As Australia prepares to vote on 14 October in a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament, a key activist synonymous with the Yes campaign and one of the country’s leading constitutional lawyers continues to gain international acclaim.
Scientia Professor Megan Davis, UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor Society, has been named to the esteemed TIME100 Next list. The list, a spinoff of the magazine’s famed TIME100 profiling the most influential people in the world, highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, health, science, activism and more. The list is curated by TIME’s journalists and informed by their reporting.
The 2023 list includes First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini, chef Mory Sacko and Kenya’s waste warrior John Chweya.
Prof. Davis joins a handful of Australians who have featured on the list since it was first published in 2019, including soccer sensation Samantha Kerr, wildlife conservationists Bindi and Robert Irwin and actor Meyne Wyatt.
“To be included among the most prominent people creating change around the world is a fantastic honour,” Prof. Davis said. “The acknowledgement is evidence that the world is watching and waiting for Australia’s next move toward recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and creating a better future for all Australians through constitutional reform.”
UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs praised Prof. Davis’ achievement and acknowledged her inspirational commitment to justice and equity.
“I congratulate Prof. Davis on her inclusion on the prestigious TIME100 Next list. Her unwavering dedication to the rights of First Nations and Torres Strait Islander people, and her pivotal role in the dialogue surrounding the Voice to Parliament at this crucial moment in our country’s history, is truly commendable,” Prof. Brungs said.
“Her impact resonates here at home and across the globe, and this honour is a testament to her dedication and relentless leadership that continues to shape Australia’s future.”
Prof. Davis, the Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW, has worked on constitutional recognition at UNSW Law & Justice for 20 years. Prof. Davis designed the dialogue process and the First Nations National Constitutional Convention that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for the Voice. The Indigenous Law Centre has led the drafting of the constitutional amendment.
Prof. Davis delivered the Uluru Statement for the first time on the floor of the First Nations Constitutional Convention in May 2017, and she has since been relentless in her advocacy for the Voice to Parliament.
In writing for TIME, Linda Burney MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, said, “Professor Megan Davis will hold a very important chapter in the story of Australia. She has played an instrumental role in getting Australia to this historic moment; in a referendum later this year, the country has the opportunity to finally recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution. Constitutional recognition is an opportunity to acknowledge 65,000 years of culture and tradition.”
A Cobble Cobble Aboriginal woman from the Barrungam nation in south-west Queensland, Prof. Davis is the Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law at UNSW and public law expert, focusing on advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Her work extends internationally, through roles at the United Nations, focusing on global Indigenous rights. In this capacity, she was elected by the UN Human Rights Council to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples based in Geneva in 2017 and again in 2019 (2019-2022). She is currently the Chair of the Expert Mechanism.
"The honorees on this year's TIME100 Next are rising stars whose work and determination is creating a better future," said TIME Chief Executive Officer Jessica Sibley. "We're looking forward to celebrating these extraordinary individuals at our upcoming TIME100 Next event in October."
To see the full list, visit TIME.com
Authorised by Alison Avery for the University of New South Wales, The Chancellery, High St Kensington NSW 2033