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Honorary degree for first ACT Chief Minister

Honorary degree for first ACT Chief Minister

Kristyn Comino

14 April 2014: The ACT’s first Chief Minister and Treasurer, Rosemary Follett AO, is now the proud recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra.

A graduate of the University of Canberra (then the Canberra College of Advanced Education) in 1979 with Bachelor of Arts in Administration, Dr Follett was the first woman to lead an Australian state or territory government.

Dr Follett said she was “very honoured to be receiving this award, especially as I am a UC graduate myself; it was also great to share graduation day with students who have made a great start on their professional lives”.

Dr Follett was elected as Chief Minister and Treasurer in 1989 in the ACT’s first Legislative Assembly, and re-elected from 1991 to 1995.  Her portfolio responsibilities included all aspects of social justice and she introduced laws governing occupational health and safety, discrimination and harassment, protection of domestic relationships and protection against stalking, among others.

“The pace was hectic, the work incredibly varied and interesting and I often had the feeling that history, at least for the ACT, was being created,” she said.

Rosemary Follett

Dr Rosemary Follett was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Canberra. Photo: Michelle McAulay

Highlighting “the enormous contribution that studying at UC made for me” Dr Follett remembers her time at the University fondly, and said graduates should be “very proud to have studied and succeeded in such a wonderful university”.

“Over the years since my own graduation I have come to appreciate the significance of my exposure to higher learning – how it changed my life and allowed me experiences I would never have dreamed of,” Dr Follett said.

“I think it’s fair to say that the ACT has come a long way in the past few decades.  The University of Canberra has probably come even further. It has gone from strength to strength.”

On leaving politics, Dr Follett was the ACT’s Discrimination Commissioner and head of the ACT’s Human Rights Office from 1996 to 2004. She has since served on a wide range of boards and committees, such as the ACT Sentence Administration Board, ACT Skills Commission and the University of Canberra Council, including as Deputy Chancellor from 2010-2011.

She currently chairs the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies and recently trained as a volunteer guide for the National Arboretum. In 2006 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

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