When David Johnston was a boy, he keenly explored the caves near his home, leading his mother to suggest he might become an archaeologist. Later, he became one of the first Indigenous Australians to gain a degree in archaeology, graduating from ANU with Honours and completing a Master degree in London.
Conserving the nation's Aboriginal heritage is Dave's passion. As a consultant archaeologist for 27 years, he has worked on more than 2,000 heritage projects across eastern Australia from Cape York to Point Nepean.
In 2014, he was awarded the Sharon Sullivan National Heritage award for his outstanding contribution to the Indigenous heritage environment and his continuing influence on practice.
Dave has had a remarkable career and is recognised as a world leader in the field of Australian Indigenous archaeology.
He has made important contributions to the field and its development at Australian universities as well as working to ensure an Indigenous perspective and voice in the study and teaching of Australian archaeology.
His contributions have been recognised internationally. He was involved in the development of a code of ethics for the World Archaeological Congress and also drove the adoption of a code of ethics by the Australian Archaeological Association.
He was instrumental in the development of the Australian Government's guidelines for Indigenous heritage and was a member of the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee that developed the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies.
Dave has been active at ANU since he graduated, most recently being the Founding Chair of the ANU Indigenous Alumni Network, which he and Indigenous Alumni members established in 2016.
He delivers annual guest lectures and co-ordinates two to three local community-run archaeological site visits a year for the Archaeology School as well as guest lecturing for two other ANU schools.
He has been a board member of the University's Aboriginal History Journal for 19 years and has been a long-time supporter of the Tjabal Centre, being one of its Foundation students.