Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity welcomes 2022 cohort

Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity
The new Fellows come from a range of backgrounds and sectors, including finance, education, policy, health and environment.

Twenty-one Fellows from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand with a background in Indigenous social change have been selected for the 2022 Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) program, based at the University of Melbourne.

The new Fellows come from a range of backgrounds and sectors, including finance, education, policy, health and environment. The cohort is majority Indigenous and includes 14 Fellows in Australia and 7 in Aotearoa New Zealand.

One of seven Atlantic Fellows hubs around the world, the Melbourne hub focuses on Indigenous social equity. The other hubs in Africa, Asia, the UK and US focus on economic, health and racial equity.

The program begins with a foundation year where Fellows develop a social change project while completing a postgraduate qualification in social change leadership. This is followed by lifelong fellowship and membership in the global Atlantic Fellows community.

Professor Elizabeth McKinley, Executive Director of AFSE and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, welcomed the new cohort.

“We are delighted to welcome another strong cohort of social change-makers from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand,’’ Professor McKinley said. “They join a growing community of Fellows who are working for better outcomes in Indigenous communities and organisations.”

Professor Shaun Ewen, Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), spoke about the change the new Fellows will deliver.

“The 2022 Fellows come together at an exceptional time in human history. As we (hopefully) emerge from the depths of the pandemic, these Fellows will be a group of people who help create and shape our societies for years to come,’’ Professor Ewen said. “I look forward to watching and hearing about their achievements and influence in the coming months and years.”

The new Fellows are passionate about restoring Indigenous culture and knowledge, and empowering Indigenous communities for generations to come.

“I believe speaking our languages, having access to country and practising culture is the cornerstone to our identity, health and well-being as Indigenous people,” said Christian Lugnan, an Aboriginal Fellow who will be developing a program to connect Goori kids to country.

“I see this fellowship connecting me with transformative individuals in a global movement to bring Indigenous knowledge back to our communities, for us and for the generations after us,” said Holly Weir-Tikao, a Māori Fellow working on Māori health workforce development.

Fellows will be working to develop a range of social change projects over the course of their foundation year to improve Indigenous social equity.

“This fellowship is an opportunity for me to explore approaches towards dismantling the homophobic structural barriers we face as First Nations sex, sexuality, and gender minority group members from within our communities,” said Dameyon Bonson, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellow who is working to improve health, well-being and opportunities for these groups.

This is the fourth cohort since the program started in 2018. The 2022 cohort join 49 AFSE alumni and a community of 900 Atlantic Fellows around the world, which will grow to more than 2500 fellows by 2036.

The Atlantic Fellows programs around the world are funded by a $US660 million commitment from The Atlantic Philanthropies. Established by American/Irish businessman Chuck Feeney, the co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, the foundation has given away $US8 billion over the course of Mr Feeney’s lifetime, largely anonymously.

Information on the 2022 cohort of AFSE Fellows can be found at

Applications for the 2023 program will open for Indigenous and non-Indigenous applicants committed to advancing Indigenous-led social equity in mid-2022.