FORMER Echuca resident Wayne Atkinson was recognised for his contribution to indigenous education when he received a major award from the University of Melbourne.
A Yorta Yorta elder, Dr Atkinson received the 2017 Faculty of Arts TG Tucker Medal for Outstanding Achievement.
During a period of 15 years, including since his retirement, Dr Atkinson has taught a subject on Yorta Yorta territory in northern Victoria.
The subject brings together analysis of indigenous nations and culture with politics of land and the Yorta Yorta native title case.
Dr Atkinson began his career in community development, earning a Diploma of Social Work at the South Australian Institute of Technology in 1977.
He gained his Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) at La Trobe University in 1996 and his PhD in law and legal studies in 2001.
Dr Atkinson has an extensive teaching career, having held academic teaching posts at the University of Melbourne since 1997.
He has served as the coordinator and senior lecturer in indigenous studies between 2000 and 2007 and as Honorary Senior Fellow since 2013.
He won a University of Melbourne award for excellence and innovation in indigenous higher education in 2013 and has been a visiting Indigenous scholar at the National University of Ireland in Galway since 2006.
Mr Atkinson’s work on the 1998 Yorta Yorta native title claim placed him at the forefront of bringing native title claims through the courts.
This work informed his research, which has been published in books and journals concerned with Australian Aboriginal affairs.
He has been frequently invited to address international audiences seeking to put indigenous debates in a comparative light.
This includes being a visiting indigenous scholar at the National University of Ireland in Galway since 2006.
This award is another one to add to his repertoire, but he finds this as his greatest honour.
In his speech he made after receiving the award, he said he believed he was the first indigenous recipient of the award.
“It is a significant occasion that I would like to honour my people — the Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrong who are the traditional owners of the Murray and central Victorian region,” he said.