The Rumbalara Football Netball Club community has inspired three women to complete doctorate degrees.

Club members Karyn Ferguson, Raelene Nixon and Tui Crumpen are undertaking research towards PhDs on issues of importance to the local indigenous community. Karyn is building a database with the goal of creating an accurate picture of maternal and infant outcomes.

“I’m linking Aboriginal maternal, infant and child data across Shepparton and Echuca across all different health services,” Karyn said. “I think it’s important to know what the health issues are for our people and that we are accurately measuring our outcomes so we have a good idea of what is happening with women and children.

“Eventually what I want to do with my research and my work is to contribute back to the community, and the club is just full of our community members of all ages.” Raelene is investigating how to reposition the social, cultural and economic value of indigenous people and get from the concept of prosperity of country to parity, reciprocity and respect.

Her research includes how indigenous people can be a part of the economic growth and contribute to and participate in society as equals. “My minor thesis for my Masters was about the experience of young Aboriginal men in education and in sport,” Raelene said. “I interviewed current and past players of Rumbalara fourths about what it was like for them going to school and playing football.”

“My PhD is a follow-on from this and is about how we can make these experiences better for our children.” Tui is looking at discourses in indigenous policy. “I’m inspired all the time by what goes on here and what I see here,” Tui said. “When you’re looking at indigenous policies we’re all affected and we have been since colonisation, so that continues and it’s looking at how we can do that better and write policy better for indigenous people.”

“It’s about sharing our way of thinking and putting other knowledge out there.”

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