Adjunct Professor The Honourable Matt Foley

“The great Aboriginal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal grasped the words, thoughts and actions to make a difference so I think that’s something for the newcomers starting out at uni to give some thought to.”

The Honourable Matt Foley is a barrister, former minister and social worker with a lifetime of service to the people of Queensland.

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1971, Mr Foley held a particular interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. He worked for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service from 1974-1978. During this time he coordinated the Legal Service’s submissions to the 1976-1977 Lucas Commission, leading to the law reform of police questioning of Indigenous Australians and others facing disadvantage before the law.

His advocacy for Indigenous Australians and others facing disadvantage drew him to study law. He was admitted as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia in 1983, and later to the High Court of New Zealand.

From 1985-87 Mr Foley served as President of the Qld Council for Civil Liberties.

In 1989, Mr Foley was elected as the Member for Yeronga in the Queensland Parliament, where he served until 2004. Mr Foley served as a Minister in four governments including as Attorney-General and Arts Minister for the Goss and Beattie governments.

As Arts Minister, Mr Foley was the Minister responsible for establishing the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, the South Brisbane home of the Queensland Theatre Company including the Bille Brown Studio (now Theatre) and the Playhouse at the Cultural Centre in Southbank. He also introduced the Public Art Policy requiring artwork to be “built in” to the design and construction of new Queensland Government buildings.

He is passionate about gender equality and during his time as Attorney-General was responsible for the appointment of many women Justices to the Queensland Supreme Court. During this time, Mr Foley  introduced Queensland’s first legislation on de facto property rights for opposite and same sex couples. He also introduced the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 which revolutionised access to justice for people with a decision-making incapacity such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Foley remains committed to his work, regularly delivering lectures to social work students, and continues to offer his professional services to the disadvantaged.


UQ Alumnus of the Year (created by Alumni Friends)
Image of Matt Foley


Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Social Work
Bachelor of Arts