Professor Marcia Langton was among the hundreds of Australians recognised in the Queens Birthday Honour List on Monday.
Prof Langton was honoured with the Officer of the Order of Australia for her "distinguished service to tertiary education, and as an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people".
Prof Langton is an associate provost and the foundation chair of Australian Indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne.
In accepting the honour Prof Langton said she was proud of the tertiary education sector but that Australia has a "long way to go", drawing attention to racism in Australia.
"I believe we're all one species and we all have the same potentialities," she said.
"There are people who don't believe that and they actually threaten our society, they threaten our democracy, they threaten our health — racism has an enormous impact on one's health."
Former Prime Minister and Special Envoy to Indigenous Australians, Tony Abbott, was also recognised for "contributions made to the Indigenous community", with the top honour of Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
Mr Abbott was controversially appointed as Special Envoy to Aboriginal people in 2018 shortly after being dumped as PM by the Liberal Party.
He tweeted on Monday that he was "very honoured" to receive the AC award.
"This award doesn't mark the end of my public service, it's just that it now takes a different form and I wear a number of different uniforms to do it," the tweet read.
Mr Abbott also re-introduced knights and dames titles into the annual honours list and drew heavy criticism for his "captains-pick" when he awarded the Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, with a knighthood in 2015.
The knights and dames titles were later again scrapped from the honours system by Mr Abbott's replacement, PM Malcolm Turnbull.
Indigenous people who have made their mark on the arts also featured heavily in this year's honours, with novelist and poet, Herb Wharton receiving a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) honour for "significant service to the literary arts, to poetry, and to the Indigenous community".
Medals of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to "Indigenous visual arts and the community" were awarded to South Australian artists Vincent Namatjira, Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Mumu Mike Williams and Peter Mungkuri, and Victorian artists Frances Harrison and Lennie Hayes.
Barkindji artist and curator Nici Cumptson also received an OAM for her contribution "to the museums and galleries sector, and to Indigenous arts".
Indigenous health was also in the spotlight with nurse, midwife and Murdoch University researcher Rhonda Marriott receiving a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for "significant service to tertiary education, to Indigenous health, and to nursing".
Indigenous health practitioner Merinda Harrison-Drake received a Medals of the Order of Australia for her service to Indigenous health in Gippsland.
Sarah Brown, the CEO of central Australian dialysis service, Purple House, was also awarded an AM. Ms Brown was recognised for her "significant service to community health, to remote area nursing, and to the Indigenous community".
Professor Neil Drew, a director of the Australian Indigenous Health healthinfonet was recognised with an AM for "significant service to tertiary education, to behavioural science, and to Indigenous health".
Dr John Curotta also received a Member of the Order of Australia honour for his "significant service to medicine as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and to Indigenous health".
While Dr John Daniels and Sandy Anderson both received medals of the Order of Australia for their contribution to Indigenous health. Ms Anderson work in cancer prevention, and Aboriginal women's health, was particularly mentioned.
Indigenous academics and those working in the education and youth sectors also held a prominent space on the honours list.
Wiradjuri man Scott Saddler was honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia for his work in "public administration, and as a supporter and mentor of Indigenous youth".
James Cook University's Nicholas Nakata also received a Member of the Order of Australia for "significant service to tertiary education, and to learning outcomes for Indigenous students".
While Curtin University's Cheryl Kickett-Tucker became a Member of the Order of Australia for her "significant service to tertiary education, and to the Indigenous community".
Early childhood educator and founder of Yarn Strong Sista, Sue Lopez Atkinson received an AM honour for "significant service to early childhood education, and to the Indigenous community".
Medals of the Order of Australia were also awarded to Peter Johnson, Alo Tapim, Sue Davenport, Lisa Mumbin, Muuki Taylor, Joanne manintja Willmot for service to their respective communities.