Hall of Fame Class of 2019
As one of the first Aboriginal Australians to complete a university degree in adult education, Jack Beetson has served as a vanguard for literacy and adult education initiatives throughout Australia. A Ngemba Aboriginal man from western New South Wales, he has played a significant role in Aboriginal Adult Education locally, nationally and internationally.
Beetson has labored long and hard in the broader field of Aboriginal advancement and self-determination. His deep understanding of the history and culture of his people, informed by the experience gained from his work as an Aboriginal adult educator, has given him unrivaled opportunities to promote and strengthen the role of adult education in the lives of indigenous peoples.
He represented Australia at UNESCO’s CONFINTEA V conference in Hamburg, where he led the formulation of UNESCO’s first manifesto on Indigenous adult education. In 2001, his work won him a United Nations award for “Dialogue Among Civilizations,” for which he was recognized in both the NSW State Parliament and the Australian National Senate.
He was convener of the inaugural Indigenous Education Committee of the Asia and South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE), on which he served as an executive member. He also represented indigenous peoples at the United Nations, where he was a member of the drafting committee for Article 15 and 16 of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Beetson served as the executive director of Tranby Aboriginal College, Australia’s oldest community controlled Aboriginal adult education provider, and as the foundation president of the Federation of Independent Aboriginal Education Providers (FIAEP). He has also served as director of the FIAEP, a member of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs, A Task Force on Aboriginal Education, a consultant and course development adviser for the National Indigenous Leadership Program, and executive member of the National Board for Adult Learning Australia. In 2008, he was appointed as an adjunct professor in the University of New England.
He is currently the executive director of Beetson and Associates, a consultancy group that delivers adult education and development services in Australia and the Pacific region. He is also the executive director of the Literacy for Life Foundation, an organization he helped found in 2013, which aims to effect significant improvements in Indigenous Adult Literacy across Australia.