Four teams of social scientists have been selected to receive funding for the 2024 Australia-France Collaborative Research Program. The teams will share in $20,000 funding provided by the Embassy of France in Australia and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. The program aims to foster interdisciplinary research endeavours that address critical societal challenges and strengthen the bonds between Australia, France and the Pacific region. 

The selected projects cover a diverse range of topics, underscoring the breadth and depth of social science collaboration between institutions in France and Australia. France’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Pierre-André Imbert highlighted the importance and mutual benefits of the research partnerships: 

‘Once again, the projects we support this year showcase the strong relationship between France and Australia across the Pacific. From the study of indigenous languages and their importance in the making of our identities to the role and impact of humans in their environment in the region, there are many areas where our cooperation brings significant insights, and to which we are committed to providing ongoing support.’  

With projects spanning maritime history and ecosystem adaptability, to impacts of ore mining and Indigenous language and learning resources, the 2024 Australia-France Collaborative Research Program reflects the enduring partnership between the two countries and a shared dedication to advancing knowledge and addressing global challenges. 

The four successful projects are: 

Exploring the Maritime History of Vanuatu: An Investigation into Coastal Ecosystems and Human Adaptation  

Project Lead: Dr Clara Boulanger, Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle (France)/ National Museum of Ethnolopy (Japan) 

Collaboration between Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia and Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. 

The relationship between humans and nature is critical when examining populations in specific environments, such as tropical, island, and coastal areas, requiring more demanding adaptations.  

This project will undertake an archaeozoological analysis to understand the evolution and exploitation of coastal systems in Vanuatu over the long term and offer original solutions. This project will also evaluate the long-term question of subsistence economies and consumption choices. 

Preventing adverse environmental and social outcomes in expanded ore mining:  Designing and implementing sustainable value chains in Nickel extraction and refining. 

Project Lead: Dr Oluseye Richard Oloruntoba, Curtin University, Western Australia 

Collaboration between Curtin University, Kedge Business School, University of Toulouse, CNRT (New Caledonia) 

This project investigates and analyses sustainable value chains in Nickel production. 

Nickel is crucial for the global transition to renewable energy sources as battery-grade Nickel contributes to the development and scalability of the electric vehicle (EV) industry. 

This project aims to investigate solutions for mitigating adverse environmental and social impacts of a new enrichment process that requires installing new facilities, focusing on engaging local communities.  

Teaching minority and indigenous languages: a cross perspective between Australia and New Caledonia. 

Project Lead: Dr Coraline Pradeau, Université de Rouen Normandie 

Collaboration between Université de Rouen Normandie, Australian National University and University of New Caledonia 

The promotion of indigenous and minority languages is a hot topic, especially in the Oceanic linguistic ecosystem, which contains almost one-third of the world’s languages, most of which are vulnerable. 

In this collective and interdisciplinary project, the research team will combine their field experiences about minority and indigenous language teaching, in Australia and New Caledonia to examine policy positions and recommend revitalisation initiatives.  

T is for Treu, but how do you pronounce that? Integrating pronunciation respellings into multimodal language learning resources. 

Project Lead: Dr Pauline Welby, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Laboratoire Parole et Langage

Collaboration between Aix Marseille Université, Université de Paris 3, Université de la Nouvelle Calédonie, University of South Australia and Flinders University, Australia 

This project aims to help teachers and heritage learners of the Drehu language, spoken by the indigenous Kanak people of New Caledonia, to correctly pronounce words by addressing conflicts between written and spoken language. Specifically, the project focuses on the word ‘treu’, which means ‘moon’ in Drehu. The challenge is that the pronunciation of ‘treu’ may be influenced by the French language, leading to incorrect pronunciation. 

To overcome this challenge, the research team will develop tools and resources that provide pronunciation respellings based on French orthography. These tools will be integrated into multimedia texts to assist learners in understanding and pronouncing Drehu words accurately. The project builds on previous research efforts and aims to preserve and promote the linguistic diversity of the region.