Fred Chaney was born in Perth in 1941. He practised law in New Guinea and Western Australia until he entered the Senate in 1974. Fred was involved in the Aboriginal Legal Service in a voluntary capacity in the early 1970’s. He was in the Senate until 1990 and was leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1983 – 1990.
Among his Ministerial appointments were Aboriginal Affairs, Social Security and Minister Assisting the Minister for National Development and Energy. After leaving Parliament he undertook research into Aboriginal Affairs policy and administration as a Research Fellow with the Graduate School of Management at the University of Western Australia from 1993 – 1995. He was appointed Chancellor of Murdoch University in 1995 and continued in that capacity until 2003.
In 1994 he was apponted as a member of the National Native Title Tribunal, and was deputy President from 2000 – 2007
In January 1997 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.
He served as Co-Chair of Reconcilliation Australia Ltd from 2000 – 2005 and continues as a Director on the board.
In 2005 hewas appointed chairman of Desert Knowledge Australia
In 2007 he chaired the Consultation Committee on a Human Rights Act for Western Australia.
In 2008 he was awarded the Sir Ronald Wilson Leadership Award for ” Exceptional leadership in the fields of social justice, human rights, equality and anti racism”