UniSA has announced the appointment of Professor Irene Watson to a new senior management position created to further enhance the University’s commitment to Aboriginal engagement.
A Tanganekald, Meintangk-Bunganditj woman, solicitor, representative for First Nations Peoples at the United Nations and researcher, Prof Watson has been appointed as Pro Vice Chancellor for Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy, and Unaipon Chair.
Announcing the appointment, UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the new position will have responsibility for leading the development of a whole-of-institution approach to the recruitment, support, retention and success of Aboriginal people at the University and meeting its ambition to be Australia’s university of choice for Aboriginal people.
“We want to ensure there are not only more opportunities for Aboriginal people to attend university and pursue the full range of career programs we offer, but also that they are successful here and leave with the knowledge and skills to build both strong careers and strong communities,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Irene will provide strategic leadership and advice to staff at the University to develop the kinds of relationships across the community – in business, government and professional bodies – that support Aboriginal student and staff engagement.
“I am delighted to welcome Irene to the senior management group, a person who in her own career has shown great leadership locally and globally in advocating the rights and recognition of First Nations Peoples.”
Prof Watson says she is eager to take on a position, which has so much potential and opportunity.
“I am excited at the possibilities that the position presents to enhance and further the engagement between First Nations Peoples and the University,” Prof Watson says.
“There is much work to be done and action to be directed and I look forward to the day that UniSA is not only the first choice of First Nations scholars, but is also integral to the future of our communities.”
Prof Watson graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Adelaide and received the Bonython Law School prize for her doctoral thesis in 2000.
She was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship by the University of Sydney and took up an appointment with UniSA in 2008.
Since 1989, Prof Watson has taught in all three South Australian universities and she continues to combine teaching with academic research today.
In 2013, she received an ARC Indigenous Discovery Award and has recently completed the project – Indigenous Knowledge: Law, Society and the State.
Prof Watson has published extensively in both law and Indigenous Knowledges and recently completed two books Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law, (Routledge 2015) and Indigenous Peoples as Subjects in International Law, (forthcoming publication Routledge 2016).
Prof Watson has had a close relationship with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia since its inception in 1973, serving as a member, solicitor and director.
She served as a front-line solicitor advising the legal service on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and has advised numerous communities across Australia on law and justice issues.
Since the 1990s, Prof Watson has made a number of interventions on behalf of First Nations Peoples to the United Nations and she continues to attend UN meetings as an invited expert on the rights of First Nations Peoples.