Honorary Doctorates

Council confers the degree of Doctor of the University in recognition of distinction by the person in public service or service to the University, or in recognition of distinguished contribution by the person in a field of academic endeavour and in accordance with University policy Honorary Degrees.  

View past award recipients.

2018 award recipients

The Honourable Greg Combet AM

Greg Combet Greg Combet is well known for his public roles as the leader of the Australian Council of
 Trade Unions and as a Labor Government Minister. He served as Minister for Industry
 and Innovation, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for
 Defence Personnel, Science and Material amongst other roles between 2007 and 2013.

 Following two terms in Parliament Mr Combet is now pursuing a career in the
 superannuation industry and the private sector. He is Deputy Chair of IFM Investors; a
 Director of ME bank; Deputy Chair of Industry Super Australia; and Chair, Independent
 Expert Panel on Interim Emissions Reduction Targets for the Victorian Government.
 He also does a variety of private consulting work.

Mr Combet is a proven leader, strategist, complex problem solver and crisis manager with extensive, hands-on knowledge of Australian industry. He is the co-author of The Fights of My Life and was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006.

Citation (pdf)

Mr Peter Gago AC

Peter Gago

 After completing a Bachelor of Science (Ed) from the University of Melbourne, Mr Gago
 launched his career as a science and mathematics teacher before succumbing to a long
 held interest in wine, often referred to as 'the grip of the grape', which saw him relocate
 to Adelaide and complete a Bachelor of Applied Science (Oenology) at Roseworthy

 After graduating as Dux, Mr Gago joined the winemaking team at Penfolds in 1989,
 initially with sparkling wines, before moving on to reds as Penfolds Red Wine

With a natural affinity and passion for winemaking, he quickly became an integral part of the winemaking team and in 2002 he was appointed as Penfolds Chief Winemaker.

Mr Gago spends the first, and most important half of the year winemaking. Labouring from vineyard to winery, ensuring that Penfolds winemaking and viticultural practices are world-class, and understanding the nuances of each vineyard, region and style. Post vintage, he enthusiastically embarks on his other role as an ambassador and educator. As only the fourth custodian of Penfolds' world famous Grange, Mr Gago is in high demand internationally and he relishes taking South Australian wines to the world. The exposure keeps him sharp, enthused and well-versed in world wine styles. With Dr Patrick Iland OAM, he has co-authored five books on wine.

In 2017 he became South Australia's Great Wine Capitals Global Ambassador and was appointed a Companion of The Order of Australia (AC).

Citation (pdf)

Mr William Muirhead AM

 Bill Muirhead AM, is a South Australian who completed his education in London. 
 He  began his advertising career in 1970 with Ogilvy & Mather before joining Saatchi &
  Saatchi in 1972. He is the former Chief Executive and President of Saatchi & Saatchi
 Worldwide. In 1995, he was a Founding Partner of M&C Saatchi together with David 
 Kershaw, Maurice Saatchi and Jeremy Sinclair and was responsible for establishing the 
 Company’s overseas offices.

 Mr Muirhead has a keen interest in political advertising. His work in advertising helped
 advance the interests of the Conservative Party in 1991 and he led the team that helped
 the party win the 1992 election. With Jeremy Sinclair, he picked up the Conservative
Party’s election campaign in 2015, which again saw the party elected with a clear majority.

In April 2007 he was appointed Agent General for South Australia by Premier Mike Rann. His appointment was extended by Premier Jay Weatherill in 2015. Mr Muirhead started the first South Australia Club in London in 2011; the Club is a proven success, now in its seventh year and growing rapidly in membership and reputation.

Mr Muirhead was a co-founder in 1985 of the Famous Porkinson Banger Company together with Norman Parkinson, the celebrated English portrait and fashion photographer.

In 2013, he became a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia, for significant service to the community of South Australia through the promotion of international trade.

Citation (pdf)

Ms Deborah Cheetham AO

 Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has
 been a leader in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years.

 In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Ms Cheetham was appointed as an 
 Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for distinguished service to the performing
 arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of
 Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance.

 In April 2007 she was awarded a prestigious two-year Fellowship from the
 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.
 This fellowship has allowed her to create her second major theatrical work
 Australia’s first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer. In 2010 Ms Cheetham brought
 together Australia’s first classically trained Indigenous ensemble to present the
 world premiere of Pecan Summer.

The success of Pecan Summer has led Ms Cheetham to create Short Black Opera Pty Ltd, a national not-for-profit company for the development of Indigenous opera singers and has produced and three subsequent seasons in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

In 2017 she was invited to perform an excerpt from her latest work Eumeralla, a War Requiem for Peace in the ancient language of the Gunditjmara people, at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco for the opening of the Venice Biennale.

Citation (pdf)

Adjunct Associate Professor Monica Oliphant AO

 Monica Oliphant is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of South
 Australia and a University Fellow at Charles Darwin University. She also runs her
 own Consultancy, Monica Oliphant Research Scientist.

 She worked 18 years for the electricity utility ETSA as a Research Scientist in the
 areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency and was involved in the South
 Australian Government’s wind resource assessment program in the late 1980s
 which put South Australia in a prime position for wind energy investment in the
 State that started about 15 years ago.

 Adjunct A/Prof Oliphant was President of the International Solar Energy Society
 2008/09 and in this capacity and as a current Board member of the Society has 
 travelled the world speaking at Conferences and meetings usually identifying herself as both a Past President of ISES and as an Adjunct A/Prof of the University of South Australia. In presentations she has been unashamedly proud of the status of renewable energy in South Australia and the work being done at the University in this area. She has contributed to projects at Mawson Lakes, Lochiel Park and others and is on the Strategic Management Committee of the Research Node of the CRC for Low Carbon Living. 

Adjunct A/Prof Oliphant has participated on many Australian Federal and State Government Committees, among them Australia’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Review 2002/03 that brought in the first incentives for residential solar photovoltaics (solar panels). She was later a Board Member of the South Australian Premier’s Round Table in Sustainability and then RenewablesSA when the State Feed in Tariff was brought in.

She received an AO in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of her work in Renewable Energy and was named 2016 Senior South Australian of the Year.

Citation (pdf)


2017 award recipients


Mr Curtis Wong

Curtis WongCurtis Wong has been a pioneer in the development of new media that is accessible to all and he is respected around the world for pushing the boundaries of digital information and interactive learning to provide greater public access to information, education and entertainment.

For the past 18 years he has been a Principal Researcher at the Microsoft Redmond Research Laboratory in Seattle, developing prototypes that have shaped many product innovations. He also formed the NextMedia group, which developed technologies to enhance browsing and sharing of interactive media experiences.

Over his career he has been granted 57 patents in areas as diverse as data visualisation, user interaction and automated cinematography.

Curtis Wong is currently an Honorary Professor of Histories and Humanities at Trinity College, Dublin, specialising in creative arts, technologies and culture, and an advisor to the Getty Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute on technology-related issues for cultural preservation and interpretation.

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The Hon Julia Gillard AC

The Hon Julia Gillard ACDuring the time from 2010 to 2013 that Julia Gillard was Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, she could count among her achievements a demonstrably strong economy (despite the on-going impacts of the GFC which adversely affected other western economies) with Australia having a low inflation, low unemployment, comparatively low government debt and record levels of investment. 
She took action on climate change via the carbon tax with proceeds used to compensate consumers and develop renewable energy projects. 
The National Broadband Network roll out took effect. We also saw a health reform package, implementation of the Houston Plan on asylum seekers, Australia gain a place as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and plain packaging for cigarettes.
At the time, in education, major reforms resulted in record numbers of students attaining university degrees, apprenticeships and traineeships.
Australians saw the introduction of paid parental leave for both parents, the Schoolkids Bonus and an increase in the tax free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200 meaning one million of our poorest workers pay no tax at all.
There were record increases for pensioners and improvements in working conditions for lower paid workers under the Fair Work Act after the highly unpopular Workchoices was repealed.
Some believe that her government had a clear vision for the future and implemented massive reforms for the nation’s future - the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski Report on Education and preparations to meet the opportunities of the Asian Century.

Post her Prime Ministership, Ms Gillard turned her talents back to education, chairing some organisations and being a board member of others devoted to furthering educational opportunities for socially disadvantaged people, particularly girls.

Ms Gillard’s more recent focus – since joining and then Chairing beyondblue - is on mental health, and continuing to expand on the vital work the organisation has made in terms of there now being a greater and growing preparedness to talk, think and act on mental health and to prevent suicide.

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret'd)

Sir Angus HoustonSir Angus began as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Australian Airforce in 1972 and rose through the ranks to eventually become Chief of the Airforce in 2001. Four years later, in 2005, he was promoted to the pinnacle of the military hierarchy, Chief of the Defence Force. He served in this role for 6 years, overseeing Australia’s military operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following his ‘retirement’ in 2011, Sir Angus’ contributions have broadened to include several board positions in a variety of organisations, from military to humanitarian causes.

In 2014 he headed Australia’s efforts, first to find the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared and has still not been found, and, following the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster over the Ukraine, Sir Angus was appointed to help recover, identify and repatriate Australians killed in that incident.

He is currently the special envoy for South Australia, tasked with supporting trade missions, providing advice on international engagement strategies and providing important introductions in key markets.

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The Hon John Mansfield AM, QC

The Hon John MansfieldJohn Ronald Mansfield was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia in September 1996 and retired from that position in 2016. 

He graduated in Law from the University of Adelaide with Honours and was admitted as a practitioner in 1969. Justice Mansfield was appointed Queen’s Counsel for South Australia in 1985 and Queen’s Counsel for the Northern Territory in 1988. He was President of the South Australian Law Society 1988-1989, President of the Law Council of Australia from 1993-1994, Chairman of the Legal Aid Committee for the Law Council of Australia from 1986-1994, Chairman of the SA Legal Services Commission 1995-1996 and Chairman of the Third Party Premiums Committee (South Australia) from 1986-1996. During 1991-1993 Justice Mansfield held the role as Counsel assisting the Commissioner, and later was Commissioner of the Royal Commission into the State Bank of South Australia. Justice Mansfield was also Chair of the Graduate Diploma and Legal Practice Education from 2004-2011.

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Mr Kevin O'Loughlin OAM

Kevin O'Loughlin OAMKevin O’Loughlin (Uncle Dookie) has been a distinguished and influential cultural ambassador in South Australia since the 1960s.  He is a highly respected Narungga-Kaurna elder and known as an educator; story teller and cultural consultant.

His particular contribution came from his many years as an educator at Taoundi Aboriginal College in Port Adelaide.  Here he was pivotal in establishing the Cultural Tourism programme and the Cultural Tourism Agency which trained most of the cultural educators and tour guides in South Australia.  Here, he supported the learning needs of a diverse student cohort, took them on country for reconnecting to culture and developed a group of cultural educators who have amplified the impact of this important work.  It was in this work that his connection to UniSA developed as his cultural education expertise and abilities was recognised as an invaluable asset to the University.

Mr O’Loughlin is well known and loved for his generosity for his teaching of Aboriginal culture to students and staff in the Divisions of ITEE and BUE.   He is a vast ‘storehouse’ of traditional cultural knowledge, contributing to educational resources and publications.   This cultural knowledge continues to inform environmental issues such as land protection for migratory birds; waterholes and the Parafield Vernal Pools.  

Beyond UniSA, he has provided cultural mentorship and teaching with Fisheries SA, Correctional Services, Native Title and the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement.

Importantly, he was one of the first members of the Aboriginal Lands Trust which was instrumental in returning the Point Pearce mission to Aboriginal people.
Mr O’Loughlin has been recognised for both his scholarship and practice as a cultural educator, which links directly to his service to the Aboriginal community and to fostering understanding and reconciliation with the non-Indigenous community.

He has used the mediums of cultural education at Taoundi, cooperation with UniSA in the incorporation of Indigenous content, Opportunities for Learning on Country and public education at large.  In terms of the latter, an outstanding example is the Children of the Empire exhibit he curated for Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in 2008 on the mission history and its legacy at Point Pearce community on the Yorke Peninsula.

In 1993, he was recognised as the NAIDOC Aboriginal Scholar of the year.   He has published valuable works around culture and heritage for the South Australian Education Department (The Kaurna people: Aboriginal people of the Adelaide Plains)  and a resource (2016) with Joan Gibbs Cultural significance of waterholes north of Adelaide.

Some of his most enduring contributions have been in teaching cultural studies at Taoundi College where he taught for 17 years.

At UniSA, Uncle Dookie has become instrumental for his teaching of culture in the UniSA Environmental Science course, Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  He has also contributed to the curriculum development and the teaching of Tourism and Indigenous Peoples and is ‘committed to fostering greater student engagement and learning’ (Freya Higgins Desbiolles, Course Coordinator).

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Dr Ian Gould AM

Ian Gould Dr Ian Gould AM served as Chancellor of the University of South Australia during one of
 the University’s most significant periods of growth and gave eight years of distinguished
 service including as Convenor of the Universities Chancellors’ Council.

 A geologist by profession, Dr Gould has 40 years’ experience in the minerals industry in
 diverse and senior positions, mainly within the CRA and Rio Tinto Group, in which he
 was Group Executive for Exploration and later for Research and Development before
 becoming the Managing Director Australia, and then Group Managing Director for
 Normandy Mining Ltd.

In 2007 Dr Gould became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and in the same year was awarded the Institute Medal by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, of which he is also a Fellow and past President.

In June 2011, Dr Gould was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the mining industry, particularly as a proponent of environmental management, to education as Chancellor of the University of South Australia, and to the community. He has also Chaired the Councils of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, St Andrews Hospital and the Institute of Marine Science.

Dr Gould actively supports UniSA students by giving his time and sharing his knowledge, and through his personal contribution, the Ian Gould Experimental Science Grant. The grant encourages Honours and PhD students to undertake hands on research and to engage actively in experimental work and collect and analyse their own data for thesis work in any area of science, including social sciences.

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Mrs Janet Holmes à Court AC

Janet Holmes a Court Janet Holmes à Court is owner of the Janet Holmes à Court Collection, an
 internationally renowned collection of more than 4,000 registered artworks that
 documents many areas of Australian cultural significance.  She is Chairman of the
 Australian Children’s Television Foundation and the West Australian Symphony
 Orchestra. She is a Board Member of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM),
 the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), the Chamber of Arts and Culture
 WA (CACWA), the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), the Australian
 Institute of Architects Foundation (AIAF) and the New York Philharmonic International
 Advisory Board. Mrs Holmes à Court is also a member of the Centenary Trust for
 Women Board of Advisors at the University of Western Australia and State Buildings
 Advisory Board, Western Australia.

She is a science graduate from the University of Western Australia and taught science for a number of years before working more closely with family business matters. She has won numerous awards recognising her contribution to the community and to business, including a Companion of the Order of Australia.

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Emeritus Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik AO

MaryAnn Bin-Sallik Emeritus Professor Mary Ann Bin-Sallik AO has played a monumental role in the
 advancement of Aboriginal studies. She has been part of government committees of
 inquiry into Aboriginal employment; discrimination in employment; and the forced
 removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

 Professor Bin-Sallik spent 17 years in the health care sector. She was the first
 Aboriginal resident of Darwin to graduate as a nurse and then became first Indigenous
 worker in Australian higher education. She was the first Indigenous Australian to earn a
 doctorate from Harvard University in Boston, and that passion for education brought her
 back to Australia where she was appointed Senior Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies at the
 South Australian College of Advanced Education. She became Head of the School of Aboriginal Studies and Teacher Education at the University of South Australia in 1990.

She has been an active researcher into contemporary Aboriginal identity in Broome and Darwin and the influences of Asian migration in those areas. She has continued her advocacy for Indigenous participation in higher education and has served on numerous national and state committees.

Emeritus Professor Bin-Sallik has been a member of the National Population Council, and the Council of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies (now the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies). She was a Co-Commissioner for the Human Rights Commissions' Enquiry into the Forced Removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children. In 2016 she was named as the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee - NAIDOC’S  - female Elder of the year. In the Australia Day Awards early in 2017 Emeritus Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik was awarded an Order of Australia for her passion for education and for the participation of Aboriginal people in that education. 

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Mr Thomas Keneally AO

Thomas Keneally Award-winning Australian author Thomas (Tom) Keneally is one of Australia's most
 prolific and best known novelists. As the multi-award-winning author of more than 30
 novels, dramas, screenplays and books of non-fiction, he is also one of its most
 distinguished. In 1982 he won the Booker Prize for Schindler's Ark, which was made
 into the Academy Award-winning film Schindler's List. His novels The Chant of Jimmy
, Gossip from the Forest and Confederates were all short-listed for the
 Booker Prize, while Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Paraclete won the
 Miles Franklin Award.

 Born in Sydney in 1935, Tom studied for the priesthood as a young man and then
 began a career in school teaching before his literary success enabled him to become a full-time writer. In addition to the Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Awards, Tom Keneally has also won the Los Angeles Book Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Scripter Award of the University of Southern California, the Mondello International Prize and the Helmerich Prize (U.S.). Tom Keneally's history of Irish convictism, The Great Shame and The Commonwealth of Thieves about the penal origins of Australia were both published in all the English language markets. He has also published three volumes of A History of Australians and the story has now reached 1970. More recently he has published Three Famines, a narrative history of famine, and the novel, The Daughters of Mars. Thomas Keneally holds a number of national and international honorary doctorates. In 1983 he received the Order of Australia (AO) for his services to Australian Literature and in 1997 was declared one of Australia's ‘100 Living Treasures'.

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Areas of study and research

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