Dr. Atkinson completed his academic studies with LaTrobe University and was selected as Indigenous scholar of the year in 1996. His multidisciplinary studies in Archaeology, History, Politics, Legal Studies, and Human Rights, were used to complete a Ph.D. on the Yorta Yorta Struggle for Land Justice in 2000. This achievement gained him a lectureship in Indigenous Studies in the School of Social and Political Science, University of Melbourne. For the last two decades Dr. Atkinson has taught a course he designed, called On country Learning: Indigenous Studies. The course has achieved outstanding results as a community-based education program which gained him the honor of being awarded the A G Tucker Medal for Recognition of Outstanding Achievements, Excellence in Scholarship, and Academic contribution to the University of Melbourne Faculty of Arts, 2017. The subject was hailed by the Academic Board as the 'Jewel in the Crown of its Indigenous Studies academic program. Dr. Atkinson was chosen as one of the successful applicants for the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, established in May, 2021-see https://yoorrookjusticecommission.org.au/
Indigenous Scholar of the Year, 1997; Recipient of the A.G.Tucker Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2017; Australian Award for University Teaching, 2013; Visiting Indigenous Scholar, National University of Ireland Galway, 2006-2017.