Former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks – whose strong commitment to Melbourne’s west helped it become one of the fastest growing and most vibrant regions in Australia – was awarded an honorary degree by Victoria University on 12 December 2017.
Dr Bracks was admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa, in recognition of nearly 30 years of distinguished service to Victoria, in particular to VU’s heartland of Melbourne’s west.
Dr Bracks served as Victoria’s 44th premier from 1999 to 2007, and as the member for Williamstown from 1994 to 2007. He led the Labor Party to a minority government in 1999, defeating Jeff Kennett’s Liberal and National Coalition government, and to a landslide victory in 2002. He won a third election in 2006, but resigned as Premier in 2007.
A longstanding advocate of Victoria University, Dr Bracks is chair of the VU-led West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA), a collaboration of local governments, businesses, and the community. WoMEDA recently released an economic development strategy focused on creating high-skills job clusters in the region, especially in Footscray, Sunshine and Werribee.
As Premier, Dr Bracks invested heavily in education and skills, driving Victoria’s retention rate to Year 12 to one of the highest in Australia. He also helped rebuild Victoria’s infrastructure and services while maintaining strong budgets and managing a growing economy.
Dr Bracks was educated at Ballart’s St Patrick’s College and the Ballarat College of Advanced Education (now Federation University). He began his career as a commerce teacher at Ballarat’s Sacred Heart College. During the 1980s, he worked in Ballarat government before being appointed executive director of the Ballarat Education Centre, then manager of the Victorian Government’s Employment Policy and Program Division. Dr Bracks later became an adviser to former Premiers, John Cain, and his successor, Joan Kirner.
Dr Bracks is a leading advocate for multiculturalism and Aboriginal reconciliation. He is patron of the Victorian branch of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a director of: Balibo House Trust; Burnet Institute; Eureka Democracy Centre; Hadassah Australia Foundation; Western Health Foundation; and the Western Melbourne Tourism Board. He is also a pro-bono adviser to the government of Timor-Leste, and worked alongside its first Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmão.
Photos are available of Dr Steve Bracks receiving his honorary degree from Victoria University.