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Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao to be awarded Honorary Degree by Victoria University

Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao will be awarded an Honorary Degree by Victoria University on Wednesday 14 May 2014. She will be admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, for her outstanding community service in championing the importance of education and improving the lives of women and children. She has worked tirelessly to promote educational initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste; and generated support for women’s rights and the education of women in order to nurture them as leaders. Mrs Sword Gusmao was educated at the University of Melbourne and Monash University and she holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Diploma in Education. It was at Melbourne University that she first met students from Timor-Leste and became an advocate for independence for Timor-Leste. On her husband’s election as President of Timor-Leste in 2002 Mrs Sword Gusmao took on a range of positions relating to education. In 2001 she founded the Alola Foundation which she continues to chair. The Foundation is a not for profit organisation which addresses the needs of Timor-Leste women survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. In 2007 Mrs 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, Mrs 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 VU and continues her work to improve educational outcomes for the people of Timor-Leste. There will be a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY at 4.35 – gowning. Where: Main Committee Room, Members Stand at Flemington Racecourse, Epsom Road, Flemington When:. Wednesday 14 May 2014 Time: Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao will be available to speak to the media from 4.15-4.30. Editors Note: Photos of Mrs Kirsty Sword Gusmao are available on request after the ceremony. Media contact: Christine White, Public Affairs Unit, Victoria University, 9919 4322; 0434 602884; media@vu.edu.au

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