The NI team has expertise in human geography, economic analysis, Indigenous knowledge systems and policy analysis. It applies these strengths to significant issues that affect the future of the region.



Since its formation in 2010, NI has become a regional leader in high quality social and public policy research. This research aims to understand regional development and provide strong evidence for policy development, capacity building and responding to the needs of governments and communities across the region. In doing so, the research recognises the lives, geography and history of these places and the importance of contextualising research for the region.

Our work is underpinned by:

  • The application of interdisciplinary techniques to help secure the healthy futures of people living, working and visiting our northern regions. We aspire to excellence and undertake our work in sensitive and engaging ways.
  • Connecting skilled researchers with practitioners and communities to generate new knowledge, and to define, refine and evaluate policy. We source, apply and report on data to address critical and sensitive issues that arise from population change for society, for our communities and for our partners. The aim is to bring about positive and sustainable change in northern contexts.
  • A unique approach to our research is based on local engagement and with an understanding of past and future challenges faced by the governments at all levels in the north and beyond. This approach is supported by having research staff embedded in regional and remote areas of the region. We aim to create intellectual spaces for context and meaning to shape research processes and outcomes in order to benefit our clients, communities and regions
  • Respect and integrity: we work with Indigenous peoples and their organisations on research, which helps them to articulate and promote their aspirations and concerns for their families, communities, cultures and lands to the wider world. In short, we want to ensure their determinations, dreams and hopes for the future shape policy and change.

NI encompasses four major research themes, which showcase the partnerships and collaborations in the transnational arena. The four themes are:

Through innovation and excellence in key research areas, our researchers jointly consult with stakeholders to clarify their processes and desired outcomes. Collaboration is at the heart of NI’s research philosophy. The themes, and their associated team of researchers, are significant in influencing policy agendas, occupying a policy environment that focuses on shared responsibility and accountable impact.

Through these four themes, NI harnesses a diverse skill base by bringing together research groups around issues of impact.



As a place that promotes research excellence, the Northern Institute provides an independent voice based on solid evidence through comprehensive research. Our researchers are responsive to stakeholders, leading innovative thinking and crucial debate in topics of importance to its constituents. Research teams led by internationally and nationally recognised human geographers operate to develop research in the areas of demography and growth planning, transdisciplinary methodologies and knowledge systems, social inclusion and community engagement, remote workforce development and pathways with training and social sustainability across Northern and Central Australia and the nations to our north.

Our research is concerned with not only understanding what is, but also what could be. The Northern Institute’s researchers work in partnership with internal and external stakeholders to provide a sound basis for research projects and dissemination of the outcomes. Visiting Fellows assist in contributing to research and public engagement by focusing attention on complex issues in the region. The Institute’s teams collaborate with local, national and international universities, industry, not for profit agencies, communities and leading thinkers to seed and carry out successful research activities.