Associate Professor Deirdre Howard-Wagner

Senior Fellow
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 sociologist and socio-legal scholar and Senior Fellow in the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR). 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 is a non-Indigenous women who 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 (see Nakata and Maddison 2019, 415). It is a specialised body of research advancing knowledge through 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). 

Howard-Wagner 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.

Working at the intersections of sociology, critical Indigenous political philosophy, Socio-Legal Studies, and critical race and whiteness studies, her publications adopt a critical and analytical lens to understand the Australian Government’s policy approach to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage, justice, service delivery, development, reconciliation, racism, and urban governance. 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 426 national/international publications and by scholars in Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands (see Google Scholar citations).

Researcher's projects

NSW OCHRE Accord Negotiations Review (2021 - $148,683) (Secondary investigator) with Prof Tony Dreise (Lead CI), Dr Bill Fogarty, Dr Francis Markham, Dr Marnie O'Brien, Dr Morgan Harrington 

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

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)

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

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)

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)

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).


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



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  25 September 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers