Megan Davis UNSW Indigenous Law Centre / Jimmy Widders Hunt.
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Discovery Indigenous project led by Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous and Professor of Law at The University of New South Wales (UNSW), is asking – in the light of the Uluru Statement of the Heart – 'What's next for First Nations?'. The project is examining the extent to which Australia’s system of government appropriately serves and represents the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Drawing on public law principles as well as comparative and international legal material, the project is looking at how Indigenous polities can be better accommodated within the Australian nation so as to improve their social and economic participation in society, and develop a model of governance against which the Australian system can be assessed. An audit will then be conducted of how that system operates in comparison to this model, before drawing conclusions and identifying potential reforms.

Professor Davis says that the outcomes of the project will include original scholarship of domestic and international significance that will inform academic and policy debate during and beyond the proposed referendum to recognise Indigenous peoples in the Constitution. The project will also show how paying attention to the reform of the way government does business with First Nations is the urgent foundation that is required as a precondition for intergovernmental initiatives like COAG's Closing the Gap.

Professor Davis has been the leading constitutional lawyer working on Indigenous constitutional reform since 2011. In 2015 she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Referendum Council and designed the deliberative constitutional dialogue process the Council undertook.

Photo credit: 

Professsor Megan Davis. Credit: UNSW Indigenous Law Centre / Jimmy Widders Hunt.