Victoria University awarded an Honorary Degree to Kirsty Sword Gusmao on 14 May.
She was admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, in recognition of her outstanding community service in championing the importance of education and improving the lives of women and children.
Victoria University, Chancellor Mr George Pappas said, “Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmao was awarded an honorary degree by the University in recognition of her outstanding community service in championing the importance of education and improving the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
“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.”
Dr Sword Gusmao said, “Investment in education is an investment in the future of any country.”
“As the Goodwill Ambassador for Education of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and as a mother, and being a teacher, I am very much aware of education’s vital role in building a nation and its future of prosperity and dignity.”
She said, “This is a very special honour to me. It is a very lovely acknowledgement to the development work I have done in Timor-Leste.”
Dr Sword Gusmao has had a range of positions relating to education. In 2001 she founded the not for profit organisation, the Alola Foundation which she continues to chair, which addresses the needs of Timor-Leste women survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence.
In 2007 Kirsty Sword Gusmao was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Education of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and in 2008 she was asked by the then Minister of Education, Dr Joao Cancio Freitas, to serve as Chair of the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO and Co-Chair of the National Education Commission.
As President of the Dili Institute of Technology (DIT), a non-government, not for profit institution created to deliver vocational education targeting the needs of youth, veterans and their children, Kirsty Sword Gusmao signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Victoria University in 2009.
She has continued to be an important force in fostering relationships between DIT and Victoria University and continues her work to improve educational outcomes for the people of Timor-Leste.
Editor’s Note: Photos of Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmao are available on request
Public Affairs Unit, Victoria University,
9919 4322; 0434 602884; [email protected]