07 December 2023




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Marcia Langton Book Cover The Way of the Ancestors

There are relatively few moments when we have the time to consider the larger issues of life, including the future of our nation and our world, and how we can shape it. 

The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre offers the Annual Hawke Lecture in this spirit, as an opportunity to listen to the views of someone whose experience of human affairs is notable, and whose concerns about our world are truly worthy of consideration. 

To this end, Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO will deliver the 24th Annual Hawke Lecture. Marcia Langton is an eminent Australian Indigenous scholar and activist who has made significant contributions to the field of Indigenous law and social justice. 

Through her extensive academic work and public engagement, she has been instrumental in promoting a deeper understanding of Indigenous law and its relevance in contemporary Australian society.

Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn are the co-authors of Law: The Way of the Ancestors, part of the First Knowledges series, which provides an introduction to Indigenous knowledges in vital areas and their application to the present day and the future.

Their book shows how Indigenous law has enabled people to survive and thrive in Australia for more than 2000 generations. Nurturing people and places, law is the foundation of all Indigenous societies in Australia, giving them the tools to respond and adapt to major environmental and social changes. But law is not a thing of the past. These living, sophisticated systems are as powerful now as they have ever been, if not more so.

Earlier this year as part of the Hawke Centre's Program, Marcia presented with Professor Tom Calma AO, The Voice: How The Final Co-Design Report Enables An Effective Design For Indigenous Advice To The Parliament And Executive Government. Following the presentation, Professor Tom Calma AO and Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO received Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Australia in recognition of their service to the community. 

The Annual Hawke Lecture is a significant event on the public calendar of the University of South Australia. Browse our full catalogue of past Annual Hawke Lectures.

Imprints Booksellers will be selling copies of Law: The Way of the Ancestors, in the foyer on the night of the event.

Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre 

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professor DR marcia langton ao
associate provost, university of melbourne 
honorary doctorate, university of south australia

Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO, an anthropologist, geographer and academic, is a descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations of Queensland. Langton has devoted her career to advancing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Since 2000, she has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, where she also serves as an Associate Provost.

Langton's advocacy career began in 1977 when she served as the General Secretary of the Federal Council for Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. She made a significant contribution to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, authoring the report, Too Much Sorry Business. She was a member of the Aboriginal negotiating panel influencing the passage of the Native Title Act through the Federal Parliament in 1993.

Marcia has published numerous articles and books on a range of topics related to Indigenous peoples, including land tenure, agreement-making, and art and film. Her publications include Burning Questions: Emerging Environmental Issues for Indigenous Peoples in Northern Australia (1998), Settling with Indigenous People (2006), and Welcome to Country: A Travel Guide to Indigenous Australia (2018). Her contributions to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians in 2011 further demonstrate her dedication to Indigenous advocacy. As a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia, Langton continues to be a frank and forceful presence in the Australian media.

Professor Langton co-presented with Professor Tom Calma AO The Voice: How The Final Co-Design Report Enables An Effective Design For Indigenous Advice To The Parliament And Executive Government. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia in a ceremony following the presentation. 


Presented by
The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre


While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.