MBBS (Melbourne); PhD (La Trobe); FASSA
Health Sciences

Most of my academic career has entailed work that has crossed disciplines and has often been situated at the intersection of academic work and public policy. At the broadest I would characterise myself as a social scientist with a substantive focus on health and Indigenous studies. My field of practice has been Indigenous policy with a strong thread of Indigenous health and education policy.

The critical investigation of Aboriginal identity and representation was an early focus for my work. I was influenced broadly by postcolonial studies and the emerging Indigenous critique of academic disciplines such as history and anthropology. Although my scholarship subsequently took other directions this work continues to influence my thinking and applied work in policy practice. More generally it provided a launching point for a significant arc in my career: fostering and leading the development of systems and institutional platforms for Aboriginal academic practice.

As the Director for the Centre for Health and Society from 2001-2009 I had the privilege of leading a multi-disciplinary team that included historians, sociologists, anthropologists, ethicists, epidemiologists and political scientists. The CHS was home to Onemda – an Indigenous led academic program which framed its academic work within an Aboriginal community development strategy.

Over this period I played a leadership role in the various iterations of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health. I was initially an independent board member at its inception in 1997. I became it Research Director from 2003-2012. This CRC provided the catalyst for the establishment of the Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in 2010.

My research has charted the emergence of Aboriginal health policy within the systems and institutions that developed following the 1967 referendum. There have been a number of themes in this work including intergovernmental relations, health financing, primary health care, workforce development and research and data systems. I have endeavoured to situate the development of this policy system within the broader changing relationship between Indigenous Australians and the state.

Over the last few decades there is a growing interest globally in the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Within this context, I have collaborated with colleagues internationally in charting the patterns of social inequality of Indigenous peoples across the globe and the emergence of the response of global institutions such as the United Nations.

Throughout my career I have contributed to the development of Indigenous policy at a state and national level. I was chair of the National Indigenous Health Equality Council from 2008-2011 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality council from 2011-2013. I was co-chair for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Council from 2012 to 2015.

In my current role as Deputy Secretary (Indigenous) in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet I play a leadership role in Indigenous policy and delivery of Australian Government programs and the refresh of the Council of Australian Governments Closing the Gaps reform agenda.

  1. Anderson I, Lyons JG, Luke JN, Reich HS (forthcoming). “Health Determinants and Educational Outcomes for Indigenous Children” in M. Walter, K. Martin & G Bodkin-Andrews (eds), Growing up Strong Children: Indigenous Perspectives on the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Anderson I (2016). “Indigenous Australians and Higher Education: The Contemporary Policy Agenda” in A. Harvey, C. Burnheim & M Brett (eds), Student Equity in Australian Higher Education: Twenty-five years of A Fair Chance for All, Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. Pages 221-239.
  3. Anderson, I., Robson, B., Connolly, M., Al-Yaman, F., Bjertness, E., et al. (2016) ‘Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Health: The Lancet-Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration’ The Lancet. 388(10040): 131-157
  4. Anderson I, Crengle S, Kamaka M, Chen TH, Palafox N & Jackson-Pulver L (2006), ‘Indigenous health in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific’, Lancet, 367: 1775–85.
  5. McCalman J, Smith L, Anderson I, Morley R & Mishra G (2009), ‘Colonialism and the health transition: Aboriginal Australians and poor whites compared, Victoria, 1850–1985’, The History of the Family, 14: 253–265.
  6. Anderson I (2003), ‘Black bit, white bit’, in M Grossman (ed.), Blacklines: An Anthology of Critical Writing by Indigenous Australians (pp. 43–51), Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic
  7. Anderson I (1994), ‘Re-claiming Tru-Ger-Nan-Ner: De-colonising the symbol’, in P Van Toorn & D English (eds), Speaking Positions; Aboriginality, Gender and Ethnicity in Australian Cultural Studies (republished from Art Monthly, December–February) (pp. 31–42), Department of Humanities, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne.