Sian Graham – an inspiring journey through research

Sian Graham is an Indigenous woman born and raised in Darwin, her family are from One Arm Point (Bardi/Jawi) in the Kimberley and the Balladong (Noongar) area in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia. She has lived and worked in remote communities throughout the Northern Territory and Western Australia. 

Sian initially started at Menzies in an administration role, in 2009.  This role inspired her to pursue a research career as she found she had a wealth of knowledge, connections and skills, but no formal qualifications. 

“My journey through the research world has been a very long but interesting path. Over time working within research, moving across different projects, I found myself being equipped with a toolkit which has now supported my development as a researcher.”

With this in mind, she undertook a Certificate IV in Indigenous Research Capacity Building, which she completed in 2013. A year later, Sian commenced a Bachelor of Applied Science in Indigenous Community Health at Curtin University, WA and graduated in 2017.

In 2015, Sian began working with The Northern Territory (NT) & Far North Queensland (FNQ) Diabetes in Pregnancy (DIP) Partnership. This work presented her with the opportunity to undertake qualitative research conducting in-depth interviews with women who had diabetes in pregnancy.

“This was a lightbulb moment for me where I realised that this is what I am meant to be doing – qualitative research. Creating a space that enables Indigenous people voices to be heard in research.”

During 2018 Sian completed her Honours degree (Bachelor of Applied Science Indigenous Australian Research) at Curtin University. Sian’s research looked at exploring the role of the Indigenous Reference Group in the Northern Territory & Far North Queensland Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership - NT & FNQ Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership.

“As an Indigenous Researcher I have built and maintained strong relationships and networks within urban and remote communities in the Top End. I am dedicated and committed to working towards improving health outcomes for Indigenous people. I believe that it is my responsibility as an Indigenous researcher, to advocate for Indigenous people and their rights. I believe Indigenous people have to play an imperative role in research, and we need to work together collaboratively to ensure Indigenous people have an opportunity to provide input into the direction of our research.”

So, what’s next for Sian?

“I am planning on taking 12 months off to allow time to recover from completing an Honours degree, which was quite intense and a lot of hard work. However, in the future I am looking to enrol in the Menzies Graduate Diploma in Public Health and potentially a PhD down the track based on my honours work, looking more in-depth at the Indigenous Reference Group or something similar in this space.”