BA (Social Welfare) (CSU); BSW (Hons), PhD (Sociology) (UTAS); FASSA


The positioning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, socio-economically, politically and culturally within the nation state is the centre of my intellectual curiosity. Over my career my scholarship has sought to explicate the discourses and practicalities of Indigenous lived reality and the broader social and cultural milieu that shape these. I have developed empirical, theoretical and methodological alternatives that question the status quo of how Indigenous related social science research is ‘done’ with a strong focus on the statistical narratives that underpin theoretical assumptions of Indigenous deficit.

Over the last 15 years, through a series of articles and research chapters, I have critiqued accepted theoretical frames for explaining Indigenous disadvantage, drawing attention to the profound links between Indigenous disparities and racially inscribed relations of power, developing new theoretical frames for the persistence of Indigenous inequality in concert with extensive empirical work. Using survey data, collected specifically and from largescale national longitudinal data, my work has quantitatively examined aspects of Indigenous social life. This research has pinpointed, across locations, the social and cultural disjuncture between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians embodied realities. I have also led the broader engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars with quantitative research resulting most recently with the edited collection Indigenous Children growing up Strong (2017 Palgrave McMillan: Walter, Martin & Bodkin-Andrews eds.) containing 14 Indigenous first authored, chapters exploring Indigenous family life.

Simultaneously, my scholarship has engaged with the broader concepts of Indigenous statistics and Indigenous quantitative methodologies. From 2004 my work has repeatedly articulated the need for an Indigenous informed statistical literacy and a paradigm of Indigenous quantitative methodology. Within this I have frequently focused on how official statistics and administrative data pejoratively position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the very problem they profess to be describing. In 2013 I developed this work into a coherent thesis for my book Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative Research Methodology (Routledge: co-authored with C. Andersen). This remains the only book, globally, to address Indigenous quantitative methodologies and has found a wide audience, especially in the United States.

Most recently my work moves beyond critique to detailing how Indigenous statistics might be reinvented, publishing, often with international Indigenous co-authors, a range of articles on how national statistics agencies can improve Indigenous data for their own usage and to better meet Indigenous data needs. I also contribute to national and international policy debates through my leadership in the rapidly growing field of Indigenous Data Sovereignty. I am a founding member of the Miaim nayri Wingara Australian Indigenous Data Sovereignty Collective and the Australian Co-Chair on the Research Data Alliance (RDA) International Indigenous Data Sovereignty Interest Group.

  • Research Advisory Committee, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) 2017-2019
  • Steering Group member, Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), FaHCSIA, Canberra (2004 onwards)
  • Board Member RC05 Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnicity, International Sociological Association
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Sociology
  • Longitudinal National Longitudinal Studies Advisory Group, FaHCSIA, (2010 -2014)
  • Secretary, Native American & Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) 2009-2012 (elected)
  • Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council (IHEAC) DEST, Canberra (2005-2009)
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council: Award for Teaching Excellence – Indigenous Education 2010
  • Chair, Indigenous Evaluation Committee, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – current
  • Chair, Indigenous Panel, Engagement and Impact 2018, Australian Research Council

Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship 2018

  1. Walter, M. & Andersen, C. (2013) Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative Methodology, Routledge. New York. Creek.
  2. Walter, M. K.L. Martin and G. Bodkin-Andrews (Eds) (2017) Indigenous Children Growing Up Strong: A Longitudinal Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families. Palgrave McMillan: London.
  3. Walter, M. (2016) ‘Data Politics and Indigenous representation in Australian statistics’ in T. Kukutai and J. Taylor (eds) Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Towards an Agenda. CAEPR Research Monograph, 2016/34. ANU Press. Canberra.
  4. Walter, M. & Butler, K. (2013) ‘Teaching Race to Teach Indigeneity’ Journal of Sociology. Vol 49(4) 397-410.
  5. Walter, M. (2015) ‘The Vexed Relationship Between Social Mobility and Social Capital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’. Australian Journal of Social Issues: 69-88.