Melville Thomas

Assistant Professor, Mr

  • The University of Western Australia (M303), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Mel is a lecturer, Coordinator of the Indigenous Major and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He graduated from The University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Laws in 1996 and a Master of Laws by Research in 2002 on the human rights foundation of international law. Melville has written about Indigenous rights, International Law jurisprudence, parliamentary privilege and minority rights and is the author of two books "Gay Humanism and Higher Education - A Rights Based Approach" (2019) and "Meaning in International Law - From Pericles to Trump" (2020), where he argues for a more effective international legal order post Covid19.

In 2020 Mel was recipient of a Senior Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy.

Mel has worked in various capacities at the School of Indigenous Studies: Co-ordination of the Aboriginal Pre-Law Program (2009-2011); Co-ordination and teaching in the Advanced Diploma in Indigenous Legal Studies (2013-2016). He has also acted as the School’s Associate Dean of Research. Mel's other teaching roles at UWA include teaching in the UWA Aboriginal Orinetation Course on socio-legal subjects and he has tutored Constitional Law at UWA's Faculty of Law. Mel is the convenor of the Social Justice Forum of The Australasian Law Teachers' Association Journal. 

Previous positions

Mel was a Lecturer at the West Coast College of TAFE from 1996 to 1999, where he taught legal studies and human rights in the department of Community Services.

Teaching overview

INDG1150 - Aboriginal Encounters - Strangers in Our Backyard

INDG3400 - Indigenous Peoples and Global Issues

INDG2200 - Advanced Indigenous Legal Studies

Teaching Awards

2021 - Nomination for Teaching Excelllence

2020 - Awarded a Senior Fellowship - The Higher Education Academy

2018 – Semester 2: Students’ Guild Choice Awards for INDG1150 – Aboriginal Encounters: Strangers in our Backyard

2016 – Excellence in Teaching Award, School of Indigenous Studies, UWA

2009 - Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education in Australia with Professors Milroy, Morgan and Bartlett

1999 – Jan Brennan Memorial Award for TAFE Teaching (West Coast College of TAFE, Carine Campus)

Roles and responsibilities

Indigenous Knowledge, History and Heritage Major Coordinator

Indigenous Law Coordinator

Chair, School of Indigenous Studies Teaching and Learning Committee

Academic Board Member





Book: Meaning in International Law - From Pericles to Trump Authorspress, 1-174. A1 research output



M Thomas, Gay Humanism and Higher Education - A Rights Based Approach, Authorspress, New Delhi, pp. 1-134. A1 research output

ABC Digi-Book

M Thomas, A history of Aboriginal rights in WA, Digital or Visual Products, ABC Education, 2019, Non-traditional research output

Articles/chapters Sole author (peer reviewed C1)

MA Thomas, ‘Aboriginal Resistance to Imperialistic and Nationalistic Ideologies’ in KBS Krishna Ed Homogeneity in Heterogeneity – Memory and Resistance in Aboriginal Literature from Around the World, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2018, pp. 52-72 B1

MA Thomas, ‘Critical and Indigenous Peoples’ Perspectives of Universal Human Rights’ The Cultural and Literacy Nationalism of Fourth World, 1, December 2015, 2, pp. 147-158. C1

MA Thomas, 'Representations of Justice and Human Rights in Literature, Drama and Popular Culture', The Journal of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (ISAA), 12, 1, 2013, pp. 51-65. Output category: C1

MA Thomas ‘Cosmopolitanism, Law and the Challenge of Globalisation’ Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, vol 1, 2012 Output category: C1

MA Thomas ‘A Legal Positivist Mind with a Natural Law Heart’ (Book Review: Pamela Burton’s From Moree to Mabo: The Mary Gaudron Story, UWA Publishing, 2011) Journal of the Independent Scholars of Australia Association vol 1, 2011

MA Thomas, ‘Law and Gay Identity’ Australasian Law Teachers Association Refereed Conferecne Papers 1, (2007) E1

MA Thomas ‘The Search for the Foundation of International Law’ Outskirts 2005 (UWA) vol 12, Online Journal at: Output category E1

MA Thomas ‘Indigenous Jurisprudence and Legal Education in the 21st Century’ ISAA Review: The Journal of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia, November 2005, vol 4, pp. 6-13 Output category: C1


MA Thomas, J Milroy and R Bartlett ‘Teaching and Learning the Law: The University of Western Australia Indigenous Law Program’ Indigenous Law Bulletin, 2010, vol 7 (19) Output category: C1 (DEST: .67 points)

MA Thomas and B Farmer ‘Aboriginal Law Students at the University of Western Australia’ Indigenous Law Bulletin, 2005, vol 11, p 6-11. Output category: C1 (DEST: .50 points)

H Goodwin, A Stuart and MA Thomas ‘Imprisonment for Contempt of the Western Australian Parliament’ The University of Western Australia Law Review Vol 25 (1), July 1995, pp. 189-201.Output category: C1.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research expertise keywords

  • Human rights
  • Indigenous legal education
  • International law jurisprudence and history
  • Indigenous Rights
  • LGBTIQ rights history


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