'Paul Collis writer and activist, began his undergraduate communications degree in Newcastle in 1995 but went back to work after his second year.
Eight years later, while working in Alice Springs, he decided he would finish his degree before his credit expired. By the time he went back to Newcastle and reapplied his degree had been closed. He then applied to the University of Canberra where he completed his Bachelor of Communications in Multimedia in 2005 before being awarded a Creative Communications Honours degree. For the course he wrote a 14,000-word novella on the identity of an Aboriginal boy in his community and says it was the most liberating experience of his life.
Paul was the first Aboriginal student to achieve honours at the University of Canberra and the first to win the Herbert Burton Medal, the University's most prestigious award.'
For much of his working life, Collis had being a cultural teacher and mentor, including as an Aboriginal arts officer, medical education worker, teacher in juvenile detention centres and adult prisons; and was a manager of a homeless Aboriginal boys' hostel. Collis had also been widely involved in Aboriginal youth services, the arts and sports, and as an Activist for Indigenous justice. (Source: ABC website: www.abc.net.au; Koori Mail, issue 550, 2013)