The NUAUS Aboriginal Committee: Allyship and Indigenous Engagement led by students at The University of Melbourne


This project examines the work of student organisations in support of Indigenous causes in the decades after the Second World War. It asks how this extracurricular activity has shaped generations of students.

Students at The University of Melbourne established and then led the National Union of Australian University Students (NUAUS) ‘Aboriginal Committee’ from the early 1950s. Initially formed to provide scholarships for Indigenous students, the committee extended to take up other national Indigenous causes, including the Warburton Ranges controversy, the land rights campaign of the Gurindji people, and the campaign in support of the 1967 referendum for Indigenous recognition. Later generations applied this energy to the organisation of annual ‘Aboriginal Weeks’ at the university from 1972.


This project aims to analyse student engagement to understand students’ past connection with Indigenous peoples and develop a case study for understanding community-connected extracurricular activity generally. It will analyse this activity using the framework of ‘allyship’ theory to critique and understand the reciprocal nature of this activity between university students and Indigenous activists.


  • Dr James Waghorne, The University of Melbourne


Melbourne Graduate School of Education Researcher Development Scheme


Proposed outcomes include a critical framework, journal article and book chapter.

More information

Dr James Waghorne, Melbourne CSHE, The University of Melbourne