Flinders University has awarded the degree of Doctor of the University to Dr Peter Toyne (pictured), legislator, educator and a key figure in the Northern Territory’s development.
“Over three decades, Dr Peter Toyne has made an extraordinary contribution to the social development of the Northern Territory and the nation as a remote community advisor, educator, researcher, technology innovator, legislator, artist and vigorous advocate for Flinders University and the Centre for Remote Health (CRH) in the Northern Territory,” said Flinders Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber.
Dr Toyne has been a strong supporter of Flinders and the CRH, initially as NT Health Minister and since 2006 as a member of the CRH Board of Management. He was essential to the development of a Centre of Excellence for education and research in the Katherine region.
With science and education degrees and experience in the Victorian education system, Dr Toyne moved to the Northern Territory in 1981 to work as an adviser at Utopia community.
From 1983 to 1993 he returned to the education system at Yuendumu in Central Australia, where his community development activities played a critical role in establishing an early artists’ co-operative as well as teacher education programs in association with Batchelor College.
In 1987 Dr Toyne assumed leadership of all education programs at Yuendumu, and his reforms included a strong process of Aboriginalisation, resulting in five Aboriginal teachers joining the staff, annual school camps in traditional country, and bilingual teaching programs.
His remote area experience inspired his doctoral research on relationships between Warlpiri and non-Aboriginal people, resulting in his 2000 PhD from La Trobe University.
In the 1990s, Dr Toyne established a video network linking seven centres in the Northern Territory, including four remote Western Desert Aboriginal communities, a landmark information communication technology initiative in Australia and globally.
Dr Toyne’s political career commenced as a Labor member of the Territory’s Legislative Assembly in 1996. As Shadow Minister for Education and Training, Aboriginal Affairs, Advanced Technology and Primary Industry he developed policies on education, Aboriginal affairs, Telecommunications, crime prevention, and youth affairs. These policies were taken to the electorate in 2001when the Labor Party won government and subsequently implemented.
Dr Toyne held three ministerial portfolios, overseeing reform to Freedom of Information and criminal code legislation and to policy changes on preventable chronic disease, child and maternal health, and Indigenous health.
Since Dr Toyne’s retirement from Parliament in 2006, he has resumed his art career as an exhibited oil painter and is now a nationally recognised glass worker. He is also currently leading advocacy for National Broadband Network resources for remote Australia.