Four people sitting on a bench observing a large Indigenous painting hanging on the wall

First Nations academic paving the way for diversity and inclusion

7 July 2021

We chat to Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes during NAIDOC Week

As a Kamilaroi woman who became vision impaired as a child and is now working at the University’s Indigenous Research Hub, Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes reflects on her day-to-day job as an advocate, researcher and academic.

My favourite thing about my role is...

My favourite thing about my role as a First Nations academic and researcher is the incredible diversity of work I get to collaborate in.

My own portfolio research ranges from projects like: How to talk about health in Wiradjuri; working with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and Sydney Policy Lab to develop a National Disability Data Asset; and, collaborating with the Vaartoe - Centre for Sami Research, Umea Universitet, Sweden.

On top of that, I coordinate the Sydney Indigenous Research Network which brings together researchers at all stages of their careers and study who are working in Indigenous spaces locally and globally.

Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes, her guide dog Topaz, some students, sitting in a circle talking with each other

Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes and her guide dog Topaz instruct some eager students

At the moment I am working on...

Recently I was appointed to be Co-Chair of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) Implementation Group alongside Professor Tim Soutphommasane and a passionate team of equity advocates

This project is interesting and important to me because...

At any time anyone can become a ‘member of the disability club’ either short or long-term and yet, access and inclusion are too frequently an afterthought or put in the ‘too difficult/expensive basket.

The DIAP Implementation Group is a team of knowledgeable and experienced disability advocates who are passionate about removing barriers that inhibit people with a disability living a successful and joyful life. Enacting the DIAP objectives means that Sydney becomes a university of choice where students, staff and visitors with disability are not excluded, frustrated or just feel like they don’t belong. 

I am never bored, I learn so much, and get to work with and mentor people who are working in often contentious spaces, giving voice to stories often silenced.
Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes

The Indigenous Research Hub (IRH) team is great at...

Working collaboratively across a diversity of issues that matter to Indigenous people locally and globally. The IRH mentors and supports Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers working in Indigenous spaces at all stages of their career path. We are fantastic at bringing people together. Significantly, it is a culturally safe and ability inclusive team. 

My favourite place to go on campus is...

I have a love of coffee and indulge in a croissant. So I enjoy visiting our many cafes on campus. My guide dog Topaz however, enjoys visiting grassed areas and sometimes we can be found on the oval throwing her frisbee. There’s also a beautiful courtyard hidden in the Quadrangle Building where we sometimes chill.

Learn more about Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes’s research in her academic profile

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