ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Research Activities

  • Regional
  • National
  • International


Indian Hawkers research

Associate Professor Dirk Spennemann is investigating  the lives (and deaths) of Indian hawkers in the Southern Riverina and North-East Victoria in the late 1900s and early 2000s.

Ageing research

Associate Professor Maree Bernoth is involved in a 12 month project funded by a NSW Family and Community Services “Liveable Communities” grant, to investigate  the inclusion of older people in the teaching of ageing with industry partner Naorina Village, Deniliquin.

Improving water supply

Institute Adjunct Professor Jay Punthakey is working on a project in the mid North coast of NSW looking at improving water supply to various coastal communities.

Effects of flooding on blackbox woodlands

Since 2014 Institute Adjunct Richard Loyn has been researching the effects of flooding on black box woodlands in North West Victoria for the Mallee CMA as part of the Living Murray Initiative. In 2017 the study was expanded  to include waterbirds and bush birds as part of a project with La Trobe University and MDRFC.

Building knowledge of country

As part of the ‘Building knowledge of Country and measuring its health’ project funded by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, ILWS and CSU's Faculty of Science, community workshops were held in Griffith, Deniliquin and Moama. hese information sessions provided an opportunity for CSU researchers and NPWS to meet with Indigenous communities and explore with them various aspects of Country and why environmental monitoring is important. These information sessions are the first in a three phase project and use rich pictures/mapping to understand how the communities interact with Country and see themselves working on Country into the future.

The second phase of the project will involve field sessions on Country, discussing particular environmental monitoring principles, ideas and exploring opportunities for future Indigenous environmental monitoring.

The third phase of the project will draw on these community exploration processes to co-develop training resources that equip communities for the aspects of environmental monitoring that they highlighted as important to them.

Proposed study of families

Professor of Rural Health, Linda Shields is involved in planning meetings to set up a longitudinal study of families living in rural areas. Partners of the proposed study will be CSU (lead), University of Sydney Rural Medical School and Notre Dame School of Rural Medicine. The study is being supported by the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy at UQ

Mistletoe in Melbourne's Parks

Professor Dave Watson is leading a project in Melbourne which is part of the City of Melbourne's long-term management plan for its land and assets. The city is running a world-first trial in which creeping mistletoe seeds have been planted on 27 plane trees in downtown Melbourne. Creeping mistletoe is one of the few Australian mistletoes that can live off exotic hosts such as plane trees. Dave's former Masters student, Mel Cook from UTS, is involved in the project.


Ecological character report

Dr Wayne Robinson has assisted the South Australia Government’s revised description of the ecological character of the Coorong, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar site with his report: Robinson, W. A. (2017) Setting refined waterbird LAC [Limits if Acceptable Change] for the Coorong, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar site. Technical Report to DEWNR. November 2017.

Fair trade agreements

Dr Richard Culas is working with a recipient of an Endeavour Post-Doc Fellowship on a project on Free Trade Agreements and their implications for Australian agricultural products trade and regional farm economies.

Economic impact

Dr Richard Culas is involved in a three year project (2018-2020) administered by the Graham Centre and funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia looking at the economic impact of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) on Australian horticultural (fruits and vegetables) crops.

Effects of climate change

Faculty of Science post doc, Dr James Turner, together with Associate Professor Dale Nimmo, has begun a three year study on how heat waves and diet affect folivorous mammals - the ringtail possum.

Frog disease research

Dr Geoffrey Heard is working on a project looking at the change in the lifespan of frogs as a result of chytrid invading Australia. Together with Dr Ben Scheele, from ANU, they have been ageing frogs using skeletochronology, where they count the growth rings in a cross-section of bone using contemporary samples of bell frogs as well as specimens in museums.

Standing stone Aboriginal heritage sites

Dr Jim Birckhead and eldersInstitute Adjunct Dr Jim Birckhead has begun a research project on an ethnography of standing stone Aboriginal heritage sites throughout the Pilbara and into the eastern desert areas of WA.The project is being funded through BHP's Heritage Research Division, Perth as part of  BHP's community outreach and obligations. It is being developed over a number of phases.

The first desktop/archival phase has been completed with the resulting report - Birckhead, J. & Czerwinski, P. (2017) Ethnography of Stone Arrangements, Unpublished report, 36 pp for BHP Heritage Research, Land Access Solutions/Heritage WA, Perth. The next phase is liaising with researchers in WA and Tasmania, and visits to communities across the Pilbara to identify senior Traditional Owners who have the knowledge of these stone arrangements and the authority to speak for them.

Once identified, Jim will visit these sites with the appropriate elders to record their stories and the meaning of these sites. The final phase is to write a report of the research and to prepare journal and other research works based on the research.

Gender Spaces of Social Work

Associate Professor Susan Mlcek, a social work educator and social scientist, heads a small research group at Bathurst within the School of Humanities & Social Sciences made up of herself, fellow ILWS member Dr Donna Bridges, a sociologist, and Dr John Healy, a social work educator.  The three are exploring gender and indigenous issues including the gender spaces of social work.

A small Faculty grant was used to employ a research assistant to assist them with a literature review. From that initial activity evolved a co-operative enquiry research activity, and a thematic analysis paper - 'What does it mean to be part of the gendered space(s) of social work?' Susan presented on the paper's topic at an international conference, New Directions in Humanities, in London in July.

Fauna Research Alliance

Charles Sturt University, through the Institute, is one of the institutional members of the FAUNA (Future-proofing Australasia's Unique Native Animals) Research Alliance, a network which connects researchers and conservation "end user" practitioners from 47 organisations. Projects involving Institute members include:

  • Rewilding Little Desert  (Professor David Watson)
  • Search for the Long-beaked echidna (Professor David Watson)

Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves

Dr Peter Spooner, who has had a long term interest in Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves is currently writing a book on the Historic Development of Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves, something he has been working on since 2015. Dr Terry Kass and Mr Iain Marshall from NSW Land and Property Information have been assisting him with the project. Honours student Bryce Vella began a project commencing mid 2017 aimed at exploring the gazettement history of Travelling Stock routes and Reserves in NSW. The project is co-supervised by Dr Prue Gonzalez from CSU's Port Macquarie campus.


Core Agriculture Support Program (CASP)

Institute Adjunct Dr Tony McDonald is a member of a multi-disciplinary team for a project which aims to offer small holder farmers across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) improved capacity to produce and market “clean and green” produce.The project is promoting the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement’s (IFOAM) “Participatory Guarantee System” approach, a method to promote voluntary compliance with organic protocols.The team have been working with small holder farmers across Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and the two southern provinces of PRC China.The broad strategy of CASP Phase II is to increase subregional agricultural competitiveness and agribusiness investment in the economic corridors.

Water governance regimes

Institute Adjunct Dr Patrick Cobbinah, who is with the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, is a member of the research team for the project Urban Growth, Neo Liberal Failures and Water Scarcity in Accra and Atlanta. The projec has received US$10,000 funding and is investigating water governance regimes in Atlanta (USA) and Accra (Ghana), two rapidly growing cities —one from the global North and the other from the global South—that share similar histories of neoliberal water governance failure.

Ecotourism in Ghana

Institute Adjunct Dr Patrick Cobbinah is involved in a long term on-going project - Conservation and livelihood - that examines environment-development relations in Africa focusing on Ghana. The first phase of the project (which received some financial support from the Institute for data collection) was Ecotourism in protected areas in Ghana: benefits for few, costs to many.

Impact of IPM on sweet potatoes

Dr Richard Culas is involved in an ACIAR funded and Graham Centre administered project (2017-2020) looking at the economic impact of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on sweet potato production in Papua New Guinea.

Call Playback research

Professor David Watson, together with Dr Mike Craig, University of WA, ILWS social scientist Dr Jennifer Bond and ILWS PhD student Liz Znidersic are investigating the "call playback" issue and whether or not the impact on birds is detrimental. Many birders use Apps on their Smartphones to help identify birds. However birders and guides are now using the App to try and attract birds so that they can have a look at them. While on a visit to Colombia in Latin America mid-year, Dave and Mike spent time out in the field in  with birding guides in the foothills of the Andes and found that they all used call playback.

Carbon emissions

Dryflux samplingDr Julia Howitt and Professor Max Finlayson are involved in a volunteer international research collaboration which is investigating the carbon emissions from dry wetland and river sediments around the world. The global dryflux investigation is led by a team in Germany.A standard sampling protocol is being used.

Others in the Australian team are Dr Jason Condon from the Graham Centre and Dr Catherine Leigh from Griffith University. The Australian team has done two rounds of sampling. During the week June 5 to 9, Drs Howitt, Condon and Leigh conducted measurements of carbon emissions in the Wagga region. In October, Dr Howitt and Professor Finlayson took 30 samples across 5 sites – the David Mitchell Wetlands on CSU's Albury-Wodonga campus, the Wonga Wetlands out of Albury near the Murray, and three sites at the Winton Wetlands near Benalla in Victoria - over two days.

The CSU samples are the only ones from Australia and are included in samples collected from more than 225 sites in 17 countries on 6 continents.