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Vincent Lingiari and Gough Whitlam

Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture

The Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture commemorates the Wave Hill Station walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari with his Gurindji people and other groups in August 1966 – a significant act by those involved as it was a catalyst for Aboriginal people, not only in the Northern Territory but across Australia, to have their rights to traditional lands recognised and for those lands to be returned.

The Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lectures, established in 1996, have included presentations by Sir William Deane (1996), Gough Whitlam (1997), Galarrwuy Yunupingu (1998), Patrick Dodson (1999), Malcolm Fraser (2000), Brian Manning (2002), Linda Burney MP (2006), The Honorable Fred Chaney AO and Associate Professor Sue Stanton (2007), Kev Carmody (2008), Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula and Associate Professor Gracelyn Smallwood (2009), Megan Davis (2010), Professor Marcia Langton (2011), Dr. Chris Sarra (2012) and Sir Tipene O’Regan (2014).

Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture archives

Charles Darwin Univeristy became the sole custodians of the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture in 2007.  Transcripts and/or recordings from 2007 to the present are currently available below.

  • The Minister for Indigenous Ken Wyat
    The Hon Ken Wyatt AM

    The 2019 lecture was delivered by the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Charles Darwin University on Thursday 15 August.

    Minister Wyatt’s lecture was titled ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’, which reflected on his thoughts that like a pendulum, the journey of Indigenous Australians has swung with the political and legal winds of change, at times, coming back to the centre of stillness, of homeostasis, where we find ourselves a little further down the road and bracing for the next wind that blows Indigenous Australians in a new direction.

    Hon Ken Wyatt AM, who was appointed as the Minister for Indigenous Australians in 2019, making him the first Aboriginal person to hold the federal ministry, and the first Aboriginal person to sit in cabinet. In 2010 he was also the first Indigenous person elected to the House of Representatives

    Minister Wyatt is a Noongar man, and as the son of a Stolen Generations member, he has worn his culture proudly throughout his time in Parliament, and in his maiden speech, he wore a traditional kangaroo-hide cloak of the Noongar people and paid tribute to his mother, who died before the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

    He has had an extensive career in health and education and has made an enormous contribution to the wider community in training and mentoring young people. This was recognised in 1996 when he was awarded the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. In 2000, he was awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal for ‘his efforts and contribution to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and mainstream Australian society in education and health’.

    CDU proudly hosts the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, a significant tradition of this University, to commemorate the Anniversary of the ‘Wave Hill Walk-Off’, and as part of the Gurindji Freedom Day Festival events.

    Lecture resources:

  • Josie Crawshaw

    Ms Josie Crawshaw delivered the 18th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 15 August 2018.

    In her lecture titled: ‘The right for Australia’s First Peoples to be self-determining requires a collective mind shift’ Ms Crawshaw reflected on the impact of the Wave Hill strike had on a high point in Australia’s history - the 1967 referendum - and shares the story of her Gurindji mother’s –Nawurla’s advocacy, persistence and resilience informed her own life’s work.

    Josie provided a critical analysis of policy conceptualisation and identifying meaningful structural reforms that recognises First Nations Peoples in Australia’s Constitution, and pose the question of "Can a modern Australia recognise the rightful place of its First peoples of this country as a collective responsibility of all Australians to again say YES?"

    The event was held at CDU’s Casuarina campus amphitheatre and was free and open to the public. 

    Lecture resources:

  • pat_anderson

    Ms Pat Anderson AO delivered the 17th Annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University on Wednesday, 16 August, which commemorated the historic walk-off from Wave Hill Station by Indigenous stockmen and their families, planting the seeds for Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

    In her her lecture titled: "Our Hope for the Future:  Voice. Treaty. Truth" Ms Anderson reflected on her personal history and experience as an advocate for social justice during the last half-century of struggle for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the former Prime Minister's Referendum Council, Ms Anderson is a campaigner for advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children. She is an Aboriginal advocate for social justice and winner of the 2016 Human Rights Medal.

    The event was held at CDU’s Casuarina campus amphitheatre and was free and open to the public.

    Lecture resources:

  • Larissa Behrendt

    Presented by Professor Larissa Behrendt.

    Fifty years ago, Vincent Lingiari led an Indigenous walk off from the Wave Hill station that has become one of the most important political moments in contemporary Australian history. It was a protest movement that did not just have deep symbolic value but also had a profound intellectual base.

    It demanded equality of treatment through the payment of prope wages while also reinforcing the Gurindji traditional connection and custodianship of country. It also asserted Indigenous agency and self-determination. These notions of access to equal opportunity and rights within Australian society and the claims of Indigenous identity and nationhood continue to shape the contemporary political aspirations of Indigenous people.

    There are many issues that continue to highlight the importance of the claims Lingiari and his people were making. There are the socio-economic gaps highlighted in the ‘Close the Gap’ figures but there are also increased rate of child removal from Indigenous parents and deaths in custody that highlight systemic discrimination and disadvantage.

    But there are also roadmaps forward that Lingiari’s political vision laid out that are equally relevant today. At its heart is the understanding that Indigenous people have to be playing the central role in the direction their future takes. This self-determination and agency will lead to the best outcomes for Indigenous communities.

    Importantly, Lingiari’s vision for the future saw not just the importance of socio-economic equality, it also recognised the importance of strong Indigenous communities and cultures.

    Today, when policy makers will often claim that Indigenous cultures are part of the problem, it is important to reflect on the role that Lingiari saw them play as part of the solution. In particular, Indigenous knowledges have a critical role to play in innovation, sustainability and resilience. Acknowledging and respecting this wisdom will not just offer important opportunities moving forward but should reinforce the central place of Indigenous people in Australian society.

    Lecture resources

  • jeff_mcmullen

    Against what he describes as a ‘critical time in Aboriginal Land Rights History’ renowned journalist, author and filmmaker Mr Jeff McMullen AM delivered the 15th annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at CDU’s Casuarina campus on August 6, 2015

    Mr McMullen’s lecture focused on “Custodianship in the 21st Century”. It explored the Indigenous connection to country and pay homage to the wisdom of Vincent Lingiari an Indigenous elder who led the walk-off at Wave Hill cattle station in 1966, in Kalkarindji, Northern Territory.

    Lecture resources


    The Vincent Lingiari lecture was proudly presented in partnership with National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN)

  • sir-tipene-oregan

    Sir Tipene O’Regan, Co-chair of New Zealand’s Constitutional Advisory Panel, presented the lecture entitled "The economics of Indigenous survival".

    The lecture focused on the challenges faced by Indigenous minorities in developing economic and governance models capable of sustaining the heritage and cultural identity of Indigenous people on an inter-generational basis.

    Article: Maori tribal leader to explore Indigenous survivalCDU enews, Issue 7, August 5, 2014

    Lecture resources

    About Sir Tipene O’Regan

    Sir Tipene O’Regan is Co-chair of New Zealand’s Constitutional Advisory Panel and a former Assistant Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury. He chairs the Centre for Maori Research Excellence at the University of Auckland and is Upoko, or traditional head, of the Awarua Runaka of Ngai Tahu – the major tribal group in the South Island of New Zealand.

    Sir Tipene is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the University of Auckland.

    He holds three honorary degrees: a D.Litt from the University of Canterbury and two Doctorates of Commerce from Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington, respectively.

    He has held a number of long-term appointments in the New Zealand heritage sector and retired after 29 years as a Member of the New Zealand Geographic Board.

    Sir Tipene’s academic interests have been focused largely on Maori traditional history and Treaty history matched with a strong interest in wider Pacific history and comparative culture contact experience.

    From 1985 to 1998 Sir Tipene led the Ngai Tahu Claims culminating in the Treaty Settlements in 1998, and from 1986 to 1992 he was involved in the Treaty Fisheries Claims. He was the architect of the Treaty Fisheries Settlements of 1989 and 1992.

    In more recent years he has written and lectured on the evolution of the Maori intergenerational economy and on the development of Indigenous governance.

  • chris-sarra

    "Stronger Smarter Aboriginal Policy Reform: like Vincent, we know how to wait..."

    Dr Chris Sarra, Executive Director of the Stronger Smarter Institute, presented, "Stronger Smarter Aboriginal Policy Reform: like Vincent, we know how to wait ... ".

    A visionary educator and former principal, who holds a doctorate in Psychology, Dr Sarra has made significant contribution to, and continues to advocate for, Indigenous education based on 'high-expectations relationships'.

    In the 2012 Vincent Linigiari Memorial Lecture, Dr Sarra traced the antecedents of his Stronger Smarter philosophy to the extraordinary and historical leadership of Vincent Lingiiari and the Gurindji people who took an unprecedented stand for access to their traditional lands, and were patient beyond measure before finally succeeding in achieving their goal.

    Lecture resources

    About Dr. Chris Sarra

    Dr Chris Sarra hails from Bundaberg in Queensland. The youngest of 10 children, Chris experienced first-hand many of the issues faced by Indigenous students throughout their schooling.

    Entering university Chris found encouragement and inspiration from various lecturers and mentors who encouraged him to go beyond the expectations the system usually held for young Indigenous students. He completed a Diploma of Teaching, a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Education. In recent years Chris completed a PhD in Psychology with Murdoch University.

    In the late 1990s Chris took on the challenges of Indigenous education as the Principal of Cherbourg State School in South East Queensland. Through strong leadership and clear vision he facilitated many changes at the school which saw increasing enthusiasm for student learning through dramatically improved school attendance and increased community involvement in education. Under Chris's leadership the school became nationally acclaimed for its pursuit of the Strong and Smart philosophy.

    Chris is now the Executive Director of the Stronger Smarter Institute which is pursuing improved educational outcomes for Indigenous children through engagement with principals, teachers, community leaders and Government. The Institute's work is based on the Strong and Smart philosophy which espouses a strong and positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in today's Australian society, and that Indigenous students can achieve outcomes comparable to other students.

    Chris believes that the power teachers have to inspire their students should never be underestimated. These are messages that Chris Sarra has drawn from his own life as an Indigenous child, student, teacher, parent, principal and leader.

    Chris has been the recipient of many awards and much recognition as his ideas, enthusiasm and vision have taken hold nationally and internationally.

  • Proffessor Marcia Langton

    Professor Marcia Langton, Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne, presented Culture, custom, modernity and health: a nexus of factors in the status of Aboriginal children.

    The most vulnerable citizens of the Northern Territory are Aboriginal babies. Unable to feed themselves and given insufficient nutrition for normal growth, at the very beginning of their lives they suffer hunger and they are unable to develop normally. Growth failure or growth faltering is the principal manifestation of malnutrition in children

    These babies are caught between two tides of history. On the one hand, they have been swept up by the tide of the past. Their parents and ancestors were the victims of such a disruption of normal life, brought about by colonisation, enforced segregation in managed reserves and missions, removal of children from families, extreme exclusion from the economy and poverty, that they were deprived of the knowledge or commonsense of parenting duties and responsibilities, from feeding weaning babies to basic hygiene. On the other hand, they will be swept along by an ill tide into an unhappy future.

    Already biophysically affected by undernourishment and growth faltering, their capacity to take up opportunities for a happy, productive life will be limited. They are very sick children with an uncertain future.

    Their experience is one of suffering from birth to adulthood, and if they make it beyond adulthood, from there on their lives are similarly blighted.

    In this Vincent Lingiari Lecture, I ask: how should we respond to improve measurable, identified problems without entrenching passivity and dependency and worsening the situation, or making these expensive interventions permanent? The agency and sense of responsibility of community members is a vital ingredient in their success.

    The critical question is: How to involve family and community members in health interventions so that they are taking responsibility for their own health and that of their children?

    Lecture resources

     the lecture or listen to the lecture below.

    Read the enews story Lingiari lecture proposes systemic change to Indigenous health.

    About Professor Marcia Langton

    An anthropologist and geographer, Professor Langton has made significant contributions to Indigenous studies at three universities, government and non-government policy and administration. Her work in anthropology and the advocacy of Aboriginal rights was recognised in 1993 when she was made a member of the Order of Australia.

    Marcia Langton has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne since February 2000. She is in the Centre for Health & Society in the School of Population Health of the Medical Faculty.

    She became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2001 and was awarded the inaugural Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Teacher of the Year in 2002. She was awarded a PhD from Macquarie University in 2005. She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), a member of the Board of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and Chair of the Museums and Galleries of the Northern Territory Board. In 2011 she became a member of the Expert Panel on Recognition of Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

  • The Challenge of Human Rights for Indigenous People

    Megan Davis, Director of the Indigenous Law Centre and Senior Lecturer at University of New South Wales, presented The Challenges of Human Rights for Indigenous people. 

    In the absence of entrenched rights in the Constitution and the state's failure to adequately implement and honour international human rights obligations, the vexing question for many Indigenous peoples is: are rights relevant to our daily lives?

    This lecture mapped the history of Indigenous engagement with the United Nations and the international human rights system. In doing so it reflected on recent achievements such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However this lecture raised the challenges of the international human rights system for Indigenous peoples and limitations of the Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination as recognised in international law. This lecture advocated a transformation in the way Indigenous people think and speak about human rights.

    Read the enews story UN Indigenous expert to present Lingiari Memorial Lecture.

    About Megan Davis

    Megan Davis is Director of the Indigenous Law Centre and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. Megan also serves as a Commissioner on the NSW Land and Environment Court under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

    This year Megan Davis was elected as an independent expert of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues based in New York. She is the first Indigenous Australian and first Aboriginal Australian woman to be elected by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to a UN body. Her three year term begins in 2011.

    Megan’s academic scholarship has focused on Indigenous legal issues in constitutional law and Indigenous rights in international law. Megan has been an international human rights lawyer for over 10 years and this has included the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Megan is the Australian member of the International Law Association’s Indigenous Rights Committee writing an expert commentary on the Declaration. She is also a former United Nations Indigenous Fellow of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

    Megan recently completed a doctoral thesis at the Australian National University on the right to self-determination and Aboriginal women. This year Megan was also awarded the 2010 NAIDOC Scholar of the Year. Megan is an Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from South East Queensland.

  • Distinguished Indigenous elder, musician and scholar, Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula, and Associate Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, from James Cook University, presented the 10th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus on Saturday, August 15, 2009.

    Entitled Wuŋuli Dhärranhana: Making enduring records work for Indigenous cultural survival, Dr Gumbula's lecture drew on his consummate knowledge of Yolngu law and heritage. It incorporated live traditional music performed in conjunction with women and men of his family including Lapuluŋ Dhamarrandji, Gawura Ganambarr and Dhamanydji Gaykamaŋu, and also captivating multimedia materials prepared by Dr Aaron Corn.

    Associate Professor Smallwood is a Birrigubba-Kalkadoon woman from Queensland, who is recognised for her work in human rights, and Indigenous health and higher education. Her lecture was entitled Human Rights and Indigenous Culture.

    The lectures were preceded by a performance of the Yanajanak song series from the Awurnbarna (Mt Borrodaile) region of north-west Arnhem Land led by the current custodian, Charlie Mangulda.

    The book Exploring the Music of Yothu Yindi with Mandawuy Yunupingu, written by Dr Aaron Corn, was also be launched.

    The lecture was part of CDU's Eighth Annual Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, which brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and performers from across Australia.

    About Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula

    Joe Neparrŋa Gumbula is descended from a long line of prominent Yolŋu leaders whose contributions to dialogue and understanding between Indigenous and other Australians date from the 1920s, and is a foremost authority on international collections of material culture from Arnhem Land.

    Dr Gumbula is best known to local Indigenous audiences as an eminent traditional musician, and a longstanding member of the seminal Yolngu band, Soft Sands. Yet over the past decade, he has also earned international renown as a leading authority on holdings of Yolngu cultural heritage in collections worldwide.

    In 2007, he became the first Yolŋu leader of a research project funded by the Australian Research Council, and he currently works as a Research Fellow in Curatorial Studies at the University of Sydney.

    Dr Gumbula frequently advises major state collections including Museum Victoria and the National Film and Sound Archives, and tours internationally as a director and musician with traditional companies such as the Gupapuyŋu Dancers.

    He was awarded the Doctor of Music honoris causa (honorary degree) by the University of Sydney for his contributions to scholarship and intercultural exchange in 2007.


    Yanajanak is a songset from the Awurnbarna (Mt Borrodaile) region of north-west Arnhem Land.

    It is said that the songs were originally performed by mimi spirits living in the vicinity, who taught them to humans.

    They have been passed down to the current custodian, Charlie Mangulda, by his fathers and grandfathers, all members of the Amurdak – speaking Bunitj clan. Yanajanak is renowned across a wide area encompassing Arnhem Land and beyond, and its singers are in much demand for funerals and Marnurrng ceremonies.

    This presentation will include performances of a selection of Yanajanak songs and related dances, as well as a brief talk discussing the songs’ origins, history and social context.

  • Acclaimed Indigenous singer songwriter, Kev Carmody presented the 9th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus on Saturday, August 16, 2008.

    Mr Carmody, best known for co-writing with Paul Kelly the iconic song “From Little Things Big Things Grow”, which traces the events of the Wave Hill Station walk-off and is solidly canonised in Australian protest-song culture.

    The 2008 lecture, entitled “Song, Story, History”, was given by Mr Carmody using guitar, music and storytelling.

    The annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture commemorates the Wave Hill Station walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari with his Gurindji people and other groups in August 1966, marking a catalyst for Aboriginal people across Australia to have their rights to traditional lands recognised and for those lands to be returned.

    The 2008 Lingiari Memorial Lecture was held at CDU’s Casuarina campus in the Mal Nairn Auditorium, Saturday 16 August at 7pm.

    The lecture was part of celebrations for the 7th Annual Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance held at the University from 16-17 August 2008. The Symposium brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and performers from across Australia.

  • Charles Darwin University hosted the 8th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture on Saturday 11 August at Casuarina Campus with key speakers The Honourable Fred Chaney AO and Associate Professor Sue Stanton.

    Marking 40 years since the Referendum, the 2007 lecture was titled 40 years since the Referendum: Learning from the past, walking into the future, and was a discussion of current Indigenous-related issues and events.

    About the key speakers

    The Honourable Fred Chaney AO

    The Honourable Fred Chaney AO is the Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia. He was born in Perth in 1941 and practiced law in New Guinea and Western Australia.

    He was involved in the Aboriginal Legal Service in a voluntary capacity in the early 1970s before entering the Senate in 1974. He was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1983 to 1990 and was Member for Pearce in the House of Representatives from 1990 to 1993. His ministerial appointments included Aboriginal Affairs, Social Security, and Minister Assisting the Minister for National Development and Energy.

    After leaving parliament he undertook research into Aboriginal affairs policy and administration as a research fellow with the Graduate School of Management at the University of Western Australia from 1993 to April 1995.

    He was appointed part-time member of the National Native Title Tribunal in 1994, full-time member in April 1995, and Deputy President in April 2000.

    In February 1995 he was appointed Chancellor of Murdoch University and in January 1997 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

    Associate Professor Sue Stanton

    Sue Stanton is Kungarakan-Gurindji born in Larrakia country, Darwin, Northern Territory. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (History) from the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) in 1995 and completed an MA (American Indian Studies: Law and Policy - International Indigenous Human Rights Law) from the University of Arizona in 1997.

    Prior to her appointment as Associate Professor, School of History and Politics, Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong (2005), Sue was Head of the Aboriginal Centre at Wollongong. She completed a political internship at the Australian National University in 1995 while working in the office of the Hon. Margaret Reynolds, Australian Parliament, Canberra.

    Sue was granted a Fulbright Scholarship in 1995 and undertook postgraduate studies in the USA. Before completing her MA in American Indian Studies, Sue participated in a number of programs in the States, including the Minority Leaders Fellowship Program in Washington DC, and completed the academic component of that program, Study of race and poverty in urban USA, at South Western University in Washington DC in 1995. She also completed two internships in Washington DC as part of this program – one with the National Urban Coalition (urban coalition advocacy and education group for inner city minority groups); and in the Office of Rev. Jesse Jackson at the National Rainbow Coalition.

    On her return to Australia, Sue was a research fellow and later Director at the Centre for Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management, Northern Territory University from 1997 until 2000.

The Vincent Lingiari Lecture is organised through the

Indigenous Leadership and Regional Outreach

Indigenous Leadership and Regional Outreach, is an Aboriginal led Portfolio uniquely dedicated to Indigenous capacity building, including in Indigenous research and in our community engagement.

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