The Pacific Role Models online resource is based on research conducted in Australia by researchers from the Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University and the Social & Global Studies Centre, RMIT University in partnership with the Pacific Islander Network and the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council, with support from the Scanlon Foundation.
Makiko Nishitani (Project Lead Investigator)
Makiko Nishitani is an anthropologist working at La Trobe University. A migrant from Japan, she spent part of her childhood in Kenya, which led to a lifelong interest in the experiences of children growing up in different cultures. Makiko has worked with various Pacific community members in Victoria for over 10 years. Her publications include a book based on her PhD research called Desire, Obligation, and Familial Love: Mothers, Daughters, and Communication Technology in the Tongan Diaspora (2020, University of Hawai’i Press). Makiko is married to a Tongan Australian man with whom she has two children. She later discovered that her husband is related to Kate’s husband, a reminder of how Pacific kinship networks are vast and can connect people all over the world. She is passionate about applying anthropological skills to assist community groups in achieving their goals.
Kate Johnston-Ataata (Project Co-investigator)
Kate Johnston-Ataata is a settler Australian of Scottish, English, and Scandinavian descent who lives and works on Woiwurrung land (Melbourne). Her husband is Tongan and together they have two children and a busy extended family network which includes Makiko’s family. Kate’s PhD at Monash University explored experiences of partnering and parenting in intercultural Tongan-European Australian relationships. She now works as a sociologist at the Centre of Social and Global Studies at RMIT University. Apart from the Pacific Role Models Website project, Kate’s research focuses on health and illness experiences and using these to develop public online resources through her involvement with Healthtalk Australia. Foundational to all of Kate’s work is her strong commitment to ensuring research has direct community benefits, and her growing interest in research that is co-designed with end-users.
Ane Tupou Fifita (Research Assistant)
Ane Tupou Fifita is a second-generation Tongan Australian who grew up in regional Victoria. She is currently studying at La Trobe University, working for a local council and as a research assistant at La Trobe, and serving as the Vice President for Pacific Connections Inc. Ane is passionate about working with Pasifika diasporas in Australia, advocating for greater support infrastructure and resources to enable Pasifika communities to excel and prosper. She also provides facilitation and advisory support to organisations running education programs in the Pacific region, and mentors young refugee and migrant people through the Employment Empowers Program at the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
Susannah Ostojic (Research Assistant)
Susannah Ostojic is a settler Australian of British and Serbian descent, living on Wurrundjeri-Woiwrrung land in Naarm (Melbourne). Her maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were missionaries in Tonga, based in principalship at Tupou College, and her great-aunt Pesi Wood authored the biography of Queen Sālote Tupou III. Both her mother and grandmother are Tongan born, and her family maintains their connection with the Tongan diaspora through church, archival research, and friendship. Susannah is currently a PhD candidate in Anthropology at La Trobe University, and her research explores young women’s engagement with, or disengagement from, kastom practice and knowledge in Pentecost, Vanuatu. She is a sessional tutor and research assistant at La Trobe and co-convenes a seminar series on the decolonization of social research.
This project is funded by the Scanlon Foundation. We express our appreciation to the funding recipient, the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council, for entrusting us with this project and the collaboration with the Pacific Islander Network.
Thanks and acknowledgements
We would like to thank the 25 people who shared their stories in the interview study. The rich experiences and information on this website have been possible only because of the generosity of the project participants. While the survey is still ongoing, we also extend our thanks to the many people who have participated so far.
We are also grateful to the Pacific Islander Network and its members for providing us with a platform to share these stories and taking the time to give us feedback over the course of the research and online resource development.
Many thanks to Emeritus Professor Helen Lee who led the previous projects with the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council. Helen has provided us with invaluable advice and encouragement throughout the project.
We would also like to acknowledge Healthtalk Australia and the DIPEx International community. Elements of the approach to the research and layout of this online resource draw on their approach to conducting qualitative health narrative research and producing online health experience resources.
Finally, thanks to Crosswalk Media for producing the Pacific Role Models online resource and their expertise and advice throughout this process.