CDU appoints Indigenous leader to head advisory group 

Political pioneer Jack Ah Kit will chair the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council. Photographer: Kellie Block. Image © Northern Territory News

One of the Territory’s most respected Aboriginal leaders will head a new group that will advise Charles Darwin University on Indigenous matters.

Jack Ah Kit, the NT’s first Aboriginal government minister, will chair the 10-member Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council, which will provide high-level advice to Professor Barney Glover.

Professor Glover said the advisory group would have a wide-ranging brief including to contribute to improving Indigenous participation in vocational education training and higher education, increasing Indigenous staffing across the university, and strengthening CDU’s engagement with Indigenous groups and organisations. The group would complement the work of CDU’s Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership.

The Vice-Chancellor said that Dr Ah Kit, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from CDU in 2009 for his contribution to Indigenous people, was deeply committed to reconciliation and cross-cultural understanding.

“Jack Ah Kit has lived and worked in Central Australia and the Top End and, most importantly, has achieved a great deal for Indigenous people in the Territory,” Professor Glover said.

“CDU has an important role in assisting Australia to address both Indigenous disadvantage as well as advancement, and this advisory group will ensure that our activities make a real difference.”

In the late 1980s Dr Ah Kit worked with elders to protect Coronation Hill in Kakadu from further exploration or mining. In 1991, as Director of the Katherine-based Jawoyn Association, he was part of the negotiating team that reached Australia’s first Native Title settlement over mining at Mt Todd and helped to establish sustainable enterprises at Nitmiluk National Park.

He held the seat of Arnhem for a decade from 1995 and, among other portfolios, was the Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Indigenous Affairs.

Since his retirement, Dr Ah Kit has chaired the Nitmiluk National Park Board of Management and served on the reference group to the Anderson-Wild Inquiry into child abuse in Aboriginal communities.

In 2007 he received a life-time achievement award during the National NAIDOC Awards.

The advisory group is expected to meet for the first time later this year.