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Personal profile


Career Highlights:

-  Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project on Climate Change and Gender in the Pacific (2018- 2023);

- Appointed to the G8 Taskforce advising Australia's Chief Medical Officer on COVID meansures (2020);

- Lead negotiator for the Republic of Vanuatu on climate change and regional political issues (West Papua) in various regional and international forums (2019-2020);

- Chief Investigator on the evaluation of a $8.25 million project looking at the use of family dispute resolution in the context of family violence in Indigenous and refugee families (2017-2020);

- Awarded the Australian Anthropology prize for the best thesis in Anthropology in Australia (2017);

- Awarded the Gender Institute prize for the thesis that most contributed to the advancement of gender studies (2017);

- Chief Investigator on a project for the Solomon Islands Government to develop a land reform pathway (2015);  

- Principal drafter of a new set of land laws in Vanuatu, as well as amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu (2013-14);

- Legal/policy advisor Central Land Council (2003-2008);

- Project Manager Reconciliation Australia (2001-2003);

- Research Officer Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (1999-2003).


Current student projects

  • Maeve Powell. Indigenous Wellbeing in Urban Spaces: expressing voice through walking and photography in Canberra (PhD Supervisor).
  • Evie Rose. Not drowning, fighting: geopolitics, gender and the rising tides of climate change diplomacies in Ocenaia. (PhD Supervisor).
  • Trish Tupou. Recasting Tongan Sovereignty:Land, Gender and Indigeneity. (PhD Supervisor).
  • Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. Thesis title TBD. (PhD Panel Member).
  • Sarou Long. The Indigenous Communal Land Title Programme in Cambodia: Indigenous Identity, and Relationships to Land and State (PhD Panel Member).
  • Jade Anderson. Migrant? Refugee? Neither? Both?  “Mixed Migration” and the Production of Difference in Human Mobility (PhD Panel Member).
  • Almah Tararia. Women's political participation and decison-making in New Ireland, PNG (PhD Panel Member).
  • Sam Provost. Challenging the cadastre: counter-mapping Yuin landscapes to reinscribe Country (PhD Panel Member).


Research interests

I am a Legal Anthropologist who engages in applied work in Indigenous Australia and Oceania around the politics of climate change and disaster, land rights and gender.

My commitment to the practice of applied research means that I produce research that contributes to high-impact policy and legal outcomes.

I am currently engaged in the following research projects: (1) issues related to gender and climate change in Oceania; (2) decolonising the anthropocence; (3) displacement and resettlement in the context of climate change and disaster; (4) disaster responses and planning in the Pacific; and, (5) how to adapt the family law system to better meet the needs of Indigenous, refugee and migrant families.

Available student projects

Researcher's projects

Dr Siobhan McDonnell is currently working on projects in Indigenous Australia and the Pacific including: 

- Climate change and gender in the Pacific;

- Displacement and resettlement in the context of climate change, disaster and eviction;

- Land reform and indigenous land rights in the Pacific and Indigenous Australia;

- Use of family dispute resolution processes amongst Indigenous, refugee and migrant families who have experienced violence;

- Concepts of 'resilience' and 'vulnerability' in the context of disaster management in the Pacific; and,

- The practice of activist research.

Past student projects

Completed students: 

  • Ed Wensing. Decolonising Property: How Indigenous and Settler systems of land ownerhsip, use and tenure can coexist in parity (PhD Thesis, Panel Chair).
  • Evie Rose. Undervalued, Not Underwater: A Talanoa on Climate Change in Oceania (Honours Thesis, Primary supervisor). Subsequently awarded the Gender Institute prize.
  • Méabh Cryan. Report on ‘Property, State Land and Lisan: Assembling the Land and the State in Post-Independence Timor-Leste’. (Joint Primary supervisor).
  • Emily Crawford. 'A gender analysis of food security and food sovereignty in Vanuatu: potential pathways for a multi-vocal approach in changing climate' (Masters Thesis, Primary Supervisor).



PhD Legal Anthropology (ANU), B.Ec (Hons) (ANU), LLB (Hons) (ANU)


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