Dr Indigo Willing* (she/her) is a sociologist, research consultant and community volunteer. She currently lives in Meanjin on the land of the Jagera and Turrbal Peoples. Her theoretical and empirical work examines issues of power, social change and representation. Her research and community work creates bridges between academia and community sectors, and spans a number of social worlds that reflect her own diverse background and lived experiences as a Vietnam War orphan and adoptee, an Asian Australian creative, academic and skateboarder involved with inclusive community building projects.
Read more about her: CV / writing / talks / media and summaries of her work in adoption, skateboarding and Asian Australian community below including with Adopted Vietnamese International, Consent is Rad and We Skate QLD, and the Asian Australian Films, Forum and News Network (also see the menu for full details on each including relevant links and lists of publications).
*former post-nominal OAM for being awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2006 for her volunteer with adopted Vietnamese children from the war / refugee generation and founding the Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) community. Indigo returned it as a stance of support with LGBTQ+ and First Nations communities in 2021.
Summaries of Research and Community Work
Adoption Research and Community Work:
Indigo began life in a Vietnamese orphanage before being adopted to an Australian family during the Vietnam War and exists within a unique group in the diaspora that falls between the 1st and 2nd Vietnamese refugee generation. As an adult, she was also awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2006 for her volunteer work as founder of the Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) community. Indigo returned it as a stance of support with LGBTQ+ and First Nations communities in 2021. AVI was founded in April 2000 on the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam War and for over 20 years has run various initiatives to keep adopted Vietnamese feel connected with their history and each other. Over the years this has included curating and presenting adoptees’ personal narratives, organising occasions to meet other adoptees in the US, Australia and Vietnam, doing online archiving and keeping a FB forum available that is used by members weekly to share orphanage and searching for lost relatives information and other relevant topics. From 2022 to 2025 she hopes to gain time and support to work on updating the AVI website, doing more Vietnam War research (particularly on films and musicals) and collecting stories for the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Other activities relating to adoption that Indigo has been involved with include public speaking and education seminars, volunteering her time as a skateboarding coach for the Move and Shake program by the Adoptee Lighthouse group in QLD focused on teenage adoptees, coordinating a touring adoptee film festival, and various consultancy projects. One of her recent roles was as a reader for a Canadian theatrical and creative work that has themes of adoption. From August – October 2021 Indigo joined a team of Vietnamese Australians led by Oakley Kwon to create a Go Fund and FB campaign to assist fellow Vietnamese adoptee My Huong Le’s Covid-19 Relief Program to buy food packages in Vietnam for locals in her area during extended lockdowns. The Australian-based team’s fundraising efforts raised over $16,000 to go towards sharing food packages and other essential relief items.
With an established academic profile in transnational adoption, Indigo’s research publications include co-written peer reviewed articles in Social Policy and Society, British Journal of Social Work, Michigan Quarterly Review, various book chapters and an edited collection in 2020 with Jenny Wills and Tobias Hubinette published by University of Michigan Press. Indigo also writes about broader issues of migration, adoption, families and transnationalism (such as in Mobilities, Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, Journal of Sociology and Journal of Australian Studies).
Read more about her adoption work and research here
Skateboarding, Sports Research and Community Work:
With a drive to push open boundaries and to defy stereotypes, Indigo is also a skateboarder and dedicated volunteer within the skate community. She is a co-founder of the We Skate QLD skateboarding network (founded in 2016 and previously known as Girls Skate Brisbane). The We Skate QLD group – currently with a team of five – holds monthly skate meet ups around Brisbane, skate art workshops and exhibitions, and an annual Spring Jam skate competition that is open to all ages, stages of skating and genders. The Spring Jam also provides opportunities for people who are women, non binary and gender diverse individuals to not only gain competition experience but also gain training in the roles of MCs, event coordinators, skate coaching, photography, video-making and competition judging. Current members include Indigo, Evie Ryder, Tora Waldren, Lily Turek and Millie Miljevic.
Indigo is also the project leader and co-founder of Consent is Rad, an international campaign that she launched in 2019 at the Pushing Boarders skate conference in Malmo, Sweden. The Consent is Rad was co-founded by both the Pushing Boarders and We Skate QLD teams. The project focuses on promoting cultures of consent and resources on sexual violence prevention in skateboarding scenes globally. In 2021 the Consent is Rad project was linked to Thrasher Magazine as a resource and was part of ‘Break the Cycle’, a collaborative campaign co-written by an international team of advisors and writers including Kava Garcia Vasquez, Manu Barbier, Prof. Kyle Beachy. and Indigo. The Break the Cycle campaign has run in Thrasher Magazine (USA), Free Skate Magazine (Europe), Slam Skateboarding (Australia), Grass Fires Magazine (Australia), Solo Magazine (Germany), The Skateboarders Companion (UK) and Skateism (Europe). In November 2021 Indigo was also awarded 2nd place in the Exposure Skate Rising Awards in the USA for her work as project leader of Consent is Rad.
Another key activity that Indigo is involved with in skateboarding is in academic research and writing. She has published articles in peer reviewed international academic journals (Sociology, Sport in Society, Young Nordic Journal), in an edited collection by K J Lombard (Routledge) and in more accessible, free to access online skate media (Yeah Girl, Quell Magazine and Two Set Zine). Her research has also been featured in Jenkem Magazine and in various interviews, podcasts and online media. Indigo is also co-authoring a book Skateboarding, Power and Change with Anthony Pappalardo due in 2022 (under contract). Her research combines insights from the sociology of youth cultures and subcultures, multi-generational participation in lifestyle sports, studies of gender and violence prevention, and video and visual research.
Read more about her skateboarding work and research here
Asian Australian Work in the Creative Industries:
Drawing upon her earlier years as a performing arts graduate and studies in communications and film, Indigo has also co-chaired several film festivals and video-making workshops for adoptees, multicultural and Asian Australian communities, and is the co-founder of the Asian Australian Films, Forum and Network (AAFFN) which has been running since 2011.
Read more about her work in the Asian Australian community work and writing here
Indigo was awarded a PhD in sociology from The University of Queensland and is a former Rockefeller Fellow, UMASS, Boston, recipient of a Yale University SEAS conference travel grant, an Australian Academy of the Humanities Traveling Fellow scholarship recipient to Sweden and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow for an Australian Research Council Discovery Project. She has also been awarded a number of grants to do research. As a lecturer, she teaches in the areas of sociology, criminology, creative industries and qualitative research methods. She is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and an affiliate member of the Griffith Sport and Gender Equity Network (SAGE) and member of Gender Equality Research Network (GERN) at Griffith University.
Read her academic CV here