About Professor Davis

Professor Megan Davis is the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous. As PVCI, Prof Davis leads UNSW's Indigenous Strategy and is the Director of Nura Gili: Centre for Indigenous Programs.

Prof Davis is a Professor of Law and the Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law. She is a Cobble Cobble woman and a renowned constitutional lawyer 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. 

Prof Davis is an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. She is also a member of the NSW Sentencing Council and an Australian Rugby League Commissioner. Prof Davis was Director of the UNSW Indigenous Law Centre (2007-2017) and Director of the Bill of Rights project at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law (2002-2004). 

PVCI - Professor Megan Davis

The Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous has overall responsibility for ensuring that UNSW delivers on its agenda for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as nurturing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars and showcasing and developing UNSW research across important areas of Indigenous policy. Much of this work is outlined in UNSW's Indigenous Strategy developed by Professor Megan Davis. As PVC Indigenous, Prof Davis leads a team (based at Nura Gili and The Chancellery) across a diverse portfolio covering Indigenous Strategy, Education and Research. 

UNSW's Indigenous Strategy was the first of its kind at UNSW. The strategy takes a holistic approach that is ground by three pillars: Culture and Country, Give Back and Grow Our Own.

Prof Davis is currently the Chair and an Expert Member of the UN Human Rights Council to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples based in Geneva (2019-2022), a position she was also elected to in 2017-2019.  

Prof Davis was formerly Chair and Expert Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2011-2016). During this period of UN service, she was the:

  • Rapporteur of the UN Expert Group on an Optional Protocol to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2015
  • Rapporteur of the UN Expert Group on Combating violence against Indigenous women and girls in 2011 
  • UN Rapporteur for the UN Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Youth in 2012.

Prof Davis has extensive experience as an international lawyer at the United Nations, participating in the drafting of the UNDRIP from 1999-2005 and is a former UN Fellow of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Prof Davis is a constitutional lawyer who researches in public law and public international law. Her current research focuses on constitutional design, democratic theory and Indigenous peoples. 

She has been the leading constitutional lawyer working on Indigenous constitutional reform since 2011. In 2015 she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Referendum Council and designed the deliberative constitutional dialogue process the Council undertook. In 2011, Prof Davis was also appointed to the Prime Minister's Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution. As Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law, she continues her work on constitutional recognition and legal discussions on the constitutional issues relating to the referendum model.

Prof Davis is co-chair of the Uluru Dialogue based at the Indigenous Law Centre, who run educational campaigns on the constitutional and legal reforms called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

The Uluru Statement

In 2016, Prof Davis was appointed Commissioner to the Queensland Commission of Inquiry into Youth Detention, and was the Chair of the 2019 Family is Culture, Review into Aboriginal Out of Home Care in NSW. 

Public recognition

Professor Davis was named Australia’s most influential women in The Australian Financial Review/Qantas 100 Women of Influence Awards and was awarded the overall winner of the Public Policy section. Prof Davis was named in the 2017 Australian Financial Review annual power list and was ranked number 7 on the Cultural power list for her work on constitutional reform and delivering the Uluru Statement From the Heart. 

She was ANU Alumni of the Year in 2018 and received the United Nations Association of Australia QLD UN Award in 2016. In 2015, Prof Davis was awarded the 58th E.S. Meyers Memorial Medal by the UQ Medical Society and was awarded the University of Queensland Acorn Award by Duchesne College in 2015. In 2014, Prof Davis was awarded a University of Queensland Alumni Award for services to the United Nations and constitutional reform and in 2013 was awarded the National Australia Bank/Women's Agenda Inspirational Ambassador Award. Professor Davis was also awarded the 2010 NAIDOC Scholar of the Year. 

Prof Davis holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Australian History) from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Master of Laws (International Law) and Doctor of Philosophy from the Australian National University.

In the media

Select writing

Griffith Review 60 | Megan Davis

Walking together – truth before justice

In a sweeping essay, Prof Davis explains the long-fought road that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its calls for a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution and for Makkaratta – coming together after a struggle, through agreement-making and truth.