CNTA People

CNTA People

CNTA Staff

CNTA Director: Professor Nicolas Peterson

Professor Nicolas Peterson

Nicolas Peterson is professor of anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University.  His initial engagement with land rights issues was working as the Research Officer for the Royal Commission in to Aboriginal Land Rights (the Woodward Commission) which subsequently led to him to prepare a number of major land claim reports, and post Mabo the test case for native title rights in the sea (Yarmirr case) with Jeannie Devitt.  Most recently he has completed the Mt Doreen native title claim and a Northern Territory short form connection report, both with Anna Kenny.


CNTA Co-Director: Ms Petronella Vaarzon-Morel

Petronella Vaarzon-Morel (MA Indiana University) is Global Lecturer in Anthropology, New York University, where she has lectured since 2013. She is also Adjunct Visiting Fellow, College of Indigenous Futures Education and the Arts, Charles Darwin University, and Honorary Research Associate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney. She also practices as an independent anthropologist and has worked for more than forty years with Aboriginal peoples, mainly in Central Australia (Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory) but also in Queensland.

Petronella has authored or co-authored anthropological reports for 16 Aboriginal land and native title claims across Australia. In addition to land claim and native title claim research, she has undertaken anthropological research for cross-disciplinary projects concerning Indigenous burning practices, introduced animals, health, housing, and oral history.


CNTA Research Fellow: Dr Julie Finlayson

Julie Finlayson

Julie Finlayson is an anthropologist who has worked as an academic (La Trobe University and ANU) and in applied fields, including claim/heritage work under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and across the native title system. Her early consultancy work in native title included an innovative program for early career native title anthropologists funded by the NNTT, and a survey in 2006 of the demography and skills of anthropologists in the native title sector. For several years she ran fee-paying intensive courses for native title practictioners through the University of Adelaide. She consulted to ATSIC's Native Title Branch and was a member of the Minister's team reviewing NTRBs after legislative amendments initiated by the 10 Point Plan. During 8 years in the Australian Public Service she work in AGD funding Indigenous legal aid services, and in FAHCSIA's CDEP program. Her published research, aside from native title (see CAEPR DPs) includes a study of successful Indigenous organisations (see AIATSIS). Recently she was a manager/DJ in an Indigenous community radio station in rural Australia.

CNTA Expertise

The CNTA draws on a wide pool of expertise to deliver high quality, targeted programs. Contributors to CNTA events have included a wide range of academic and applied athropologists and legal proffessionals working in the feild of native title. 

The CNTA works closely with Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Services Providers across Australia and has participated in Federal Court native title forums. Workshop partners have included:

  • Cape York Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
  • Central Desert Native Title Services
  • Central Land Council
  • Goldfields Native Title Services
  • First Nations Legal and Research Services 
  • North Queensland Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
  • Northern Land Council
  • Queensland South Native Title Services
  • Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation

Other partners have included the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), the University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney, La Trobe University and the University of Queensland.

Updated:  18 January 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications