Professor Jack Beetson

Adjunct Professor - Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law (AgLaw)


Professor Jack Beetson is a Ngemba Aboriginal man from western NSW who has been actively involved in Indigenous education in Australia and internationally for over 30 years. He is not an academic researcher and does not have a track record in the academic sense.  However, since April 2009, he has held an Adjunct Professor appointment with the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law.  This appointment came about in recognition of the contribution he has made to the university and in other areas to the development of policies and programs for Aboriginal development.

Professor Beetson's experience in a leadership and advisory role include:

  • Interim Chair, National Aboriginal Environment Trust, 2008-2009
  • Member, Northern Rivers Catchments Management Authority, 2004-2008
  • NSW Commission for Children and Young People
  • Member, Expert Advisory Panel, 2004-2007
  • Member, Child Death Review Committee,  2007-2009
  • Member, Australian National Training Authority Indigenous Advisory Council 1993-2000
  • Director and Foundation President, Federation of Independent Aboriginal Educational Providers, 1994-2000
  • Member, Council of Southern Cross University 1996-1998
  • Member, Sydney ATSIC Regional Council 1993-1998
  • Member, MCEETYA Task Force on Aboriginal Education 1995-1997
  • Member, Council of University of Technology Sydney, 1993-1996
  • Member, Executive Committee, Adult Learning Australia 1991-1994

Professor Beetson has provided policy advice to NSW Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Health and Housing and to the Parliamentary Secretary on Aboriginal Affairs since 1980s. His analysis and advice on policy issues has been sought by Directors- General of the Departments of Aboriginal Affairs, Community Services and Health. In recent years, he has been a consultant to government on Aboriginal affairs, children’s services, education and natural resource management; to Macquarie Bank, on land purchasing for NSW Aboriginal communities; to Multiplex, Citigroup and Sydney Rotary on Aboriginal issues; and to the University of New England. Professor Beetson also has an international profile, having represented Indigenous Australia in United Nations Forums, and  was a consultant to two international projects a consultant to two international projects run by the University of Lancashire in the UK, on benefit sharing and Indigenous people’s rights in relation to the commercial exploitation of traditional environmental knowledge.In 2000, Professor Beetson was recognised as a United Nations ‘Unsung Hero of Peace’ for his work on Reconciliation, a decision which was acknowledged by unanimous vote of the NSW Legislative Assembly in March 2001.

Between 2004 and 2009, he held part-time CEO positions with the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Macleay Aboriginal Housing Association. He was a partner investigator with on ARC Linkage Project LP0775034 2007-2009, a collaborative project with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labour in Timor-Leste on the emerging adult education system in that country. It was through this project that Professor Beetson first became aware of the Cuban Yes I Can mass literacy campaign model, which they began trialling in Australia in 2011. From September 2011 - October 2013, he was CEO of the Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), which became the local lead agency for the first pilot of the national Aboriginal adult literacy campaign.In May 2013, Professor Beetson was appointed the first Executive Director of the Literacy for Life Foundation, now charged with the national roll out of the Aboriginal adult literacy campaign. Through his own Aboriginal education and development company, now named Beetson & Associates, he has also recently completed consultancies for Commonwealth FaHCSIA, Aboriginal Affairs NSW, the NSW Office of the Registrar of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, and Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation.