Honorary Degree citation: The Honourable Fred Chaney AO

13 December 2017

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, the Honourable Fred Chaney AO.

Mr Chaney has made an exceptional contribution to public service through parliament and his lifelong commitment to Indigenous issues.

He has a strong commitment to social justice and a belief in the inherent quality of people.

Mr Chaney was born in Perth and educated at the University of Western Australia.

He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia and practised law in WA and Papua New Guinea.

After returning to Australia, he became a foundation member of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia.

He entered Federal Parliament in 1974 as a Senator for Western Australia and in 1990, he was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Pearce.

In his 19 years in Federal Parliament, he held the senior portfolios of Aboriginal Affairs, Social Security and Administrative Services, and a number of assistant ministerial positions.

After leaving Parliament, Mr Chaney devoted himself to improving the position of Aboriginal people in Australian society.

He undertook research into Aboriginal affairs policy and administration as a Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia before making a significant contribution to a better society - as a member of the National Native Title Tribunal.

He joined as a part-time member in 1994, became a full-time member the next year and was appointed Deputy President in 2000.

In 1995 he was appointed Chancellor of Murdoch University, a position he held until 2002. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from that university in 2003.

His service to the community was further recognised in 1997 when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to Aboriginal people and parliament.

He continued his strong involvement in Aboriginal issues as founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, and remained with that organisation for more than a decade.

In 2008 he was awarded the Sir Roland Wilson Leadership Award for "exceptional leadership in the fields of social justice, human rights, equality and anti-racism" and became a member of the Expert Panel on the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians three years later.

Mr Chaney continues to champion the public discourse on Indigenous affairs, acting as keynote speaker at numerous events and authoring articles on pertinent issues such as Closing the Gap and the state of contemporary Indigenous affairs in Australia.

He delivered the Annual ANU Reconciliation Lecture in December 2014, at which he posed the question, "Is Australia big enough for reconciliation?"

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you the Honourable Fred Chaney AO, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for his exceptional contribution to public service through parliament and his lifelong commitment to Indigenous issues.