Education key to unlocking future for Indigenous Australia

Published 04 November 2019

Education as a driving force for change is the subject of this year’s Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture that will take place at the University of New England later this month.

This free public lecture will be delivered by Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Honorable Ken Wyatt AM MP, and is titled “Teaching Indigenous Australia - Understanding our past and unlocking our future.”

Well-known for his eloquent deliveries in parliament and other fora, Minister Wyatt asks how education can help us understand the past and what role it will play in delivering a voice and constitutional recognition for all Australians – specifically to help close the gap for Indigenous Australians, empower communities and provide greater opportunities for people.

UNE Vice-Chancellor and CEO, Professor Brigid Heywood, says the theme of Minister Wyatt’s presentation speaks directly to UNE’s determination to support its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff to excel.

“We’ve had an exemplar year with over 900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying at UNE and over 50 graduating so far,” Professor Heywood said. “I’m looking forward to building on these numbers in Trimester 3.”

“I’m also pleased to announce that UNE has created a new Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous role tasked with ensuring that UNE is a culturally aware and inclusive workplace, making it an employer of choice for Indigenous people and a centre of excellence for Indigenous education.  UNE was the first university in Australia to develop educational offerings directly for Aboriginal educators and those seeking to enable practice.”

The Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture is an annual event held in honour of Gumbaynggirr man Frank Archibald, a revered Aboriginal community member of the Armidale area.

Like Minister Wyatt, Frank Archibald earned respect for his knowledge and interest in all issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly education. Described as a “passionate and forceful advocate for the rights of Aboriginal people” he was a fully initiated Elder who spoke seven different Aboriginal languages, understood a further two, and spoke English fluently.

Established in 1986, the lecture series provides a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers who are leading professionals in their fields to deliver lectures with impact. Now in its 33rd year, it is one of the longest-running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lecture series in the country.

The Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture will be held in the UNE Arts Theatre (A1) on Tuesday, 19 November at 6pm. Community members are warmly invited to attend this free public lecture.

Contact the Oorala Aboriginal Centre for more information.

Media contact for Minister Wyatt: Luke Nayna on 0438 231 687 or email:

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