12 May 2023
Two prominent Aboriginal Australians who were instrumental in co-designing the model for the Voice to Parliament shared their perspectives in an event presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, University of South Australia.
Professor Tom Calma AO and Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO led the discussion The Voice: How the final co-design report enables an effective design for Indigenous advice to the parliament and executive government on Thursday 11 May.
After the event, Professor Calma and Professor Dr Langton received Honorary Doctorates from UniSA in recognition of their service to the community.
Both leaders are major figures in Aboriginal rights and advocacy and are well-known for their contributions to the proposed Voice to Parliament.
The referendum for Australians to vote on whether to enshrine a proposed Voice to Parliament into the Constitution is long overdue but will occur before the end of the year.
In the lead up to the referendum, a divergence of opinions supporting and opposing the Voice are consuming the media, leaving many people undecided and wanting more information.
At the Hawke Centre event, Prof Dr Langton and Prof Calma shared their experiences and explore why the Voice is needed and how it potentially will function. They also addressed some common misinformation surrounding the topic.
Prof Dr Langton is a leading anthropologist, geographer and academic, and is a descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations of Queensland. She has devoted her career to advancing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Prof Dr Langton was a key contributor to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1989) and the Native Title Act (1993) and has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, where she also serves as an Associate Provost.
Prof Calma is an Aboriginal human rights and social justice campaigner who, in 2023, was named senior Australian of the Year. He is of Kungarakan and Iwaidja heritage from the Darwin region.
Prof Calma is currently the Chancellor of the University of Canberra, a Professor at the University of Sydney and the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking. He also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 to 2009 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 to 2010.
UniSA Deputy VC Prof Marnie Hughes-Warrington, left, Prof Tom Calma, Prof Dr Marcia Langton and Deputy Chancellor John Hill at the Honorary Doctorate ceremony.
Prof Calma is a graduate of UniSA’s antecedent institution, the South Australian Institute of Technology, and in 2015 was one of the inaugural winners of the UniSA Alumni Awards. He is also a patron of the UniSA Deadly Alumni Association.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd acknowledges that both leaders have spent decades as fierce advocates for progress and change in Australia and beyond.
“Our newest honorary doctors have worked tirelessly for the improvement and advancement of Aboriginal Peoples’ rights and empowerment,” Prof Lloyd says.
“They continue to have a significant impact on public discourse and bring attention to the rights, responsibilities, and welfare of Aboriginal Peoples at community, state and international levels.
“We hope their unwavering dedication inspires our students to make their own positive impact on the world and make our communities safer, fairer and more inclusive places to live and thrive.”
Jacinta Thompson Executive Director & Events and Exhibitions Producer: The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre
M: +61 402 175 895, 08 8302 0651 E: [email protected]
Melissa Keogh – UniSA News and Communications M: +61 403 659 154 E: [email protected]