NI News

NI 10 year anniversary

We're celebrating a decade of People. Policy. Place!

08 Ocotober 2020

In October 2010 Chief Minister Paul Henderson launched the Northern Institute with a vision for our institution, through a partnership between Charles Darwin University and the Northern Territory Government, to undertake high quality analysis in social and public policy research.10 years on AND with over $35M of successful grants under our belt, NI has transformed into the “go to” institution of government, NGO’s, industry and communities for independent and comprehensive social and public policy research in Northern Australia.

The key to our success? The strategic and innovative vision of Director, Professor Ruth Wallace, our outstanding staff of nationally and internationally renowned research professionals and our invaluable network of research partners and collaborators. We acknowledge the achievements of an organisation are the results of the combined efforts of every individual. Thank you to all our friends, colleagues and supporters for being part of our first 10 years.

Happy anniversary, Northern Institute!

The NI 10th Anniversary @9NewsDarwin story from Monday, 12 October night can be viewed here:

HDR Students graduation ceremony

HDR students rewarded at graduates celebration

05 October 2020

The achievements of Charles Darwin University’s Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students were acknowledged at a HDR Graduates Celebration held on 23 September. 

Held in the Mal Nairn Auditorium, the celebration was led by Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski.  

Approximately 12 graduates and their families attended the celebration in person, while some of the 25 graduates who were unable to attend the event tuned in via Zoom. Image Gallery

Fiona Shelly

Survey explores Territory migration since COVID-19

05 october 2020

Charles Darwin University researchers have developed a survey to provide a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact on population migration patterns into and out of the Northern Territory. “The Territory and Me - COVID Update” will build on previous research to investigate how the Territory is perceived as a place to live, a future migration destination or a transition place to another location. CDU Northern Institute demographer Fiona Shalley said researchers were interested in why people were in the Territory now.

“It’s about our population, particularly anyone who has newly arrived – and whether they think the Territory is a good place to be during the current uncertain times,” Ms Shalley said.

“And everyone is a potential Territorian, even if it’s for a short time. So we encourage people to complete the survey and then share it with their family and friends.” The research will build on a previous successful survey completed by CDU researchers last year. Full CDU Enews Story

The survey is open to everyone 18 years and over, regardless of whether they are a current Territorian. Visit to access the survey. All participants can opt to go into a prize draw. First prize is a $500 retail voucher and there are two supplementary vouchers valued at $100 each.

Eureka finalists

CDU researchers take places as Eureka finalists

05 October 2020

Charles Darwin University researchers are part of two teams announced as finalists in categories of the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. The Cat Ecology, Impact and Management Team led by CDU’s Professor John Woinarski in partnership with researchers from the Australian National University and the University of Sydney is a finalist in the Prize for Applied Environmental Research.

CDU-CSIRO Responsible Innovation Research Fellow Dr Jennifer Macdonald is part of the Kakadu NESP team working to solve complex environmental management problems in Kakadu National Park who are finalists in the Prize for STEM Inclusion. The Indigenous-led science to monitor Kakadu project is unique, mixing responsible artificial intelligence and modern science with traditional knowledge to care for animal species and habitats. The Northern Institute researcher said the project aims to ensure that Indigenous knowledge is protected appropriately. Read more....

(HDR) students creative art calsses

Wellbeing at the centre of student-run creative art classes

05 October 2020

Providing students with an outlet to express themselves creatively is the aim of a wellness workshop established by two Charles Darwin University Higher Degree Research (HDR) students. An initiative of PhD students Eva San and Varunika Ruwanpura, the HDR Student Wellbeing Workshop is run monthly and designed for students to take part in art and free writing sessions to complement their graduate studies.

Eva said the “therapeutic art-making” workshop allowed students to interact with each other and express their creativity.  “It’s a good place for students to connect and create a supportive community,” she said. Read the full story here

To become involved in the next student wellbeing workshop, HDR students can contact Eva San ( or Varunika Ruwanpura (


New Demography Book


23 September 2020

A HUGE congratulations to NI researcher and PhD student Dr David Karácsonyi, who has led six years of hard work, with A/Pro Andrew Taylor for the publication (overnight) of the book 'The Demography of Disasters: Impacts for Population and Place' (Springer).

This manuscript originates from a long-standing collaboration with the Geographical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; as well as the University of Iceland, with whom the other editor and long-time collaborator Deanne Bird is associated.

This open access book provides worldwide examples demonstrating the importance of the interplay between demography and disasters in regions and spatially. It marks an advance in practical and theoretical insights for understanding the role of demography in planning for and mitigating impacts from disasters in developed nations. This is an OPEN ACCESS book and available to download for FREE via Springer at this link:

Research reveals key drivers for migration south

Dr Kerstin Zander

11 September 2020

With the build-up on the way, new research has found that along with the tyranny of distance and high living costs, heat is one of the key drivers moving people from the tropics to Australia’s cooler southern states. The research published in Sustainable Cities and Society is a joint study by Charles Darwin University academics Professor Stephen Garnett and Associate Professor Kerstin Zander, and links climate change to migration.

“Cities in tropical regions, already hot, will experience more days of extreme heat as the climate changes,” said Dr Zander from CDU’s Northern Institute. Link to the Newsroom story

NT New Cabinet

NT Government's new Cabinet sworn in amid concern over Michael Gunner's appointment as Treasurer

08 September 2020

Michael Gunner has officially swung open the door to his new Cabinet, telling his newly sworn-in leadership team it must steer the NT through the coronavirus pandemic. And Mr Gunner said one significant change in the new Cabinet — his decision to hand himself the role of Treasurer — would keep the same issues in the spotlight in his second term.

A political economist has labelled Mr Gunner's decision to appoint himself as Treasurer "highly unusual" and voiced concern it could reduce accountability in the new Cabinet.

Rolf Gerritsen, a professorial research fellow at Northern Institute (Charles Darwin University), said the appointment was politically risky given Mr Gunner's existing workload. But he said his greater concern was that it could remove significant checks and balances on government spending."The treasurer, in theory, is the person at the Cabinet table who says, 'Hang on a sec, how much is that going to cost?'" Mr Gerritsen told ABC Radio Darwin. Read the full article here

 Leonie Norrington, Cathy Bow, Stephen Dhamarrandji and Michaela Spencer

High praise for Northern Institute researchers

07 September 2020

A team of researchers at Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute has won international recognition for excellence in the field of science and technology studies (STS) at a virtual conference hosted in Prague.

The team, comprising Michaela Spencer, Cathy Bow, Yasunori Hayashi, Leonie Norrington, Simon West and Jennifer MacDonald, won the international Society for Social Studies of Science “Making and Doing Award” for a digital presentation of their Ground Up research work.

Their inquiry showcased research on re-presentation, evaluation, identity, languageness, credentials and evidence, from their ongoing work with Indigenous co-researchers and collaborators.

The biennial award celebrates scholarly practices that express science, technology and scientific knowledge that extend beyond the academic paper or book. CDU Enews Story

Professor Rolf Gerritsen presents Faye Strachan

Centralian to be awarded honorary degree

07 September 2020

Charles Darwin University will honour former long-term central Australian staffer Peter Strachan with a posthumous honorary Master of Arts degree.

“Strachy” as he was known by friends and colleagues, was the Alice Springs campus based Remote Engagement Liaison Officer who in his own time had almost completed a research project into Indigenous employment in central Australia, when he died in 2019.

Supervisor, Northern Institute Professor Rolf Gerritsen said that Indigenous employment had been an issue close to Strachy’s heart for 40 years. “It bothered Strachy that non-government organisations would frequently recruit non-Aboriginal people with high-level formal qualifications in preference to quality local Aboriginal people with good knowledge, skills and networks but fewer formal qualifications,” Professor Gerritsen said. Read more....

Dr Kerstin Zander

The importance of climate to emigration intentions from a tropical city in Australia

04 September 2020

NI's Dr Kerstin Zander with RIEL's Professor Stephen Garnett have just published a new research paper that shows (from a local Darwin mail survey) that HEAT is the major driver of people migrating down south. Also that Darwin (and other cities) need to adopt climate smart policies to help their inhabitants to cope with a hotter environment in order to keep their populations. Full publication HERE.

Dr Anne Lowell and Dr Elaine Läwurrpa Maypilama

Research grant to support Indigenous early education

1 September 2020

A project led by Charles Darwin University that aims to build on the strong cultural foundation of young Indigenous children as they move into early education has received an Australian Government Indigenous Research Exchange grant of almost $200,000. The project “Understanding pathways to support Yolŋu children and families to achieve strong learning in two systems” is a collaboration between Indigenous communities, and educational and research partners. Associate Professor at CDU’s Northern Institute Elaine Läwurrpa Maypilama said the aim of the project was for Yolŋu (North-Eastern Arnhem Aboriginal) families, educators and researchers to work together to address community priorities. 

Principal Research Fellow  at the Northern Institute Associate Professor Anne Lowell said the project would build on extensive recent research, and consultations to facilitate more effective engagement between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to identify sustainable systems and processes for knowledge exchange and application. CDU Newsroom Story