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Indigenous-led Social Change Capacity Grows With Announcement Of Fifth Atlantic Fellows For Social Equity Cohort

As the global community faces serious challenges including climate change, ecological collapse, and increasing geo-political and economic uncertainties, the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program is an important avenue to mobilise Indigenous knowledges and experiences towards finding solutions.

18 Fellows from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia have been selected for the fifth cohort of Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) since the Indigenous-led social equity program was established at the University of Melbourne in 2016 in partnership with University of Auckland.

The new Fellows come from a range of backgrounds and sectors, including community, healthcare, education, finance, and the arts. These passionate and intelligent social change makers join the program with a track record of meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities in the Pacific region.

The AFSE program focuses on Indigenous agency, self-determination, and capacity building, recognising the resilience and depth of Indigenous knowledges, cultures, and histories. The 2023 cohort includes 12 Fellows in Australia and 6 in Aotearoa and is unique for offering opportunities for intercultural exchange between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori and Pacific Island First nations people.

Fellows will soon commence their foundation year, where they develop a social change project and complete a postgraduate qualification in Social Change Leadership through the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

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After graduation, they join a lifelong, global network of Atlantic Fellows that share a common purpose: to advance fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies. AFSE is one of seven Atlantic Fellows programs internationally, each of which focuses on improving equity in a particular area.

Dr Melinda Webber, (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) Deputy Dean and Professor – Te Puna Wānanga/School of Māori and Indigenous Education with PVC Māori associate professor Te Kawehau Hoskins say

“The University of Auckland directors, Professor Melinda Webber and PVC Māori Te Kawehau Hoskins, are excited about working alongside this new cohort of Māori and Pacific social change-makers from Aotearoa. They are already effecting change in their communities, and the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity programme will enable them to extend their networks and amplify their important work.”


Professor Elizabeth McKinley, AFSE Executive Director and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, said the program builds capacity for Indigenous-led social change and leadership, and takes that leadership to the global community.

“The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity are changing the narrative about Indigenous peoples, not just in Australia and Aotearoa, but right across the globe. We deserve a place at the decision-making table for our peoples and future. Many have had little say in affairs that affect us, yet we are best placed to make the changes needed for our communities after the disruption of colonisation.”

Quotes from the 2023 Fellows

“My dream is to live in a world where we privilege Indigenous ways of thinking, knowing, and doing. I'm seeking to build Indigenous capacity and utilise platforms to elevate Indigenous art and culture. In doing this, I want to recentre our place in the world and make systemic change.”

Jade Hadfield | Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara (Aotearoa/ New Zealand)

“The key to our healing lies within our own cultural practices and methodologies led and designed by us for us. Self-determination in the ways in which we heal from the past and ongoing traumas of colonisation is vital in addressing our health inequities our way.”

Destiny Powell | Gangulu woman from the Duaringa region of Central West Queensland

More about the 2023 AFSE Fellows

About the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity

The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) is an inter-cultural life-changing fellowship for Indigenous social equity in Australia, Aotearoa, and the Pacific region. We are working for Indigenousled social change to build on the collective strength, resilience, knowledge, and understandings Indigenous people bring to the world.

AFSE was established at the University of Melbourne in 2016 with funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies – a foundation established by philanthropist Chuck Feeney. It is one of seven global, interconnected Atlantic Fellows programs across the world.

As part of the AFSE program, Fellows from Australia and Aotearoa complete a foundation year where they develop a social change project and complete a postgraduate qualification. Upon completion, Fellows graduate into the lifelong global Atlantic Fellows community. Over the course of 20 years, the program will drive Indigenous social equity by maximising the impact of hundreds of social change makers and connecting them with thousands of peers around the world.

Find out more https://www.socialequity.atlanticfellows.org/

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