Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Data Archive

Staff Profile - Ryan Stoker

My name is Ryan Stoker. I work as a seconded Digital Preservation Officer for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA) at UTS.

I am a descendent of the Wiradjuri people of Dubbo, NSW – from the Riley and McGuiness families. However I was born and raised in Southern Sydney for most of my life. I am also a 3rd year student of UTS studying a Bachelors of Communications Information and Media.



Before working at UTS with the ATSIDA project I worked as an Apprentice Chef at a seafood restaurant in Sydney in 2008. Unfortunately cooking wasn’t meant for me and I began my library career at Hurstville Library Museum and Gallery as a customer service assistant from 2009.  I was introduced to UTS library by one of the support staff members and began work as a Collections Maintenance Officer in 2010.

I was first introduced to the ATSIDA project through one of my Tutors as part of an assignment to investigate a professional workplace. After having a chat with Kirsten, the Project Manager and Elizabeth, the Digital Preservation Officer (DPO), fuelled my interest in the digital archives and curation field.  I regularly visited the team after my project and kept regular tabs on how the project was coming along. Early this year I was approached by Kirsten who was looking for someone to work under secondment for the role of DPO whilst Elizabeth was working on another project.

ATSIDA is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Data Archive and is one of the ‘nodes’ of the Australian Social Sciences Data Archive ASSDA (to be rebranded as the Australian Data Archive (ADA) in August).  We provide a trusted repository for researchers to deposit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research data. In addition we also provide access for researchers, communities and the general public to access to research data through our website (http://atsida.edu.au/). My role as the DPO is to find ways of preserving data deposited to us as well as work with researchers on how to effective manage their own research data. I also take part in digitising physical objects if we receive those as well as manage the datasets that are deposited. 


I find working with ATSIDA to be a very interesting and challenging experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research data whilst taking into account the cultural sensitivities and protocols behind it. One of our main focuses is to repatriate data to communities where possible through our website.  For instance we are currently working with the Macleay Museum at Sydney University to digitise and make accessible Yolŋu bark paintings as well as gain more information on each painting from the community.

The most rewarding experience about my job is the opportunity is working with a nationwide project, as well as expanding my knowledge of digital preservation and the management of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data. I also feel that it’s very important to be able to allow for communities to be able to access and engage with research data that has been done on them as well as preserving the histories, stories and knowledge for future generations.