Professor Mick Dodson AM
Australian of the Year 2009, National Australia Day Council (NADC)
Each year, the Australian nation celebrates the achievement and contribution of eminent Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards. Professor Mick Dodson AM was named Australian of the Year 2009.
The ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies congratulates its Director, Professor Mick Dodson AM, for having been named Australian of the Year 2009.
Professor Dodson has been an advocate for Indigenous rights, human rights and social justice for the better part of his life. His dedication has attracted national and international acclaim. In many instances, he has played an instrumental role in events of historic importance in Australia and globally. Like others driven by passion, he works tirelessly and sometimes at great personal sacrifice. Above all, he is a humanitarian.
Some of Professor Dodson's accomplishments read like milestones in Australian history: he was the first Indigenous lawyer admitted to the Victorian Bar and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner; he participated in drafting the federal Native Title Act (1993), the legislative expression of native title rights recognised in the watershed Mabo case; he was a pivotal part of the 'Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody' and the 'Bringing Them Home Report', both of which remain highly influential documents that triggered legal reform, heralded a shift in the nation's awareness of its past and led to an acknowledgement (and recently a formal prime ministerial apology) for the policies of forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.
Australian of the Year Award presentation
The Award was presented to Professor Dodson at the Australian of the Year Awards ceremony on Australia Day eve, 25 January 2009, by the then-Prime Minister of Australian, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, and the NADC Chair, Mr Adam Gilchrist AM.
Professor Dodson's acceptance speech
Address to the National Press Club, 18 February 2009
At the invitation of the National Press Club, Professor Dodson spoke of his sincere hope that by Australia Day 2010, every Australian child would be geared up for school. He entreated every Australian – individuals, communities, educationalists, politicians, children, the media – to take personal responsibility for effecting this change and achieve what is a human right for all Australian children. He also advocated an inclusive approach in education towards Indigenous history and Indigenous culture, a culture that the nation could take pride in as the world's oldest and most enduring people. Reconciliation, he said, would be achieved by actions that were simultaneously practical and symbolic, and he disputed any distinction between the two as false.
As Australian of the Year, Professor Dodson said he would focus on education, and committed to personally visit and consult with schools, find and publicise pedagogic successes, and work with colleagues to institute the ANU Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), including its equitable initiatives, to create an educational environment that offers the best chance of success at education and research.
- The Canberra Times, 18 February 2009: 'Dodson leads education drive' (PDF 122KB).
- The Age, 18 February 2009: 'Dodson focuses on education's missing 20,000' (PDF 49.3KB).
- The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 2009: 'We're failing our kids: Dodson' (PDF 113KB).
- Courier Mail, 18 February 2009: 'Dodson vows to make school count for kids' (PDF 116KB).
- The Australian, 21 February 2009: 'Countdown to close education gap' (PDF 71.1KB).
Australian of the Year Awards, Tour of Honour
The Australian of the Year Awards program's Tour of Honour brings the recipients of the nation's most respected honour into contact with school students and community members to share their inspiring stories.
As part of his Tour of Honour, Professor Mick Dodson joined Ms Jonty Bush – the 2009 Young Australian of the Year, Mr Pat LaManna – the 2009 Senior Australian of the Year, and Mr Graeme Drew – Australia's Local Hero 2009, to visit Adelaide schools and community organisations from 23-25 June 2009.
Professor Mick Dodson enjoyed a very successful tour of schools in the Northern Territory with Chief Minister Paul Henderson.
Australian Capital Territory
Radford College invited Professor Dodson, on 23 March 2009, to address Year 11 and 12 history students who had been studying the Northern Territory intervention, the national apology to the Stolen Generations, treaties and the period of first contact. It was a rare opportunity for students to engage with one of the pivotal figures behind the influential 'Bringing Them Home Report', which heralded a shift in the nation's awareness of its past relationship with Indigenous people.
Wanniassa School received a commendation from Professor Dodson on 3 March 2009, for their innovative Achievement Centre, designed for children disengaged with learning. Having mentored young Indigenous leaders, Professor Dodson appreciated the primacy of individualised support provided by the Achievement Centre. While at the school, Professor Dodson also launched the school's Reconciliation Action Plan (PDF 1.7MB).