Mr Kevin Keeffe

BA Hons (ANU), Dip T
Honorary Lecturer, Centre for Native Title Anthropology
T: 0427676864

Areas of expertise

  • Australian Government And Politics 160601
  • Studies Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Society 169902
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change 050101
  • Curriculum And Pedagogy 1302
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Education 130301

Research interests

Kevin Keeffe is researching the contested and changing relationship between Indigenous Australians and the state:

  • The history of efforts to change Government policy to recognise and support the cultural, political and citizenship entitlements of Indigenous Australians. 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander remote communities and the efforts over time to gain access to appropriate and effective services, especially in the areas of education, helath and land management.
  • Strategies to mitigate climate change and improve economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
  • Indigenous education, including bilingual and bicutltural curriculum development


Kevin Keeffe is an Honorary Lecturer at the ANU Centre for Native Title Anthropology.

Before the 2019 election, he was Chief of Staff for Senator Patrick Dodson, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

He was the Executive Director of Australian Red Cross in Queensland for four years from 2012.

He was the State Manager (Queensland) for the Department of Families, Housing and Community Affairs from 2009 to 2011 at First Assistant Secretary level.  He came to that role from the Department of Environment, Heritage, Water and the Arts. 

Kevin led the Commonwealth secretariat for the Garnaut Review on Climate Change during 2008 after acting as interim Chief of Staff to the new Minister for Climate Change and Water, the Hon Senator Penny Wong.

Kevin was the Assistant Secretary of the Communications and International Branch of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, responsible for communications, ministerial liaison, parliamentary and international coordination. Kevin has been Assistant Secretary for World Heritage representing Australia in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and responsible for national and indigenous heritage programs. He led the campaign for listing Purnululu National Park for world heritage listing.  Kevin was Chair of the OECD Environment Policy Committee for five years. 

Born in Cairns, North Queensland, he first worked as a teacher in remote indigenous communities in Cape York (Kowanyama) and Central Australia (Papunya, Docker River, Utopia). After his ANU studies (BA Hons ANU), he worked as a research fellow in indigenous education and curriculum development at AITSIS. He worked as a Ministerial Adviser to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon R.E Tickner and in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on reconciliation and native title issues.

Kevin has published widely on indigenous issues.  His last book, Paddy’s Road, was a biography and family history of Aboriginal leader, Patrick Dodson. His earlier book, From the Centre to the City focused on issues of Aboriginal education, culture and power.



Researcher's projects

Current research projects:

  • The history and contemporary status of policy and programs for regional and remote governance in Indigenous Australia

  • Proposals for regional and local voices to influence Government policy and programs in response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

  • The consequences of the failure to implement the recommendations of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, especially relating to indigenous land use and economic development.

  • Supporting Indigenous efforts to record the history of their community organisations (with a focus on Central Australia).

Past student projects

Select bibliography

With J Newbould 2013: Towards a New Place: Tackling Homelessness in Townsville Parity Vol 26 Issue 4.

2009: Review of A Buti Sir Ronald Wilson: A matter of Conscience in Aboriginal History no 32, 302-5 

2003 Paddy’s Road:  Life Stories of Patrick Dodson.  Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press (book)

2002 Crimes of love: history of an Aboriginal family Oral History Association of Australia Journal no. 24, p. 11-17

With B Alpher 2000 “Playing Songs Can be Dangerous: Creativity in Song Transmission: Cape York Peninsula” in in J. Simpson, D. Nash, M. Laughren, P. Austin, and B. Alpher (eds), Forty years on: Ken Hale and Australian languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics

With D Nash 1997 Review of: Encyclopædia of Aboriginal Australia CD-ROM. Aboriginal History 19.2,206-9.

1992  From the Centre to the City: Aboriginal Education, Culture and Power  Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra (book)

1991 "21- Coming of Age for Aboriginal Australia," In A Roberts (ed) Writing Aboriginal History Federation of Australian Historical Societies, Canberra.

With B. Chapman 1990 "Higher Education Charges: Is there a choice?" The Independent Monthly, March.

1990 "Wet left and dry left; Performance indicators for Aboriginal students in higher education," In T. Wyatt and A. Ruby (eds.) Education Indicators for Quality, Accountability and Better Practice. Australian Conference of Directors-General of Education, Sydney.

1990 "Bridge to Nowhere: Aboriginal students and Higher Education" In Discourse  Special Edition on Social Justice in Education.

1990  "Science, Technology and Aboriginal Studies" In From Ochres  to Eel Traps: a resource guide for teachers on Aboriginal science and technology. ACT Department of Education.

1989 "Mapping the Curriculum: A Yanangu Case Study". Australian Aboriginal Studies (1):36-44.

1989 "To Hold the Land Firmly: A Commentary on a Painting" In Which Way for the Curriculum?, Australian Curriculum Studies Association, Canberra.

1988 "Soft Racism: Aboriginal Youth in Canberra", ACT Council of Social Services.  (1).

With J. Schmider 1988 Aboriginal Australian Studies. Australian Studies Schools Project, C.D.C., Canberra.

1988 "Aboriginality: Resistance and Persistence", Australian Aboriginal Studies (1) 67-81.

1987. " Curriculum Development in Aboriginal Studies" Australian Aboriginal Studies, (2)

1986 "Australian Studies must reflect the reality of our modern community" Curriculum Development in Australian Schools, C.D.C., Canberra.



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