Dr Jared Thomas

Recipient of the Tirkapena Indigenous Award 2021

Dr Jared Thomas, a Nukunu man from the Southern Flinders Ranges, is a curator, arts administrator, international award-winning author and change maker. 

A penchant for storytelling is fundamental to Jared’s work as the Research Fellow, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Material Culture and Arts at the South Australian Museum and UniSA.

The Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal cultural material, comprised of more than 30,000 objects.

“Every object holds a story about the wonders of life on the Australian continent,” said Jared.

“Aboriginal Australia is the longest continuous living culture on the planet, there’s so much scope to transform the world’s understanding of Aboriginal people and culture.”

Prior to joining the Museum, Jared was the Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts and Culture at Arts South Australia. He has also been a lecturer at the University of South Australia, focusing on the politics of Indigenous representation in literature, film and media as well as the relationship between representation, policy and public conversation.

In 2019, he received a Churchill Fellowship to ‘investigate colonised people’s interpretative strategies in permanent gallery displays in America, Canada, New Zealand and Norway.’

Currently, he is a member of the Australia Council for the Arts Aboriginal Strategic Initiatives Panel, a board member of Arts Law, as well as an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

These sustained contributions to his field in both a professional and volunteer capacity have positively impacted outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Winner of the Tirkapena Indigenous Award, Jared said, “Success for me is bringing change for other people.”

“It’s not so much about what I can accomplish individually, it’s really about seeing that people have a better understanding of Aboriginal life, culture and aspirations.

“It’s seeing that young people have improved literacy, have a better understanding about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and that Aboriginal people are participating as much as possible in our cultural institutions, our education systems and our public life.”

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