Meet ANU Indigenous Alumna of the Year

15 September 2021

Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson has been recognised as the 2021 ANU Indigenous Alumna of the Year for her contributions as an Australian academic, Indigenous feminist, author and activist for Indigenous rights.  

Professor Moreton-Robinson is a Goenpul woman and was born on Queensland's Stadbroke Island, Quandamooka country. She attended The Australia National University (ANU) as a mature student, and at the time, was the only Aboriginal student at the University. She was the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to a mainstream lecturing position in women's studies in Australia, and has held senior positions in universities across the nation.

A formidable thinker, her book Talkin' up to the white woman: Indigenous women and feminism made a serious impact on First Nations women and feminism. She was also the first Indigenous scholar from outside of the USA to be chosen as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"The impact of ANU on my career has been profound," Professor Moreton-Robinson said.

"Access to brilliant minds and rigorous debate fed my thirst for knowledge and scholarship and enhanced my commitment to making a difference in the world for Indigenous people through research and scholarship.

"The education I received at ANU enabled me to excel and achieve many firsts, role model Indigenous scholarship and support emerging Indigenous scholars and leaders who contribute to improving the conditions under which our communities live."

Professor Moreton-Robinson's advice for Indigenous students at ANU is to believe in themselves.

"Understand that Indigenous excellence is not a product of the university. Remember, Indigenous excellence existed with all of our different nations and it is something that we can achieve even in universities, outside of our communities. It's just a different form of Indigenous excellence but it is within our grasp," Professor Moreton-Robinson said.

"Be strong enough to get up every time somebody knocks you down and keep going. And hopefully, you will be the change-makers that this country needs, in so many different ways."