In 2015, the inaugural Victoria University Bruce McGuinness Indigenous Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program was awarded to Dr Tony Birch – an outstanding Indigenous early career researcher seeking an academic/research career.
The Fellowship is a 4-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship position to develop and work on an innovative research project in one of the accepted areas of research focus.
In direct alliance with the work of Dr Bruce McGuinness, the encompassing aim of this Fellowship is to use the tools of research to improve community wellbeing and promote community empowerment.
Dr Bruce McGuinness: Biography & background
Dr Bruce McGuinness was one of Victoria's most respected Aboriginal elders and a leading activist in the struggle for Aboriginal justice. His uncle and mentor was the great political activist William Townsend (Bill) Onus.
Born in 1939 in Cootamundra, NSW of the Wiradjuri clan, McGuinness lived most of his life in Fitzroy, Melbourne. He was an initiator of several leading Aboriginal health and education services in Victoria including the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and a groundbreaking education program at Swinburne College, which evolved into Koori Kollij. The Koori Kollij health worker training program was recognised as a world leader by the World Health Organization.
McGuinness was also a member of prominent Koori advocacy groups including the Aboriginal Advancement League, for which he was the first Indigenous Director. He was the Victorian State Director of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI). Later, McGuinness was a foundation member of the National Tribal Council (NTC). The NTC was created as an alternative to FCAATSI at a crucial time when Aboriginal people were demanding control over their own organisations.
Influenced by the Black Power Movement in the United States, McGuinness pioneered the Black Power movement in Australia - which promoted a non-violent approach to establish equality and justice for all Indigenous Australians, advocating for Aboriginal people to take control of their own lives.
McGuinness undertook an arts degree at Monash University in the early 1970s and later Sydney’s Tranby Aboriginal College awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his lifelong work for the Aboriginal community. A poet and a filmmaker, McGuinness also firmly believed in the importance of education in empowering Aboriginal people to create change for themselves and their community.
By the time of his death in 2003, McGuinness had been active in the fight for Aboriginal self-determination, and to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal people for over 50 years.
It is hoped Bruce McGuinness’ leadership qualities, together with his creativity, and fortitude in working towards equality for Aboriginal Australians will live on in the Victoria University Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is in his name.
For more information contact the Moondani Balluk Academic Unit:
Phone: +61 3 9919 2836 (reverse charge calls accepted)