Professor Mick Dodson AM

NCIS Director

Key roles

  • Director – NCIS
  • Regional Pacific Representative – United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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  • Australian of the Year 2009 – National Australia Day Council

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  • Council Chair – Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies

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Publications (PDF 280.83KB)


Professor Mick Dodson AM is a member of the Yawuru peoples – the traditional owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at The Australian National University and Professor of law at the ANU College of Law.

Professor Dodson is also currently a Director of Dodson, Bauman & Associates Pty Ltd – Legal & Anthropological Consultants. He is formerly the Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales, Kensington.

Mick Dodson was Australia's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner with the Human Rights Commission. He served as Commissioner from April 1993 to January 1998.

L – R: UC Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Parker, Mick Dodson and UC Chancellor, Prof. Ingrid Moses; 5 November 2010. (Photo: Daniel Walding, AIATSIS)

Born in Katherine in the Northern Territory, Mick was educated in Katherine, Darwin and Victoria. He completed a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws at Monash University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Technology Sydney in 1998, and an honorary Doctor of the University from the University of Canberra (YouTube video 1:37) in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to human rights, social justice and Indigenous affairs in Australia and around the world. Professor Mick Dodson highlighted the importance of having high expectations of Indigenous students when accepting an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra.

Professor Dodson also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of NSW. He worked with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service from 1976 to 1981, when he became a barrister at the Victorian Bar. He joined the Northern Land Council as Senior Legal Adviser in 1984 and became Director of the Council in 1990.

From August 1988 to October 1990, Mick was Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He has been a member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Advisory Council and secretary of the North Australian Legal Aid Service. He is the current Chair of Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and is also a member of AIATSIS. He is the former Chairman of the National Aboriginal Youth Law Centre Advisory Board, and has been a member of the National Children's & Youth Centre Board and the advisory panels of the Rob Riley and Koowarta Scholarships. Mick is a member of the Publications Committee for the University of New South Wales' Australian Indigenous Law Review (formerly called the Australian Indigenous Law Reporter), and is on the Editorial Board of Australian Aboriginal Studies. He is a member of the New South Wales Judicial Commission and a former special commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia. He is Chair of the ANU Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Committee and a member of the Board of the Lingiari Foundation. He served on the board of Reconciliation Australia and was, until recently, its Co-Chair. He was a founding member and chairman of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

Mick Dodson has been a prominent advocate on land rights and other issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as a vigorous advocate of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. He was the Co-Deputy Chair of the Technical Committee for the 1993 International Year of the World's Indigenous People and was chairman of the United Nations Advisory Group for the Voluntary Fund for the Decade of Indigenous Peoples. He served for 5 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Indigenous Voluntary Fund and in January 2005, commenced a 3-year appointment as a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He was subsequently reappointed for a further 3 years to December 2010.

Mick 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 which was adopted overwhelmingly in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly.

In 2009, Mick Dodson was named Australian of the Year by the National Australia Day Council.

From September 2011 to February 2012 inclusive, Professor Dodson was at Harvard University where he was the Malcolm Fraser & Gough Whitlam Harvard Chair in Australian Studies and a Visiting Professor, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. He was based at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy in the John F Kennedy School of Government.

Updated:  10 June 2015/ Responsible Officer:  NCIS Project Coordinator/ Page Contact:  NCIS Administrative Officer