Tiriki Onus (Yorta Yorta) is a Lecturer in Indigenous Arts and Culture and Co-Director of the Research Unit for Indigenous Arts and Cultures in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. Onus has performed as an operatic singer, exhibited and curated exhibitions artwork, internationally. He is a chief investigator on an ARC Discovery Project investigating Indigenous performance in southeast Australia between 1935-75, and is currently completing a PhD on Biganga (possum skin cloaks).

Research Unit for Indigenous Arts and Cultures

Through collaborative and interdisciplinary practice and research that investigates both explicit, embodied, and performed Indigenous epistemologies in research about arts and practice-based research, the Research Unit for Indigenous Arts and Cultures (RUIAC) seeks to address the need for Indigenous philosophies of practice in the academy. RUIAC is a collaborative research unit, hosted by the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at The University of Melbourne.

RUAIC was launched in November 2017 following a series of workshops and a symposium, attended by master artists from the regional Victoria, Kimberley, west Arnhem Land, Daly region, southeast Western Australia, and non-Indigenous collaborators from the community and academy, supported by the Indigenous Hallmark Research Initiative. Session discussions centred on fields and philosophies of practice in Indigenous arts, youth perspectives and practices in Indigenous arts, and wise practice for communities and academies. Embedding collaboration, reciprocity, accountability, and relational practice-based knowledge production and transmission, into RUIAC, the launch took the form of ceremonial dance, song, and exchange of gifts, including the Unit’s founding document – a possum skin cloak that participants produced in the course of the week. Participants sung, danced, painted and carved partnerships into the University.