Associate Professor Deirdre Howard-Wagner

Senior Fellow
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 61253748

Areas of expertise

  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Policy 160501
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Law 180101
  • Race And Ethnic Relations 160803
  • Urban Sociology And Community Studies 160810
  • Sociology 1608

Research interests

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy

overcoming urban Indigenous disadvantage

poverty governance

innovative Indigenous justice

urban Indigenous development, governance and self-determination

international urban Indigenous social movements

urban place-based Indigenous success

urban First Nations organisation-based success

urban and regional locality-based Indigenous service delivery, including service delivery enablement

Indigenous invisibility in the city

comparative international studies

whiteness, racism and race relations

state governmentality in the neoliberal age


Associate Professor Howard-Wagner is a non-Indigenous sociologist and socio-legal scholar and Research Director and Senior Fellow in the Centre for Indigenous Policy Research. She is former President of the Law and Society Association Australia and New Zealand and former co-Chief Editor of the Australian Journal of Social Issues (AJSI).

Howard-Wagner has a well-established international research standing and is well-recognised as contributing to the public policy literature attending to the structural and foundational challenges the state presents for Australian Indigenous policymaking. She has produced a body of work analysing Australian Government policy around overcoming Indigenous disadvantage/Closing the Gap and Indigenous service delivery in urban contexts, speaking back to those policy approaches through grounded knowledge and case studies of the invaluable contribution of urban First Nations-led governance, development, economies, communities, and community-controlled organisations to First Nations people and wider society.  It is a specialised body of research advancing knowledge through partnering with and privileging the voices of First Nations peoples. She has achieved this as the recipient of nine competitive categories 1, 2 & 3 grants, including four as lead CI. DP180103453 (lead CI), DE120100798 (lead CI), ANU Futures Scheme Award (lead CI), OCHRE LDM Evaluation (secondary CI) & OCHRE Accord Negotiation Review (secondary CI) interact in significant ways to consolidate this knowledge in urban localities. Research that is co-designed with First Nations people, communities and organisations and that is beneficial to First Nations peoples, organisations and communities and that reaches end-users (service providers and policy actors). 

She publishes and maintains broad interests in the fields of Sociology and Socio-Legal Studies. Her sole-authored manuscript Indigenous invisibility in the City (2021) is published in the Routledge Advances in Sociology series. Her article Governance of Indigenous policy in the neoliberal age: Indigenous disadvantage and the intersecting of paternalism and neoliberalism as a racial project (2018) is published in a lead international sociology journal Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Research published in Q1 and Q2 international and national journals, such as the lead international sociological journal in her field Ethnic and Racial Studies Journal (2018, Q1, 2466 reads & 27 citations) and first article, the first issue for the year in lead international Indigenous policy journal, International Journal of Indigenous Policy (2019, Q1, 193 downloads and 8 citations). Her analysis of and observations concerning Australian Indigenous policy development have been taken up and cited in 607 national/international publications and by scholars in Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands (see Google Scholar).

Researcher's projects

NSW OCHRE Accord Negotiations Review (2021 - $148,683) (Secondary investigator) with Prof Valerie Cooms (Lead CI), Dr Francis Markham, Dr Marnie O'Bryan 

Related Reports


Howard-Wagner, D. & Harrington, M. (2022) Barang Accord Negotiation, OCHRE Local Decision Making Stage 2 Accords Negotiation Evaluation, CAEPR Commission Report No 02/2022

NSW OCHRE Local Decision Making Evaluation (2019-present - $528,044) (Secondary investigator) with Prof Valerie Cooms (Lead CI), Dr Francis Markham Dr Mandy Yap, Ass Prof Janet Hunt 

Related Reports

Howard-Wagner, D. & Markham, F. (2023) OCHRE Local Decision Making Stage 2 Preliminary Findings Report, CAEPR Commissioned Paper 01/23.

Howard-Wagner, D. (2023) New South Wales Coalition of Aboriginal Alliances/State Accord Evaluation, CAEPR Commissioned Paper 03/23 Forthcoming

Howard-Wagner, D. (2024) OCHRE Local Decision Making Stage 2 Evaluation Synthesis Report, CAEPR Commission Paper Forthcoming.

ARC DP18 (July 2018-December 2021) NPM, Aboriginal organisations and Indigenous rights ($299,000) Howard-Wagner Lead CI with Ass Prof Janet Hunt (ANU) and Dr Karen Soldatic (UWS)

Related Publications:

Howard-Wagner, D. ed. (forthcoming) The Quiet Revolution in Indigenous Service Delivery: the effects on First Nations organisations, CAEPR Research Monograph. 

Deirdre Howard-WagnerKaren SoldaticJune RiemerJohn LehaChris MasonCheryl GohJanet HuntJack Gibson (2023) Organisational fragility among urban FNOs in the era of New Public Management, Australian Journal of Social Issues, published online first,

Howard-Wagner, D., Reimer, J, Leha J, et al (2022) Looking Beyond Indigenous Service Devliery: The Societal Purpose of Urban First Nations Organisations, CAEPR Discussion Paper, No. 301, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU, Canberra.

Howard-Wagner, D, Soldatic, K, Spurway, K, Hunt, J et al. 2022, 'First Nations organisations and strategies of disruption and resistance to settler-colonial governance in Australia', in Karen Soldatic, Louise St Guillaume (ed.), Social Suffering in the Neoliberal Age: State Power, Logics and Resistance, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Australia, pp. 211-225.

Commonwealth Indigenous Languages and Arts Program (2019-2020) Two Way Project ($148,200) to run a series of collaborative arts projects over the next two years with First Nations peoples and organisations in the ACT and Queanbeyan (Lead CI Dr Kirrily Jordan) with Annick Thomasin, Deirdre Howard-Wagner, Chris Sainsbury, Sean Perera and Alison Alder.

ANU Futures Scheme Award (Sept 2017 - Aug 2020) Urban Indigenous-driven development ($450,000) Lead sole CI

Related Publications:

ARC Discovery Early Career Research (March 2012 - July 2016) Aboriginal societies, governance and wellbeing: a study of Aboriginal community success in addressing disadvantage and promoting wellbeing (Lead sole CI)

Related Publications


OLT Grant (Innovation and Development) Indigenous online cultural teaching and sharing ($220,000) Professor Janet Mooney, Dr Lynette Riley, Dr Deirdre Howard-Wagner, Associate Professor Moira Sim, Toni Wain and Dr Cat Kutay (2011-2014)

Related Publications:

Riley , L & Howard-Wagner, D 2014, 'Kinship Module Teaching and Learning Framework', in <> (ed.), <>, pp. 1-51pp.  

Riley, L, Howard-Wagner, D, Mooney, J et al 2013, 'The Kinship On-Line Project and Aboriginal Community Engagement', Australian Association for Research in Education 2013 (AARE 2013), ed. Australian Association for Research in Education, Australian Association for Research in Education,, p. 15.  

Riley, L, Howard-Wagner, D, Mooney, J et al 2013, 'Embedding aboriginal cultural knowledge in curriculum at university level through aboriginal community engagement', in Rhonda G. Craven and Janet Mooney Eds (ed.), Seeding Success in Indigenous Australian Higher Education (Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited,, pp. 251-276pp. 

Kutay, C, Riley, L, Howard-Wagner, D et al 2012, 'Teaching Aboriginal Culture Online: Sustaining traditions of knowledge sharing', ASCILITE 2012: Future Challenges/Sustainable Futures, ed. M Brown, M Hartnett and T Steward, Massey University Press, New Zealand, pp. 1-10pp. 

Kutay, C, Mooney, J, Riley, L & Howard-Wagner, D. 2012, 'Experiencing indigenous knowledge online as a community narrative', The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 47-59pp.

Howard-Wagner, D, Kutay, C, Riley, L et al 2012, 'Decolonising Sociology Curriculum: using an online immersive learning environment to deliver cross-cultural training', Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association (TASA 2012), TASA (the Australian Sociological Association), Australia, p. 9.

Kutay, C, Howard-Wagner, D, Riley, L et al 2012, 'Teaching Culture as Social Constructivism', in E Popescu, Q Li, R Klamma, H Leung, M Specht (ed.), Advances in Web-Based Learning - ICWL 2012, Springer, Online, pp. 61-68pp.



SSHRCC Connection Grant - Law on the Edge ($50,000) Cunliffe E (British Columbia) McMillan J (St Francis Xavier) Duncanson K (La Trobe), Harris D (British Columbia), Mawani R (British Columbia), Howard-Wagner D (Sydney), Rumble W (Waikato), Leiboff M (Wollongong) (2013).

NSW Government - Evaluation of Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 (NSW) - Motor Accident Authority ($560,000) - CIs Professor Ted Wright and Dr D Howard-Wagner (2004-2006).

Related Reports:


Current student projects

Sarah Ciftci (PhD) Aboriginal Care Circles (University of Sydney)

Craig Ritchie (PhD) Culture and Policymaking: Toward better Aboriginal policymaking (CAEPR)

Jack Gibson (PhD) The Reconstruction of Indigenous organisations (University of Western Sydney)

Padma Newsome (PhD) School of Music ANU

Tanya Keed (MPhil) Loss of a Warrior - Impact of family violence on Aboriginal men and their journey to healing



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Updated:  21 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers