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At a time when there is concerted effort to recognise the rightful place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Australian Constitution, we also need concerted public support to secure Australia’s Indigenous heritage – these are intertwined.
Professor Michael (Mick) Dodson, AM, was born in Katherine in the Northern Territory. He is a Yawuru man, traditional owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Professor Dodson was educated in Katherine, Darwin and Victoria. He completed a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws at Melbourne’s Monash University in 1974 and was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from law in Australia.
Professor Dodson also holds an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Technology Sydney, an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of New South Wales and received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Canberra, in recognition of his contribution to human rights, social justice and Indigenous affairs in Australia and around the world.
Professor Dodson is the Chairperson of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University (ANU), a professor of law at the ANU College of Law and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.
From August 1988 to October 1990, Professor Dodson was Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In April 1993 he was appointed Australia’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).
Professor Dodson is a prominent advocate on issues affecting Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as other Indigenous peoples of the world. He was Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Group for the Voluntary Fund for the Decade of Indigenous Peoples and in January 2005, was appointed a member to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Professor Dodson participated in the crafting of the text of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), and the Inter-sessional Working Group of the Human Rights Commission. In 2007, the declaration was adopted overwhelmingly by the United Nations General Assembly.
From September 2011 to February 2012, Professor Dodson attended Harvard University where he was the Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam Harvard Chair in Australian Studies and a Visiting Professor, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
Professor Mick Dodson’s contribution and service to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities were recognised in January 2003 when he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2009, he was the Australian of the Year.