Griffith University Indigenous Studies lecturer Dr Harry Van Issum is the recipient of the inaugural John Mulvaney Fellowship, awarded to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early career researcher to undertake research or fieldwork in Australia or overseas.

Dr Van Issum will travel to the UK to assist in the repatriation of Woppaburra skeletal remains presently held in the collections of the Natural History Museum in London.

A Woppaburra man from the Darambal Language Group of Central Queensland, Dr Van Issum is a senior lecturer in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science.

Awarded by the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Fellowship honours the outstanding contribution to Humanities scholarship, the Academy and the cultural life of the nation of one of the academy’s longest-serving Fellows John Mulvaney AO CMG FBA FSA FRAI FAHA.

Professor Mulvaney was a world-leader in the field of hunter-gatherer archaeology and a passionate defender of Australia’s heritage and the rights of its indigenous peoples.

“This Fellowship will be tied to the literal return of our ancestors’ skeletal remains, along with strong community-based consultation,’’ Dr Van Issum said.

“I’m sure that the late Professor Mulvaney as a historian and conservationist would support such a project to detail the history of our repatriation narrative but also for our cultural heritage and spiritual restoration.”

Dr Van Issum has also been involved in many grassroots organisations such as the Woppaburra Land Trust, the Woppaburra Traditional Use of Marine Resources Committee (constituted through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), Bayside Community Justice Group (Murri Court) and Cooee Indigenous Family and Community Education Centre.

Map dated 1864.

Map dated 1864.

Map dated 1864.

“We are proud to offer the John Mulvaney Fellowship as part of our annual grants and awards program” said President of the Academy, Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA.

“It is an important step in our wider strategy to improve the representation of, and support for, Indigenous scholars in the life of the Academy. We are also delighted to be able to honour Professor Mulvaney’s deep commitment to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and cultures.”