Past Monica Clare Fellows

The Monica Clare Research Fellowship is awarded annually to people who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, with the purpose to research, explore and create new knowledge about Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures using the John Oxley Library and State Library’s significant collections and resources.  The fellowship recipient receives a stipend of $15,000, a personal work space within the Neil Roberts Research Lounge for 12 months and premium access to State Library’s extensive collections and library staff expertise. 

2021 Monica Clare Research Fellow, Rachel West-Captain.

The 2021 Monica Clare Research Fellowship was awarded to Rachel West-Captain for her project - A Murruwarri Family of South West Queensland and North West New South Wales - The 'West & Captain' Family - Aboriginal History Research.

Rachel explains her project:

"I believe a purpose in my life is to preserve and tell my Aboriginal family history. The West and Captain Family of Goodooga, A Murruwarri family from South West Qld, North West NSW. My Grandmother Joan Margaret West’s painful story, having her entire family of 12 children stolen from her. Suffering crippling and debilitating control at the hands of Government.

This began shortly after my Great Grandfather Bindi West, and my Great Grandmother Terrisa Captain passed on, in 1964. They died within 3 days of each other, aged in their 70’s.

I found my Aboriginal family in 2016, aged 31. (I was adopted).

All I ever wanted was to draw my family tree. My Real Family.

It’s a big one and I can’t wait to share it with you. I hope I can help many other families with my extensive research, which stretches over 5 years; another 5 to go. My book will be published in 2025."


Dr Fiona Foley, Monica Clare Research Fellow 2020

The 2020 Monica Clare Research Fellowship was awarded to Dr Fiona Foley for her projects:

  1. Bogimbah Creek Mission: The First Aboriginal Experiment
  2. The Magna Carta Tree.

There are few historical records or photographic archives pertaining to the 52 Badtjala people taken from Maryborough to K’gari (Fraser Island) by Archibald Meston. This group of people taken and relocated under The Aboriginals Protection and the Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897 formed the basis of the first experiment.

Dr Foley's project focused on two outcomes during her Fellowship - a publication of essays and documentary photographs on site during the process of making my new photographic series titled, The Magna Carta Tree. The publication will have the title, Bogimbah Creek Mission: The First Aboriginal Experiment.

In the words of Raymond Evans he sums up the lack of research in this area when he writes, “in attempting to investigate the Bogimbah Creek Reserve on Fraser Island and the Aboriginal ‘inmates’ relocated, one is immediately struck by the almost total silence of Australian historians on this significant segregative experiment.” There is a need to bring this hidden history to the fore whether it is a publication or photographs. The Badtjala people are missing from this Queensland narrative.

Badtjala is also spelt Butchulla.



Research Reveals: Bogimbah Creek Mission: The First Aboriginal Experiment: book launch by Fiona Foley.

Research Reveals is a talk series showcasing research projects of the 2020 Queensland Memory Awards fellows, residents and award winners. Gain a unique insight into Queensland history and the collections of the John Oxley Library in this series of fascinating talks.

Photographs from Fiona's Research Reveals event can be found on State Library's Flickr corporate account. 

2020 Monica Clare Research Fellow, Dr Fiona Foley talks about the 2022 Queensland Memory Awards, her research project and what it's like being a State Library fellow.