MS Deborah Cheetham

MS Deborah Cheetham




  • A world-renowned Indigenous opera singer, composer, playwright and creator of Australia’s first Indigenous opera, with a passion and strong commitment to improving access to careers in the arts for young Indigenous Australians. A Yorta Yorta woman, Ms Deborah Cheetham AO is a soprano, composer, playwright, producer, director and educator who has firmly established her place as an artist in great demand. Since her international debut in 1997, Ms Cheetham has forged a successful career performing in theatres and concert halls across Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, and at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 Rugby World Cup. In April 2007, she was awarded a prestigious two-year Fellowship from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, allowing her to create Australia’s first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer. The success of Pecan Summer led Ms Cheetham to establish the Short Black Opera Company, a national not-for-profit organisation devoted to the development of Indigenous opera singers. Ms Cheetham is currently Associate Dean (Indigenous) at the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, having served as the Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development from 2011 - 2014. Under Deborah’s leadership The Wilin Centre advanced it’s reputation for providing Indigenous artists with pathways to a future in the visual and performing arts and promotes and supports their dreams and aspirations. In 2010, Ms Cheetham was a finalist for the Australian of the Year in Victoria and in 2014 she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists and to innovation in performance. In March 2015 Ms Cheetham was inducted   



Education and training

  • A.Mus.A, Australian Music Examinations Board 1988
  • B.MUS.Ed, 1986

Awards and honors

  • Honour Roll of Victorian Women, 2015
  • Officer of the Order of Australia, AO, 2014
  • Rotary Vocational Service Award, 2013
  • Centenary Medal, awarded for contribution to the Arts during the Centenary of Federation., Australian Government, 2002


Available for supervision

  • Y