The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Council, Executive and staff were saddened to learn of the passing of foundation member of the AIATSIS Council, Emeritus Professor Derek John Mulvaney AO CMG.
Professor Mulvaney served in many roles with AIATSIS’ first incarnation, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS). He served as the AIAS Acting Principal, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the AIAS Council. He was so committed to the Institute he served as a Council member for over twenty years and is responsible for many of its virtues.
This includes the role of the AIAS in supporting the development of Australian archaeology, a subject he devoted much of his life to. He was as the first university-trained pre-historian to make Australia his subject, and he has been justly described as the ‘Father of Australian Archaeology’.
Professor Mulvaney is credited with the discovery of the oldest recorded dingo remains in Australia, and evidence of a massive flood of the Murray thousands of years ago. He is also known for his work with Jim Bowler and Rhys Jones at Lake Mungo, on the discovery of artefacts and human remains now known as ‘Mungo lady’.
In 2004 Professor Mulvaney was awarded the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology, Australian Archaeology’s highest honour.
Professor Mulvaney bore witness to many changes at the Institute, some he agreed with and others he did not, but was always a great supporter of the work undertaken by its staff.
We acknowledge and pay tribute to the life, achievements and legacy of one of the founding fathers of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
Vale Professor Derek John Mulvaney.
Read Professor Mulvaney's Wentworth Lecture on the foundation of AIATSIS - A sense of making history: Australian Aboriginal Studies 1961-1985
Watch Professor Mulvaney discuss the early years of AIATSIS in the video below.