangements that create competitive teams that can develop and translate the right mix of science of the research investors’ needs.

Northern Institute prides itself as a modern and inclusive place of learning. Its close knit community of researchers, students and staff is renowned for its pursuit of excellence; for its great culture of collaboration; and, importantly, for encouraging new and innovative ways of thinking.

The Institute is now recognised as a regional leader in social and public policy analysis, providing research and data that influences and supports policy development. We host research and policy symposia, share research findings in research papers, policy briefs and through social media, and our courses offer the opportunity to learn more about public policy as it operates in the region.

While other policy research centres may focus on a main thematic or methodology, the Institute is a knowledge hub, working across sociology and disciplines, facilitating linking research to policy and industry groups that utilise that knowledge, ensuring research leaves a legacy locally and mobilising activities that understand the key elements of shared futures and improve research impact.  This strength is based in trust that NI understands others’ issues, is independent, sensitive to the challenges of making change happen, committed to providing evidence that informs decision making.

Our work continues to gain traction and demonstrates impact- both nationally and internationally.

The Institute’s increasing focus on sustainable regional development through economic and social engagement can be seen, not only in northern Australia, eastern Indonesia and Timor Leste – but also in many northern European countries. Our teams are recognised as world leaders in their fields, including demographic modelling for peripheries, realist evaluation and policy analysis, Indigenous epistemologies and policy analysis, and modelling of remote economies. Collaborations and synergies also exist across South East Asia and other places facing similar challenges such as regional areas of the Arctic.

Professor Ruth Wallace
T. +61 8 8946 7468 | F. +61 8 8946 7175 | 
Darwin, Northern Territory, 0909