Dan Tout’s experience

What made you choose to undertake your program?

I have long had an interest in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and Australian Aboriginal history. Following several years of work and travel after high school, I therefore returned to tertiary study to pursue this interest and (finally) completed a Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Studies) degree as a mature-age student in 2011. During the course of my degree, I became aware of the emerging interdisciplinary approach of settler colonial studies, which struck me as possessing the potential to provide new and original (and, I believe, important) insight into Australia’s settler colonial history and present situation.

Since I had completed my Bachelor of Arts online (via Open Universities Australia), there was no option for my continuation into an Honours program available at the time. I therefore went looking elsewhere for an ‘on-campus’ option to pursue my interest in further study. I was drawn to Swinburne by the presence within the Swinburne Institute for Social Research of now A/Prof Lorenzo Veracini, an important pioneer in the field of settler colonial studies, who had recently published his seminal book Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview and was in the process of establishing the journal Settler Colonial Studies to further promote innovative, interdisciplinary research in the area. After meeting with A/Prof Veracini and being thoroughly convinced of my interest in pursuing further study under his supervision, I successfully applied for the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and have happily continued on to my current status of PhD Candidate from there.


What did you like about your program?

My overwhelmingly positive experience at Swinburne since my enrolment in the BA (Honours) program in 2012 has been almost entirely due to the excellent teaching staff at the institution, whether that is the convenor of the Social Science stream in the Honours program, Dr Deb Dempsey, Professor Brian Costar in the Politics subjects of the Honours program, or my Principal Supervisor on both my Honours and PhD projects, A/Prof Lorenzo Veracini. These three staff members in particular are not only remarkably well-respected and well-credentialed researchers in their own respective areas of expertise, but have consistently demonstrated a level of sensitivity and dedication to the needs and requirements of Honours and postgraduate students that I have not experienced, or observed, at other education institutions I have been involved with. Due largely to their support and guidance, and especially that of A/Prof Veracini, I was able to graduate from my Honours program with First Class results and was, as a consequence, successful in my application for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship to support my PhD program. Without this scholarship I would not have been able to continue my studies beyond my Honours year, so I am very grateful to Swinburne and to these staff members for their support and assistance along the way.


Why did you choose Swinburne?

As noted above, I followed my Honours and PhD supervisor, A/Prof Lorenzo Veracini, an important pioneer in the establishment of the emerging interdisciplinary approach of settler colonial studies, who in 2010 published Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview and in 2011 published the first issue of what is now the established academic journal in the field, Settler Colonial Studies. These publications have since become seminal texts in the field of settler colonial studies. I met with A/Prof Veracini prior to applying for Honours and came to Swinburne to work with him.

As far as Swinburne as an institution, Swinburne has an excellent reputation for study and research in the social sciences and is well regarded as a teaching university. Both of these aspects proved accurate in my experience. A/Prof Lorenzo Veracini recommended the Honours Social Science stream to me as the best option for me to pursue my interest in investigating the influences of settler colonialism on Australian settler nationalism. The level of teaching and support in the Social Science program, including in particular Dr Deb Dempsey and Prof Brian Costar, was fantastic, so his recommendation paid off.


What do you hope to gain from your Swinburne course?

At this stage, I have no specific plans beyond the completion of my doctorate and am therefore focused exclusively on that aim at present. Beyond the obvious gains to my knowledge and experience, I would very much like to further pursue my research interests in the areas of Australian settler colonialism, Aboriginal history and settler nationalism, however how the opportunity to further this research might present itself in the future is beyond my present horizon. At the very least, all going according to plan, I will graduate from my PhD program with the knowledge and experience, not to mention the qualifications, to pursue such opportunities as may arise.


What advice do you have for other students considering coming to Swinburne?

Go for it! The only tip I have for prospective students is that if you’re considering applying for a research-based program, whether it’s an Honours year or a postgraduate degree, make contact with potential supervisors early and, with any luck, you’ll land yourself a keeper.

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