Our history

Deakin proudly builds on a rich three-decade history of Indigenous education, from humble beginnings in 1986 to our current day commitment to the First Nations staff, students and communities that we serve.

Building on a rich history

In 1986 at Waurn Ponds, a spark was ignited that became a lighthouse for the nation when the groundbreaking Koorie Teacher Education Program (KTEP) was launched at Deakin, pioneering a new chapter in Indigenous education.

The KTEP later evolved into the nationally and internationally recognised Institute of Koorie Education (IKE). Through community-based programs over three decades, IKE ensured that Indigenous students had access to higher education while maintaining family, work and community commitments.

In 2020, IKE acknowledged its growing capabilities and relaunched as the National Indigenous Knowledges Education Research Innovation (NIKERI) Institute. The name change signalled a national footprint inclusive of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Knowledges, as well as a commitment to Indigenous research within the Institute moving forward.

The appointment of respected Gunditjmara man Professor Mark Rose as the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Innovation in 2019 and the release of the Deakin Indigenous Strategy (PDF, 3.2 MB) in 2023 reiterates our commitment to continuously improve across five domains: students, knowledge, employment, community and whole-of-University.

At Deakin, we continue to build on the proud history of providing accessible education through community-based programs, as well as through strategic action that values Indigenous education a shared responsibility for the whole Deakin community.

The strategy encapsulates our journey thus far, but more importantly, expresses our deeply held beliefs about what still needs to be done, and how we will achieve it.

Professor Iain Martin

Vice-Chancellor, Deakin University

Walking towards a shared future

Over three decades Deakin has witnessed iterations to Indigenous life, ATSIC, Congress, Reconciliation and with it contributed to the rise of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academy. Students carrying a Deakin qualification have represented their communities at every significant gathering ranging from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to Desert Sands and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

As we enter a new era of Treaty and Statement from the Heart, and commence the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, it is time to redefine First Nations education moving forward.

In doing so we draw on the spirit of 1986 and spark a new light that will shine across the sector as a spotlight for First Nations Peoples and Communities. As a University, we walk towards a shared future that advances the Indigenous communities we serve and positions authentic First Nations Knowledges into the fabric of Australian life.

Deakin University has a proud history in Indigenous education. We have been privileged to work alongside Indigenous students, staff and community to build the aspirations and support the achievements of First Nations learners and scholars.

Professor Liz Johnson

Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Acknowledgement of Country

Deakin University acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of all the unceded lands, skies and waterways on which Deakin students, staff and communities come together.

As we learn and teach through virtually and physically constructed places across time, we pay our deep respect to the Ancestors and Elders of Wadawurrung Country, Eastern Maar Country and Wurundjeri Country, where our physical campuses are located.

We also acknowledge the many First Nations from where students join us online and make vital contributions to our learning communities.



We deliberately use the terms Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Indigenous, First Nations, First Peoples interchangeably and in doing so acknowledge that while people have personal preferences, none of these terms are perfect and with that imperfection each carry nuanced residual forms of colonial power. This content is developed with the core value of respect.

Supportive environment

Supportive environment

If you’re thinking about studying at Deakin, we’ve got support services in place that help you to achieve your goals. Whether you’re looking for course advice, personal or financial support or something else, we want to help set you up for a bright future.

Contact us

We’re here to support you. If you have any questions or want to speak to someone about your study options, you can contact us by phone or email.

NIKERI Institute

+61 3 5227 2538

Future students

1800 693 888