default logo

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan

Senior Indigenous Researcher, Research Leader (Creative Arts)

First Peoples’ Museum Studies, Creative Arts, Interactive Media, Performance,
Curatorship, Indigenous Higher Education

  • Name: Dr Sandy O’Sullivan
    Position: Senior Indigenous Researcher, Research Leader (Creative Arts)
    Research focus: First Peoples’ Museum Studies, Creative Arts, Interactive Media, Performance, Curatorship, Indigenous Higher Education

    Phone: 0431 957 955
    Qualifications: PhD in Fine Art - Performance and Visual Arts (University of Newcastle), BCA (University of Wollongong)
    Professional memberships and associations
    • Enduring Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow (2009-ongoing)
    • Australian Research Council Research Fellow (2010-2014)
    • CIAN Commonwealth InterArts Network, Cambridge University (Invited Member)
    • International Council of Museums (Professional Member)
    • National Indigenous Studies Network (Invited Member)
    • IndigenousX (Ambassador)
    • National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Member)
    • National Museum of the American Indian (Member)
  • Sandy O’Sullivan is an Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) senior researcher and has worked as an academic for 21 years. She is a current ARC Senior Indigenous Researcher, an enduring ALTC Teaching Fellow, and holds a PhD in Fine Art and Performance, where she examined conflations of gender, sexuality and Indigeneity.


    Dr O’Sullivan has a national and international profile in the areas of First Peoples’ creative practice and representation.
    • Indigenous Higher Education
    • Creative Practice (Performance and Interactive Media)
    • Museums and Curatorial Practice
    Sandy’s current international research focuses on the representation and engagement of Indigenous Peoples in major museum spaces. Her other major project involves supporting an Indigenous focus across the national programs of the Office for Learning and Teaching, including providing advice on assessment and processes in the national programs of the OLT and to higher education institutions across the country. In this capacity Sandy is a professional member of the National Indigenous Studies Network.

    Sandy is a performance and soundtext/video artist and embeds creative practice in her research work. One of Sandy’s recent creative research works, can be found here


    • Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Award (2010)
    • Office for Learning and Teaching Australian Learning and Teaching Fellowship (2009)
    • 2004 Anna Leonowens Fellowship/AIR, Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, Canada
    • 2004 Ellen Lewin University of Iowa Women’s Studies Dept Fellowship, USA
    • 1995-6 Wollongong Regional Art Gallery Artist in Residence


    2011 – Present ARC Senior Indigenous Researcher/OLT Enduring Fellow, and Research Leader (Creative Arts) – Indigenous Research Collaborations (IRC) project to develop research capacity at Batchelor Institute, with partners: CDU, Monash, AIATSIS, ANU
    2008 – 2010 ALTC and ARC Indigenous Researcher. Undertaking programs of research and supervising research candidates. Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education
    2006 – 2008 Manager, Online Presence developing online pedagogies and presence. Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education
    2002 – 2006 Course co-ordinator, course delivery across design, performance and Indigenous Studies. University of Newcastle
    1998 – 2001 Course co-ordinator/Program Manager, Media Dubai Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai, UAE
    1993 – 1998 Lecturer across Theatre Technology, Design, Creative Arts. University of Wollongong


    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Committee
    • Research Committee
    • Academic Board (Deputy Chair)

    Reversing the Gaze: Indigenous perspectives on museums, cultural representation and the equivocal digital remnant.
    Lead Researcher: O’Sullivan, S.
    Duration: 2010-2014
    Funding: Australian Research Council [National Competitive Funding]

    The project aims to explore the capacity of nationally-significant museums in Australia, the United States of America and Great Britain*, to incorporate their own Indigenous and First Peoples’ stories, engagement and representations into their museum programs. In particular the project is concerned with examining best-practice examples identified by museum professionals.

    As a further lens on the project, we are interested in the ways that technology has been used to relocate stories, and increase participation from communities. We are gathering examples about how these stories support museums in incorporating a sense of Indigenous or First Peoples’ identity and culture: the digital remnant - both as a tool of resonance and resilience.

    In exploring the capacity of national museums to incorporate Indigenous and First Peoples’ stories and representations into their exhibition programs, the project aims to support the museum industry in charting meaningful outcomes and in understanding the industry-identified representations of First Peoples. Through this project, we want to reflect ideas, and show examples, of what works in this engagement.

    Brief of the project can be found here.

    Supporting an Indigenous education focus across the programs of the Office for Learning and Teaching
    Duration: 2012-2014
    Funding: Office for Learning and Teaching [National Competitive Funding]

    Funding was made available for Sandy’s ongoing work with the OLT. This has included a series of workshops on alternative dissemination in research training and supporting an Indigenous focus across the national programs of the Office for Learning and Teaching, including programs led by University of Sydney, University of Queensland and Griffith University.

    Alternative Dissemination as a culturally appropriate tool for research training dissemination.
    Duration: 2008-2010
    Funding: Office for Learning and Teaching [National Competitive Funding]

    Indigenous research students have significantly reduced participation in the academy compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. This fellowship program aimed to respond to this dire situation by stimulating Indigenous research students and their supervisors to consider how new media forms of dissemination, such as image/sound, film, exhibition and digital media, may form culturally appropriate alternatives or adjuncts to the linear, written thesis form.

    Using a framework of development and dissemination, this program sought to articulate strategies for Indigenous research students and their supervisory teams to achieve meaningful goals in their research training, by engaging the epistemologies and cultural knowledge they bring to the academy, while challenging a perception of remediation.

    A copy of the report can be found here

    The following are research outcomes from these and other research projects. They are limited to the last few years, for a full citation list, please see Sandy’s entry in the Batchelor Institute Research Repository.


    O’Sullivan, S. 2013, ‘Reversing the gaze: Considering Indigenous perspectives on museums, cultural representation and the equivocal digital remnant’, in Ormond-Parker, L, Corn, A, Obata, K & O’Sullivan, S. (eds.), Information Technologies and Indigenous Communities, AIATSIS Press, Canberra.
    O’Sullivan, S. 2012 'Academic Reflection on the Living Cultures Program' Living Cultures (book, ed: Stephen Welsh), University of Manchester.
    [forthcoming] O’Sullivan, S. 2014 'How to [not] define Aboriginal lesbian Identity' (book chapter) in Dudgeon, P and Herbert, J, Australian Indigenous Women’s Intellectual Traditions and Gendered Writing, Magabala Books, WA.
    [forthcoming] O’Sullivan, S. 2014. ‘Challenges for educators in engaging with reciprocity’ in Arts-Based Service Learning with First Peoples - Towards Respectful and Mutually Beneficial Educational Practices in Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education Book Series, Springer, New York/Heidelberg.
    [forthcoming] O’Sullivan, S. 2015. Culture at the edge of the world: performed Indigenous identities in the national museum space in Helen Gilbert, Dani Phillipson and Michelle Raheja (eds.) In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization in University of Minnesota Press, USA.
    [forthcoming] O’Sullivan, S. 2015. Recasting identities: a case for First Peoples voices in the museum project, International Handbook of Intercultural Arts. Routledge.


    Ormond-Parker, L, Corn, A, Obata, K & O’Sullivan, S. (eds.). 2013 Information Technologies and Indigenous Communities, AIATSIS Press, Canberra.


    2013. Reversing the Gaze. Titiro Whakamua at Museums Aotearoa: New Zealand. A video of this keynote is available here:
    2012. Racialising Desire Conference at Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association Conference: Adelaide.
    2011. Talking up keeping places and understanding national places of keeping at Keeping Places & Beyond: building cultural futures forum, Museums & Galleries NSW, Carriage Works, Sydney.


    [Forthcoming] O’Sullivan, S. (Artist) June 2014. 'Over Rooftops, Under Sky; the Sea' in Jenny Fraser (Cur.), Sights from Sirens, an exhibition of JAALA Biennial, Kawasaki City Museum, Japan.
    O’Sullivan, S. (Artist) 2013. to prepare you for the world: lost in whiteness, and to prepare you for the world (installation/presentation). University of London. In the Balance Performativity Conference.
    O'Sullivan, S. (Artist) 2012. Culture at the edge of the world (2) [Web Video]. Retrieved from
    O'Sullivan, S. (Artist) 2012. Culture at the edge of the world [installation] in Artists in Residents Retrospective. Wollongong, Australia; Wollongong City Gallery.


    Barney, K and O'Sullivan, S. 2014 (forthcoming) ‘A Conversation with Sandy O’Sullivan about Key Issues for the Australian Indigenous Studies Learning and Teaching Network’, Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. 2014.
    O'Sullivan, S. Avoiding the zero-sum game: An Indigenous Australian project-based perspective on creativity and research dissemination, Journal of Creativity and Human Development. Vol 2, January 2013.
    O'Sullivan, S., Yulyurlu Lorna Fencer Napurrurla [Review of the book Yulyurlu Lorna Fencer Napurrurla, by Margie West (ed.)], in Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol. 2012, no. 2, p.105.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2011. Locating voice and identity: understanding successful indigenous representation in national museum spaces. Museums Australia Annual Conference Papers, Perth.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2009 Multimedia/Intermedia Strategies as an Indigenous dissemination tool for practice-based research. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues. Monash 12:1-4: 155-161
    O'Sullivan, S. 2008. Intermedia: culturally appropriate dissemination tools for Indigenous postgraduate research training. Ngoonjook: a Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues 32: 51-55.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2007 Human Remains: anthropodermic bibliopegy and the appeal of the extreme in the appropriation of Indigeneity. Ngoonjook: a Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues 30: 80-85.


    O'Sullivan, S. 2014 Alternative Dissemination: How Should we Share Our Research? AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference, Canberra.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2013. Reversing the Gaze (panel: A museum ethnography: decolonisation, reconciliation and multiculturalism). International Union of Anthropologists and Ethnographers Society World Congress, Manchester, United Kingdom.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2013. Culture at the Edge of the World: Performed Indigenous Identities in the National Museum Space. In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization Conference. University of London, Royal Holloway.
    O'Sullivan, S.2013. The Indigenous Museum: Performative, Informative and Fearful. Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association National Conference. San Diego, USA.
    O'Sullivan, S. 2013. Reversing the Gaze: First Peoples' stories in the national museum space. Human Rights, Literature, the Arts and Social Sciences in the pursuit of Human Rights Conference. Michigan, USA.


    Sandy has presented at a range of seminars and workshops at Monash University, Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University, Wollongong University, University of Newcastle, University of Queensland, University of London, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Manchester University, American University (DC), Harvard University, Batchelor Institute, Charles Darwin University, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, University of Iowa, University of Idaho and Chicago School of the Art Institute.

    Her current workshop series (The Long Career) focuses on alternative dissemination as a strategy for building an Indigenous research cohort.

    For further details about any of these past or any upcoming seminars, please contact Sandy.

    Principal Supervisor – PhD

    Jenny Fraser
    Get Creative! Aboriginal Healing Arts and Decolonisation.

    Principal Supervisor – Masters

    Ted Lovelock
    Connecting the Footprints: Water Dragon Dreaming.

    Trish Carney
    Creative Writing (New title not yet available).

    Rebekah Farmer
    Remote Aboriginal Perspectives on Early Childhood Programs: One way, Both-Ways, No Way!


    Two completed masters, one completed PhD, two completed Honours (previous institutions, information available if requested)