Prominent Central Australians to be honoured at CDU Alice Springs graduation 

Dick Kimber and Pat Miller

The Northern Territory’s Deputy Administrator Pat Miller and Central Australian Historian Dick Kimber will be the first two Central Australian residents to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate since the formation of Charles Darwin University (CDU) at a graduation ceremony in Alice Springs tonight, Friday 16 June.

A Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, will be conferred upon both recipients at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, in recognition of their respective service to Australia and particularly the Northern Territory.

Pat Miller, who will deliver the Occasional Address at the graduation ceremony, has been a strong social justice advocate for Aboriginal people as the Director of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service since 1982. She has also been a prominent campaigner for reconciliation.

“In her position, Mrs Miller has commendably taken a broad view of the legal service’s role by encouraging educational and other programs designed to divert the need for Aboriginal clients to access legal services,” CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett said.

Since arriving in Central Australia to teach at Alice Springs High School in 1970, Dick Kimber has established himself as a respected authority on the region’s history and has made a valuable contribution to inter-cultural understanding.

“Through his association with Aboriginal and community organisations, his lectures and the hundreds of articles, scholarly papers, historical chapters he has written, Mr Kimber has made a considerable contribution to the store of knowledge we have about people and places in Central Australia,” Professor Garnett said.

Tonight’s ceremony will see 583 Central Australian students graduate from Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training courses, 35 more than last year.

The student response at the graduation ceremony will be delivered by Brenda Shields, a 55-year-old Indigenous student and twice scholarship recipient who is graduating from a Certificate III in Business.

Pat Miller

Born in Alice Springs of mixed decent, Pat Miller resolved to devote her life to the development of a better society, after witnessing a show of intolerance towards her Aboriginal mother while she was at school.

She joined the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service in a clerical position in 1978 and has been the organisation’s Director since 1982.

Mrs Miller has represented the NT in both hockey and basketball.

She was named the NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year in 1995 and received a further NAIDOC award in 1997 for her contribution to Central Australian Aboriginal organisations, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the 1967 constitutional referendum which granted Aboriginal people the right to vote as Australian citizens.

In 2001, Mrs Miller received a Centenary Medal and in 2004, she was named the Northern Territory’s Australian of the Year and became an Officer of the Order of Australia in the same year.

Dick Kimber

Mr Kimber came to Central Australia in 1970 to teach English, history and social studies at Alice Springs High School.

In 1974, he became the first Sacred Sites Field Officer and has been a volunteer with the Central Land Council since 1975.

Mr Kimber has supported the Papunya Tula Arts Centre since its inception in 1971, including time spent as the Acting Co-ordinator for the Papunya Tula Art Company.

He was the foundation captain and coach of the Melanka AFL Football Club (now West’s), through which he formed important links with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

In 1980, he began undertaking historical and cultural research in Central Australia and has since published the book Man from Arltunga and hundreds of articles, essays and chapters, as well as delivering regular lectures on the area.