Personal profile


Rachel is a historian of indigenous societies and race relations histories in Australia and New Zealand. Her work explores cross cultural encounters and the agency of indigenous peoples as they encountered Europeans on their country, as well as exploring the ways those encounters are encoded in colonial sources and national histories.

In addition to her academic work, Rachel has experience as a researcher and policy officer, particularly in the field of public policy and Indigenous rights, where she was employed in the area of human rights and international activism at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, in the Commonwealth public service and with the National Union of Students, as well as working as part of teaching and learning projects in university contexts.

Research interests

Comparative and connected Indigenous histories, histories of racial thought, Aboriginal and Australian histories, Maori and New Zealand histories

Research interests

I am a historian of colonialism and the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Australia and New Zealand. My work investigates ideas about race and how they were applied to diverse communities, the impact of protection policies and humanitarianism, histories of human and Indigenous rights, and the response and agency of Indigenous communities to the presence of colonists on their country.

My specific research strengths are:

1)      working with archival material to unlock and interpret material written by non-Indigenous authors for evidence of Indigenous perspectives and practices.

2)      comparative historical research into colonialism and racial thought that remains sensitive to the unique cultures and experiences of diverse Indigenous communities.

3)      understanding the impact that studying Indigenous Studies has on students and their views about Australian society.

I have worked with community members, in collaborative teams with Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, and across disciplines to explore issues of importance to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous societies, including Indigenous leadership, experiences of mobility and health. Prior to my academic work, I worked in policy positions in the Commonwealth government, the National Union of Students and universities, and thus my scholarship brings an emphasis on the connection between research and policy or other practical outcomes. Through a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach, my research aims to provide insight into how historical experience resonates into contemporary societies. A committed and engaged teacher, I am interested in exploring the impact of studying and learning on student understandings of their society and student commitment to social justice. More specifically my research expertise can deliver

1)      advice for State and Commonwealth Governments on Indigenous policy and the connection between historical policies and contemporary social outcomes.

2)      assistance for Indigenous communities or organisations on accessing and working with archival data.

3)      advice to primary and secondary educators and/or education departments or institutions on teaching on social justice and Indigenous issues to non-Indigenous students.


  • Aboriginal history
  • Australian History
  • Maori history
  • New Zealand history
  • Race relations
  • Racial thought

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2016 2019

Research Output 2004 2018

Indigenous mobilities: Across and Beyond the Antipodes

Standfield, R. V. 2017 (Accepted/In press) Aboriginal History Incorporated.

Research output: Book/ReportEdited Book

"The Old People had brooms": Yanyuwa women, material culture and resistance

Hill, B. C. R., Bradley, J. J. & Standfield, R. V. 2017 In : Studies in Arts and Humanities. 3, 2, p. 102-126 25 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

'Thus have been preserved numerous interesting facts that would otherwise have been lost': Colonisation, protection and William Thomas's contribution to the Aborigines of Victoria

Standfield, R. V. 2015 Settler Colonial Governance in Nineteenth-Century Victoria. Boucher, L. & Russell, L. (eds.). Acton ACT Australia: ANU E Press, p. 47 - 62 16 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)

Activities 2011 2019

  • 4 Contribution to workshop, seminar, course
  • 2 Editorial responsibility
  • 1 Contribution to conference
  • 1 Public lecture/debate/seminar

The La Trobe Journal (Journal)

Standfield, R. V. (Guest editor), Faulkhead, S. (Guest editor)
Mar 2019

Activity: Editorial responsibility

Australian Historical Association Conference

Standfield, R. V. (Speaker)
4 Jul 2017

Activity: Contribution to conference

Labour lines: Indigenous and Pacific Islander experiences of labour mobility in Australia

Standfield, R. V. (Invited speaker), Michael Stevens (Invited speaker)
22 Jun 2017

Activity: Contribution to workshop, seminar, course

Sovereignty, Space and Mobility in Settler Colonial Studies

Standfield, R. V. (Invited speaker), Michael Stevens (Invited speaker)
21 Sep 2017

Activity: Contribution to workshop, seminar, course

Connecting Indigenous Histories – Scholarship in and on Australia, New Zealand, and the United States

Standfield, R. V. (Invited speaker)
30 Mar 2016

Activity: Contribution to workshop, seminar, course