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Emily Poelina-Hunter

Lecturer in the Indigenous Studies Unit, RMIT University

Emily is an Aboriginal (Nyikina) academic and Lecturer in the Indigenous Studies Unit at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

She is also in the final months of her PhD at The University of Melbourne, on prehistoric tattooing and anthropomorphic art in Early Cycladic culture (ca. 3200-2000 BCE).

During her PhD candidature at The University of Melbourne, Emily was awarded several significant scholarships for her archaeological fieldwork, which took her to Israel, the Republic of Georgia, Turkey, Greece, and in particular, the Cycladic Islands. She also chaired the university's Indigenous Graduate Students Association in 2014, and undertook a Faculty of Arts Indigenous Cadetship working in the university's Research Unit for Indigenous Language in 2014-2015.

Her 2007 work on Birr Nganka Nyikina (an encyclopedic Nyikina-English dictionary completed in 2014) was a life changing 'on country' community project. This cultural work and associated research informed one of the three case studies in her Masters thesis, Talkin' Bout a Revolution: Cultural effects on the transition from oral to written literature.

Emily's move from prehistoric Greek archaeology into Australian Indigenous Studies is the culmination of integrating Aboriginal knowledge, content and methodologies in her various research work, and her Indigenous community engagement over the years.

Research interests: Early Cycladic archaeology, anthropomorphism in prehistoric art, archaeology of tattooing, history of tattooing, contemporary attitudes toward tattooing, female tattooing, body modification and identity, Indigeneity and identity (especially the Australian three-part test for Indigeneity), gender studies, feminist studies, Indigenous policy in Australia, cultural safety.

Current teaching: Indigenous Studies (undergraduate), Indigenous Policy (undergraduate and postgraduate), Landscapes of places, landscapes of the mind (undergraduate and postgraduate), guest lecturing in Intercultural Communication (undergraduate)

Qualifications: 2010 - Present, PhD Candidate (Aegean archaeology); 2014, Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Research and Leadership; 2009, Graduate Diploma of Art (Greek major); 2008 - 2009, Masters of Arts in Classical Studies; 2005 - 2007, BA(Hons) in Classical Studies (First class honours).


  • 2014–present
    Chairperson, Indigenous Graduate Students Association
  • 2016–2017
    Lecturer, RMIT University
  • 2014–2015
    Project Officer, Research Unit for Indigenous Language