A new award has been created at UNSW Art & Design to honour our Indigenous Elder in Residence Yuwaalaraay man, Vic Chapman PSM.  

Named the Vic Chapman Equity Award this initiative aims to provide a supportive pathway for a talented student and to recognise, Mr Chapman and his late wife Ruth, by celebrating and reflecting their enduring contributions to our society.

The Award was launched with a reception at UNSW Galleries which featured a moving address by Mr Chapman where he shared some of his wisdom with students, staff, artists and VIP guests.

A pioneering Indigenous leader, longstanding educator and seminal mentor within Indigenous arts and cultural communities, Mr Chapman’s life story is about to be captured in documentary produced by Matilda Films. 

Uncle Vic, as he’s known to many on the Art & Design campus in Paddington, was the first Aboriginal person to qualify as a teacher in the New South Wales education system, later becoming the first Aboriginal principal appointed to a New South Wales public school.   

He is now 85 years old and can say that he’s been actively involved in bettering the lives of Indigenous young people for more than 65 years. 

For Chapman, "… education is the way out of the big hole into which we have fallen or been pushed. Particularly for Indigenous people, because we've gone through that period when regulations almost had monopoly control over the lives of Indigenous people. Regulation which stated with whom we could associate, where we could live, had control over our money, control over our kids.

"In the school system when I became a principal we had two handbooks which governed the conduct of schools. In the book related to personnel, it stated that a person of Indigenous descent could be barred from the public school system on the protest of one non-indigenous member of the community; and that was in the teachers' handbook up until 1972.

"When I got in a position of authority where I could have a say about what happened in a school situation, I would constantly remind my co-workers what a great responsibility they had to 'bend the twig'…”

Everyone is welcome to contribute.

This fund can be supported by all members of our community and staff. All amounts, small or large make a collective contribution and difference. Your donation will support an equity student, with a top up Award of $5,000 for a year. With support from donations, the fund aims to offer one Award every year.