Capacity for Indigenous-led social change grows with announcement of fifth Atlantic Scholars for Social Equity Cohort


As the global community faces serious challenges, including climate change, ecological collapse, and increasing geopolitical and economic uncertainties, the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program is an important avenue for mobilizing Indigenous knowledge and experiences. in order to find solutions.

18 Scholars from Aotearoa, New Zealand and Australia have been selected for the fifth cohort of Atlantic Scholars for Social Equity (AFSE) since the inception of the Indigenous-led Social Equity Program at the University of Melbourne in 2016 in partnership with the University of Auckland.

New scholars come from a variety of backgrounds and sectors, including community, health, education, finance, and the arts. These passionate and intelligent social changemakers join the program with a track record of significant engagement with Indigenous communities in the Pacific region.

The AFSE program focuses on Indigenous agency, self-determination and capacity building, recognizing the resilience and depth of Indigenous knowledge, cultures and histories. The 2023 cohort includes 12 fellows in Australia and 6 in Aotearoa and is unique in providing cross-cultural exchange opportunities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Maori and Pacific Islander First Nations.

Scholars will soon begin their foundation year, where they will develop a social change project and complete a postgraduate qualification in social change leadership through the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

Upon graduation, they join an ongoing global network of Atlantic Scholars who share a common goal: to advance fairer, healthier, and more inclusive societies. AFSE is one of seven Atlantic Scholars programs internationally, each of which focuses on improving equity in a particular area.

Dr Melinda Webber, (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) Vice Dean and Professor – Te Puna Wānanga / School of Maori and Indigenous Education with PVC Māori Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins says

“The Principals of the University of Auckland, Professor Melinda Webber and PVC Māori Te Kawehau Hoskins, are delighted to work alongside this new cohort of Maori and Pacific social change makers from Aotearoa. They are already making changes in their communities, and the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program will allow them to expand their networks and amplify their important work.

Professor Elizabeth McKinley, Executive Director of AFSE and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, said the program builds capacity for Indigenous-led social change and leadership, and passes that leadership on to the community. global community.

“The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity are changing the discourse on Indigenous peoples, not just in Australia and Aotearoa, but around the world. We deserve a place at the decision-making table for our people and our future. Many have had no say in the matters that concern us, but we are in the best position to bring about the necessary changes to our communities after the disruption of colonization.

2023 Fellow Quotes

“My dream is to live in a world where we value Indigenous ways of thinking, knowing and doing. I seek to build Indigenous capacity and use platforms to elevate Indigenous art and culture. In doing so, I want to refocus our place in the world and bring about systemic change.

Jade Hadfield | Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara (Aotearoa/ New Zealand)

“The key to our healing lies in our own cultural practices and methodologies directed and designed by us for us. Self-determination in how we heal from past and current traumas of colonization is key to addressing our health inequalities in our own way.

Destiny Powell | Gangulu woman from the Duaringa region of west central Queensland

Find out more about the AFSE 2023 scholarship holders

About Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity

The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) is a life-changing cross-cultural scholarship for Indigenous social equity in Australia, Aotearoa and the Pacific Rim. We work for Indigenous-led social change to harness the collective strength, resilience, knowledge and understanding that Indigenous peoples bring to the world.

AFSE was established at the University of Melbourne in 2016 with funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation created by philanthropist Chuck Feeney. It is one of seven interconnected global programs of Atlantic Scholars around the world.

Under the AFSE programme, scholars from Australia and Aotearoa complete a preparatory year during which they develop a project for social change and obtain a postgraduate qualification. Upon completion, Scholars graduate into the global Atlantic Lifetime Scholars community. For 20 years, the program will promote Indigenous social equity by maximizing the impact of hundreds of social changemakers and connecting them with thousands of peers around the world.

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