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NSW Governor Beazley to deliver occasional address at graduation ceremony


Sharlene King
12 September 2019

Her support more than a decade ago helped establish the University’s Centre for Children and Young People

Before Margaret Beazley was appointed as the Governor of New South Wales, her legacy was that of a trailblazing judge. Southern Cross University has experienced Her Excellency’s pioneering spirit firsthand.

Fifteen years ago the then-Justice of the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal lent her strong support to the establishment of a regionally-based research centre which focused on hearing directly from children and young people about their lives and experiences to help ensure policy and practice better addressed their needs.

The result was the Centre for Children and Young People based at the University’s Lismore campus. She remains a founding member of the Centre’s advisory board.

The University welcomes Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC to Lismore tomorrow (Friday September 13) to deliver the occasional address at the graduation ceremony.

Professor Anne Graham AO, the Founding Director of the Centre for Children and Young People, says the Her Excellency’s contribution to both the University and young people is significant.

“Governor Beazley worked tirelessly with us to establish the Centre and promote the work of Southern Cross University. Her contributions are numerous but one example is the pivotal role she played in supporting us to convene a major national conference on children’s participation in family law matters.”

Read the conference report.

The conference attracted around 380 delegates and was opened by the then-Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock. The UK’s then most senior female judge The Right Hon Baroness Hale (now the President of the Supreme Court in the UK) was keynote speaker and the event was broadcast by Damien Carrick on ABC Radio National’s Law Report program.

“None of this would have been possible without the Governor’s guidance, generosity and tenacity. She understood that services in regional areas aren’t able to readily access high profile speakers or expensive conference venues in Sydney and elsewhere – so we should bring a conference here and collaborate closely with regional services to also showcase their efforts,” Professor Graham said.

“It was an outstanding success, shone a light on the issues that children navigate when their parents separate and divorce, and profiled the Centre for Children and Young People and Southern Cross as a regional university doing nationally significant work.

“New South Wales couldn’t have a better Governor and Southern Cross University has benefited enormously from her intellect, humility and deep commitment to the community.”

Since opening in 2004, the Centre’s work has since been recognised nationally and internationally, including being commissioned by UNICEF to lead an international project to develop ethical research methods where children are involved.

In 2018 Professor Graham was awarded an Order of Australia for her distinguished service to higher education in the area of childhood studies, as an academic, researcher and author, and to child protection.

In another Southern Cross University connection, travelling with Her Excellency is Protocol Officer Julia McSwan. Ms McSwan is a graduate of the University’s Bachelor of Business.