High profile women awarded honorary degrees

Victoria University honours two great Australian women – The Hon Julia Gillard and Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao – at the University’s graduation ceremonies this week.

Kirsty Sword Gusmao at VU's graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening

Ms Gillard and Mrs Sword Gusmao will be admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, in recognition of their significant contributions to education.

Victoria University, Chancellor Mr George Pappas said, “On behalf of Victoria University Council I am delighted to acknowledge the work of The Hon Julia Gillard and Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao in promoting the crucial importance of education in developing a strong and dynamic society.”

Julia Gillard, who was awarded her degree at graduations on Tuesday night, championed education throughout her political career. Her early leadership roles (1983) included being National Education Vice-President of the Australian Union of Students and later President of the National Union of Students.

Mr Pappas said, “We wish to honour Julia Gillard for her outstanding contribution to Australian society as a Member of Federal Parliament representing the western region of Melbourne. Ms Gillard championed important reforms of the education sector designed to enhance educational outcomes for all Australians.

“On becoming Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, she provided strong leadership and introduced significant social initiatives including sweeping changes to the delivery of disability care,” he said.

Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao will be awarded an honorary degree by the University on 14 May 2014. The honour recognises her outstanding community service in championing the importance of education in improving the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

Mr Pappas said, “She has worked tirelessly to promote educational initiatives and to generate support for women’s rights and the education of women in order to nurture them as leaders.

“Victoria University is proud to be honouring these two extraordinary women as they exemplify the University’s mission to provide opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to further their education and make a difference in the world. It will be a memorable week for all of us at VU.”

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