La Trobe is helping create a just and sustainable future

Our research confronts some of the most pressing challenges facing human societies across our mobile, diverse and changing world: human rights, migration, sustainable development, Indigenous issues, gender and sexuality, rapid economic and political change, and technology and its disruptions.

Our work gets to the heart of the causes, impacts and outcomes of transformations in human societies. We help communities understand the mistakes and successes of the past and create a more just and sustainable future.

La Trobe combines a long-standing commitment to understanding national and global problems. Our public intellectuals have an enduring social conscience and our knowledge and our practice transforms public policy and its delivery.

Director's welcome

A welcome from our Director, Professor Lawrie Zion.

Vision and goals

We hope to contribute to understanding the origins, history, drivers and impacts of human migration, mobility, cultural change and social transformation.

Executive committee

The background of our executive committee.

Advisory board

A snapshot of the advisory board.

Research members

Meet our research and student members.

Multicultural Victoria

Victoria's residents come from over 200 countries. Many have settled here, found work, had families and enriched our community. Researchers with Transforming Human Societies are using La Trobe's regional footprint to explore the diversity of Victoria's regional communities and the challenges they face. A better understanding of tolerance and diversity will help strengthen the social fabric of the Australian community.

Dr Anthony Moran is investigating the lessons we can learn from the multicultural story of Shepparton. He is examining at the strategies and resources that are needed for the long-term sustainability of social cohesiveness in Shepparton.

Drs Jennifer Jones and Charles Fahey are looking into the multicultural history of Bendigo. They are examining key sites, objects and experiences to discover how religious and racial differences have been negotiated in the regional city in both the past and the present.

In the Robinvale and Mildura areas Professor Helen Lee is exploring the ways different types of visas affect members of the Pacific Islander communities: their access to public services, their relationships with their own communities and other ethnic groups. The research will inform policy making to address problems faced by migrant groups in rural areas of Victoria.

Read the Understanding Social Cohesion in Shepparton and Mildura: Final Report [PDF 1.5MB]

Uncovering ancient Australian secrets

Fossilised remains are providing evidence of Indigenous Australians living in what is now north-western Victoria up to 40,000 years ago.

Dr Jillian Garvey is undertaking a major Indigenous archaeology project at Neds Corner Station, on the Murray River, where generations of people gathered to feast on fish and animals living in and around the river. With qualifications in both archaeology and zoology, Dr Garvey draws on her international experience to examine the ancient remains of animals to learn more about human habitation in the late Quaternary period.

Further excavations will help Dr Garvey develop new insights into the life of ancient peoples living in the area and learn exactly when they first inhabited the area.

Adapting to a changing environment

Ensuring an environmentally sustainable future is one of the key challenges facing Australia. It is imperative that we understand the ways humans have, in the past, adapted to significant changes in their environments, and what they have done to address human-induced environmental change.

A team of researchers led by Professor Katie Holmes is examining the Mallee lands of southern Australia and asking: how have generations of Indigenous and settler-Australians shaped the climate and landscape of the Mallee lands? How have they adapted to changing environments and what can we learn from their experiences?


  • Maritime Union of Australia
    Collaborative research in international labour networks
  • National Library of Australia
    Collaborative research in histories of everyday life
  • Australia China Relations Institute
    ANZUS conflict in the East China sea
  • Heritage Victoria
    Supporting archaeological research
  • Victorian Multicultural Commission
    Research in refugees settlement in regional Victoria
Staff only: Find out more about Transforming Human Societies (La Trobe intranet - staff login required)