Atlantic Fellow to Deliver Children’s Program in Gumbaynggirr

Christian Lugnan, a Fellow with the Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity program.

LOCAL legend Christian Lugnan has been awarded one of twenty one fellowships across Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Mr Lugnan and the other recipients of the 2022 Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) program, based at the University of Melbourne all have a background in Indigenous social change. 


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Mr Lugnan’s social project is a children’s yoga and meditation wellbeing program in Gumbaynggirr language.

“My social project is developing a health and well being program all in Gumbaynggirr for our kids at the Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School which is opening next year.”

Mr Lugnan has a passion for health and well-being, language and culture. 

“The purpose of the program is to instill in our children the connection between the country of the land they live and learn on (Gumbaynggirr) and their physical well-being. 

“The normalisation in the use of traditional language in the health and well-being practices will enhance the children’s sense of belonging to Country and enable a strong Aboriginal identity,” he told News Of The Area.

“Apart from the benefits of an immersive Gumbaynggirr teaching and learning environment the children will be taught self awareness, mindfulness and how to lead a balanced lifestyle. 

“The impacts of the program will be monitored, measured and evaluated to ensure objectives are being met,” he said. “The World Happiness Report will be a guiding principles and measurement document along with the insights of other First Nations practitioners in Australia and internationally.”

He is looking forward to the fellowship for the formal education and connections with like minded people also working in the Indigenous social change space.

“I haven’t studied for years, so I am really excited for the opportunity to do some learning,” he added.

The new Fellows come from a range of backgrounds and sectors, including finance, education, policy, health and environment. 

The cohort is majority Indigenous and includes fourteen Fellows based in Australia and seven based in Aotearoa New Zealand.

One of seven Atlantic Fellows hubs around the world, the Melbourne hub focuses on Indigenous social equity. 

The other hubs in Africa, Asia, the UK and US focus on economic, health and racial equity.

The program begins with a foundation year where Fellows develop their social change project while completing a postgraduate qualification in social change leadership. 

This is followed by lifelong fellowship and membership in the global Atlantic Fellows community.

Elizabeth McKinley, Executive Director of AFSE and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, welcomed the new cohort.

“We are delighted to welcome another strong cohort of social change-makers from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“They join a growing community of Fellows who are working for better outcomes in Indigenous communities and organisations.”

Professor Shaun Ewen, Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous), spoke about the change the new Fellows will deliver.

“The 2022 Fellows come together at an exceptional time in human history.

“As we (hopefully) emerge from the depths of the pandemic, these Fellows will be a group of people who help create and shape our societies for years to come,” he said.

“I look forward to watching and hearing about their achievements and influence in the coming months and years.”

The new Fellows are passionate about restoring Indigenous culture and knowledge, and empowering Indigenous communities for generations to come.

“I believe speaking our languages, having access to Country and practising culture is the cornerstone to our identity, health and well-being as Indigenous people,” said Mr Lugnan.


By Sandra MOON


Mr Lugnan will develop a meditation and yoga program for kids in Gumbaynggirr.

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