A Day in the Life of Megan Davis

Champion. Agent of Justice. Trailblazer.

I'm an Aboriginal woman from south west and south east Queensland. My mob are Cobble Cobble. I love my family and especially my 15 nieces and nephews. I communicate with the jarjums via Snapchat daily. It's hard living away from country. I love speaking to my Mum daily and I love rugby league. I work a lot. I have a lot of demands on my time which is not unusual for Aboriginal academics. There are obligations and expectations to support the mob and give back.

I started at UNSW in late 2001 working with Professor George Williams at UNSW Law. I was the first employee of the Gilbert & Tobin Centre and was the Bill of Rights Project Director. I was lucky to have George as a boss and mentor. He taught me how to write and how to be an academic. He's been instrumental in my career.

I left UNSW for a short period and came back to run the Indigenous Law Centre. In 2010, I became the first Aboriginal Australian elected to a United Nations body. I was privileged to have an awesome Dean of Law, Professor David Dixon, who fully supported this UN work and it's been a privilege to serve for 6 years including a year as the Chair.
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  • My alarm goes off at 30-minute intervals from 6:30 to 8:00 am - I love my sleep and I am not a morning person. Eventually I wake up and check twitter. I get my news via Twitter because it's curated - I go through the lists for Donald Trump, the UN, the Australian and White House press galleries, political news on the African continent, Major League Baseball and the Aboriginal community.
  • 7:00 - 8:00 am - I choose an outfit depending on the appointments for the day. My wardrobe is mostly variations of black, and Valentino flats for lots of walking around campus.
  • I live near UNSW so it's a cruisy walk to work. I listen to music and usually get four to five songs in by the time I get to the Law School.
  • 9:00 - 10:00 am - Managing my diary is very difficult. With UN work I can get up to 200 emails a day. My awesome Executive Assistant, Laura Hunter, helps manage it. I have requests to speak at events -- orations, keynotes or academic conference papers that cover a broad range of activity from my UN work to constitutional law, to my work in Aboriginal communities. I spend a while settling my calendar.
  • 10:00 am -1:00 pm - I meet with my head researcher for a review I am chairing into NSW Government Aboriginal Out-of-Home Care. The Review is examining the reasons for the high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removal. It is a review that many Aboriginal people are watching closely. I am working out timelines for yarning with the mob across NSW as part of the methodology of the review.
  • 1:00 - 2:00pm - I settle the legal issues papers, agenda and annotated agenda for the Perth Constitutional Dialogue that I am responsible for as a member of the Prime Minister's Referendum Council. The Dialogues are a series of meetings of Indigenous Australians being held around Australia.
  • 2.00 - 3:00 pm - I spend an hour reading Paul Bloom's new book, Against Empathy. He argues empathy is a poor basis of public policy making. People empathise with the Aboriginal people's plight and as a consequence support symbolic constitutional recognition or mentioning Aboriginal people in the Constitution, without properly listening to Aboriginal people and pausing to reflect on what structural reform is needed to enable the Aboriginal community to exercise control over their own destiny.
  • 3:00 - 4:00 pm - I have a teleconference with Prime Minister & Cabinet and colleagues Pat Anderson AO and Noel Pearson on the Aboriginal Constitutional Dialogues for Perth. We have run Dialogues in Hobart, Broome, Dubbo and Darwin I have an excellent team from UNSW Law who attend the Dialogues with me including Associate Professor Sean Brennan, Associate Professor Gabrielle Appleby and Gemma McKinnon, a young Aboriginal lawyer and academic from Wilcannia. It's great to have young Aboriginal public lawyers coming through as there as so few in Australia.
    I ring Mum. We talk many times during the day. My mum is lovely. And she's very, very funny so I usually ring her up to have a good laugh.
  • 4:00 - 5:00 pm - I manage a catch-up call with my colleague Reuben Bolt. He is the director of Nura Gili and and is a rising star of Indigenous higher education. We have been working closely on the Indigenous component of the UNSW 2025 Strategy. I love working with Nura Gili and its amazing dedicated staff like the great Mick Peachey.
  • 5:00 - 6:00 pm - I spend an hour on Indigenous Law Centre work. We are transitioning our law journals to online. The Indigenous Law Bulletin has been instrumental in law reform since it was set up in 1981 and we've tried for 5 years to keep it going so it's an uncertain future. To go fully online will mean we can't print for remote communities and other Aboriginal communities.
  • 6:00 - 9:00 pm - I do a bit of writing. I usually get the bulk of my research work done in the evenings. I have a number of books being published and I am writing a few texts including a critique of reconciliation. I love this time. Writing and research is what I love about being a scholar.
  • I get picked up from work by James. He's a rugby league journalist so we will watch NRL news before bed. I am writing a proposal for a book on the importance of rugby league to Aboriginal communities. Rugby League arrived in Australia around the same time Aboriginal people were segregated onto reserves and missions across NSW and QLD after Federation. Rugby League is inextricably linked to our culture. Recently I had a piece published in Inside Sport on this.