Dr Thu Pham and Professor Peter Anderson kindly agreed to talk to us about their background, research interests, and their current research projects. Prof Peter Anderson and Dr Thu joined Griffith in mid-2023, having been at QUT for many years.

Currently, Peter is the Director of the Indigenous Research Unit. He is a proud Walpiri and Murinpatha person from the Northern Territory, yet he was born in a small town in New South Wales. As he wanted to do something “different and live the big city life”, he did his tertiary studies in Melbourne. Thu is a Senior Research Assistant within the Indigenous Research unit. She is originally from Vietnam but moved to Australia over ten years ago. Although she went back to Vietnam for a while, she could not resist Australia’s charms and came back to work with Peter five years ago.

Thu and Peter explained that their role within the Indigenous unit includes supporting Indigenous HDR students and their supervisors, as well as working within the Griffith Research infrastructure. In other words, they work with the ethics and grant teams to improve administrative processes. The Indigenous research unit works with the whole university by helping them to include Indigenous content and research.

Peter’s area of research is education, particularly curriculum and pedagogy. He said he couldn’t decide what to do. Peter worked for some time at school as an art teacher! He is a classically trained painter.

Like many of us, Peter started as a research assistant in 1996. While doing his master’s, he researched, taught, and successfully juggled multiple responsibilities. He worked at five, yes, five universities at the same time, including the University of Melbourne and Latrobe University! He really understands the struggles of doing casual work and the impossibility of creating long-service leave. He acknowledges these experiences have made him more empathetic and understanding of PhD students and early career researchers. “It is tough, but I learnt a lot,” he said.

Thu did her PhD with a particular interest in leadership in higher education. Yet she has been working in Indigenous higher education and Indigenous students’ success most of her academic life.

These two accomplished academics are currently working on multiple projects. They just finished a research project and published a book chapter in the International Handbook of Educational Leadership. They also presented their book on the AARE 2023 last week! Of course, they delivered a great presentation.

Additionally, Peter is quite interested in researching Indigenous ways of leadership. He would like to do this project on a large scale by matching NAPLAN students’ information and schools. Peter explained that he is building a dashboard to track all Indigenous students across the country and look at their data. For example, how Brisbane students are doing compared to how students are doing in Cairns. He wants to map out the good initiatives that leaders are doing at their schools. Ideally, these good initiatives would be shared among schools and colleagues. So, the project is about Indigenous students’ achievement, developing initiatives, teachers’ agency, and collegiality.

Thu is supporting Peter on these projects but also leading another project. Exciting! She is conducting a project on the social determinants affecting higher education (e.g., mental health, food and housing costs). Specifically, Thu is looking at the factors influencing students’ success. She has already produced data with 2528 people! She will also produce a dashboard with her results, which will talk to Peter’s dashboard. They want to get a full picture of the Australian education system. They want to conduct this research because current systems do not talk to each other. For example, each state develops their own curriculum/ideas that do not necessarily speak to another state’s ideas. They want to know what is working and what is not working so they can build a pathway for students to get into universities. Both Peter and Thu are excited about the outcomes this project will produce!


Please check some of their recently published work here:

Thu’s latest published article

Marshall, A., Osman, K., Rogers, J., Pham, T., & Babacan, H. (2023). Connecting in the Gulf: exploring digital inclusion for Indigenous families on Mornington Island. Information, Communication & Society, 26(12), 2376-2397. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2023.2230262


Peter’s latest published article

Baeza, A., Anderson, P., & White, S. (2023). Highlighting the voice of Indigenous communities for education: Findings from a case study in rural Chile. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education52(2). https://doi.org/10.55146/ajie.v52i2.331


Their recently published book: Higher Degree by Research: Factors for Indigenous Student Success which is published in an and can be found here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-19-5178-7