After over a quarter of a century on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Studies Council, and 17 years as its chairperson, Professor Mick Dodson this week has stepped down from the helm of the organisation.
Professor Dodson says it has been a privilege to serve the Australian people including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in his role.
"[It's been] an honour to witness and guide the growth of AIATSIS into the world renowned research, collecting and publishing institution it is today," he said.
“AIATSIS is the custodian of knowledge, history and heritage of the oldest continuing culture on earth. It is intrinsic to our national identity."
AIATSIS promotes knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, traditions, languages and stories, past and present.
It holds priceless collections, of films, photographs, video and audio recordings as well as the world’s largest collection of printed and other resource materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, and undertakes scholarly, ethical, community-based research in a variety of sectors.
Professor Dodson says AIATSIS plays an important role in preserving Indigenous culture, stories and language.
“From language to dance, music to art, songlines to stories, AIATSIS has a central role in making sure that’s available not just to present generations but to future generations,” Professor Dodson.
“I step down confident the future of AIATSIS is in safe hands. The appointment of a new CEO, Craig Ritchie, recent funding allocation and passing of amendments to the AIATSIS Act 1989 provide renewed purpose for our 50 year old institution,” he said.
He paid tribute to the staff at AIATSIS saying their dedication and professionalism never ceased to astound him.
“People entrust their knowledge, culture and language to this place because they know it will be looked after in an ethical and culturally appropriate way, because that’s the way we have done business for over 50 years."
AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie said Professor Dodson’s service to AIATSIS is unparalleled, his vision a guiding force for the Institute for almost half its life.
“Not only has Professor Dodson been a longstanding champion for AIATSIS, he is also a national icon and champion and for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," he said.
“On behalf of everyone involved with AIATSIS, past and present, I say thank you Professor Dodson for your courage, your guidance and dedication.”
The AIATSIS Council has announced its new members at a recent election, including; linguist and ethnomusicologist Dr Myfany Turpin, researcher and Marda Marda man Mr Steve Kinnane, Arrente woman and renowned filmmaker Rachel Perkins and Wiradjuri man and Pro-Vice Chancellor at UTS Professor Michael McDaniel.
The appointment of a Chair, Deputy Chair and filling the vacancy for Ministerial Appointment will be considered at the Council's first meeting in June.