HASS and Indigenous Research Data Commons Receives $25 Million

The ARDC welcomes a grant from the Australian Government’s 2023 NCRIS Funding Round that supports the development of enduring national digital research infrastructure for HASS and Indigenous researchers in Australia.
Silhouettes of a group of people on a beach at dusk

The ARDC-led Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Indigenous Research Data Commons (HASS and Indigenous RDC) has received the largest ever investment in HASS research infrastructure in Australia. The $25 million grant from the Australian Government’s 2023 National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Funding Round, along with co-investment from national partners, will continue to deliver long-term, enduring national digital research infrastructure to support HASS and Indigenous researchers in Australia. 

This grant is in addition to the $8.9 million received from NCRIS to establish the HASS and Indigenous RDC, which was launched in 2021.

Jenny Fewster, Director, HASS and Indigenous RDC, ARDC, said, “We welcome the Australian Government’s investment in establishing research infrastructure to support researchers to harness research data to enhance Australian social and cultural wellbeing, and help understand and preserve our culture, history and heritage.”

Dr Kristen Smith, Research Director, Indigenous Studies Unit and Indigenous Data Network, The University of Melbourne, manages the Indigenous Research Capability program within the HASS and Indigenous RDC. “The need for national digital infrastructure for HASS and Indigenous research data in Australia has never been greater. Therefore, this investment represents the ARDC’s commitment to ambitious infrastructure reforms that will have a national impact on research communities and Indigenous data custodians across all sectors. 

“The continuance of this innovative, transdisciplinary program of work has the potential to locate Australia as the leader of Indigenous Data Governance and Sovereignty application, using novel and progressive approaches to improving Indigenous research capabilities that will inform Indigenous research data custodians internationally.”

Professor Michael Haugh, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Queensland, leads the Language Data Commons of Australia as part of the HASS and Indigenous RDC. “The ARDC’s investment in the Language Data Commons of Australia provides a more secure basis for research across a range of areas and benefits various communities in our society. 

“Ensuring secure storage and ongoing governance for language data means that legacy datasets – as well as datasets yet to be collected – will be available for researchers with full description of the nature of the data, who can use it, and for what purposes. 

“The data will be reusable both for addressing new research questions and for checking the results of previous work, an important step to making HASS research better documented and more accountable, and will open up the social and economic possibilities of Australia’s linguistic heritage.”

Over the past 2 years, the HASS and Indigenous RDC has delivered data infrastructure identified in the previous funding round from the Australian Government, including enhancing the National Library of Australia’s Trove catalogue to benefit researchers, saving at-risk datasets, launching the Australian Text Analytics Platform, creating a central infrastructure for access and authorisation to HASS and Indigenous research data and tools, and creating the Gazetteer of Historic Australian Places.

Projects of the HASS and Indigenous RDC currently include:

  • the Language Data Commons of Australia
  • the Integrated Research Infrastructure for Social Sciences
  • Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities
  • the ARDC Community Data Lab.

The new investment supports the continued delivery and expansion of the HASS and Indigenous RDC until 2028. It will expand its current project areas, and broaden its scope to include:

  • media(ted) data – facilitating access to large collections of dynamic digital data and providing the analysis tools and skills for insights into Australian society and culture
  • the creative arts – enhancing the discovery and exploration of Australian arts and arts collections.

Thematic Research Data Commons for Enduring Digital Infrastructure

The HASS and Indigenous RDC is one of 3 national-scale Thematic Research Data Commons led by the ARDC in partnership with the research community. The Thematic Research Data Commons are designed to meet Australia’s future research needs with long-term, enduring digital infrastructure.

The new funding from the Australian Government will be invested through the ARDC’s co-design and co-investment approach to building digital research infrastructure. In early 2024, we will work with the HASS and Indigenous research community to co-design the programs and projects that will meet the digital infrastructure needs of researchers now and in the future.

The HASS and Indigenous RDC also integrates the ARDC’s underpinning compute, storage infrastructure and services, including the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud. It is supported by our extensive expertise, and work on developing community-agreed standards and best practices. The program is also upskilling researchers from research institutions and Indigenous-owned organisations to use data-driven approaches to HASS and Indigenous research.

These coordinated, structured, and complementary activities are building data assets, tools, and skills that will constitute a national ‘knowledge infrastructure’ that enables Australian researchers to transform our lives.

Get involved in upcoming consultations by registering your interest in the HASS and Indigenous Research Data Commons.

Learn about the 2 other research data commons: 

The ARDC is funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national digital research infrastructure for Australian researchers.