Graduation for 1600 and honours for inspiring achievers

Just over 1600 students will receive their degrees during Flinders University’s 2014 April graduation ceremonies held on the Bedford Park campus this week.

The eight graduation ceremonies held over four days will also see three prominent Australians receive honorary awards for contributions to Flinders and to the wider community:  Aboriginal advocate Dr Tom Calma, environmental policy-maker Mr Ken Matthews, and developer and fund-raiser Mr Alan Young.

Flinders University’s Chancellor, Mr Stephen Gerlach, said that as well as a mark of the University’s own esteem and gratitude, the awards recognised the recipients’ roles in generating changes that have led to tangible improvements across diverse aspects of Australian society.

“These truly are inspiring achievers,” Mr Gerlach said.

An Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group of the Northern Territory, Dr Tom Calma AO will be made an honorary Doctor of the University in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in the areas of health, education, economic development, human rights and social justice on behalf of Aboriginal people. His career includes key posts as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and national Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Dr Calma’s 2005 Social Justice Report initiated the national Close the Gap campaign, and he was crucial in winning the agreement of the Council of Australian Governments to fund a combined federal and state response, the Closing The Gap program. He also played a role in setting up a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

A significant contributor to the academic life of Flinders University, Dr Calma supported the establishment of two Poche Centres of Indigenous Health in Adelaide and Alice Springs, and continues as Patron of the national network of four Poche Centres. He helped to shape the development and embedding of the university-wide Flinders Indigenous Engagement Framework. Since 2013, he has been Chancellor of the University of Canberra.

Also receiving a Doctor of the University is Mr Ken Matthews AO. Born and educated in New South Wales, Mr Matthews’ career in the public service saw him serve in senior roles in several government departments, initiating reforms in transport infrastructure, water resources and in the area of mining and pastoral leases and their impact on native title.

In his role at the National Water Commission he was instrumental in the conception of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, a key national research institute based at Flinders, The Commission committed jointly with the Australian Research Council to provide $29.5 million funding to the Centre over its initial five years.

Having retired as a chief executive from the Australian public service, Mr Matthews now serves on a number of public and private sector boards and has acted as a consultant for projects in the areas of government, water management, natural resource management and government policy. As current Chair of the Board of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT), he has played a pivotal role in the success of the Centre.

Mr Alan Young AM, who will receive a Companion of the University, is co-founder of leading stockbroking business, Baker Young. He has wide-ranging business interests in South Australia and has been highly active in funding, establishing and developing new businesses and enterprises, and providing management advice for businesses within the State.

Mr Young was instrumental in the planning, fund-raising and construction phases of the $30 million Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, located adjacent to Flinders Medical Centre at Bedford Park, which houses more than 100 Flinders University health and medical researchers working alongside a multi-disciplinary cancer care team. He was also heavily involved in the development of the $200 million flagship South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and in creating a home for the Adelaide Central School of Art at Glenside.

During Mr Young’s leadership of the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Foundation, more than $7 million has been raised for research projects and equipment in FMC and the School of Medicine.

In addition to the 1600 students attending the ceremonies, another 650 completed their degrees.

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