ACU to honour compassionate community crusader

Friday, 25 May 2007

Melbourne, 25 May 2007: Australian Catholic University (ACU) will award renowned community activist Margaret Gurry AM with its highest honour, Doctor of the University (Honoris Causa), at its annual Melbourne graduation ceremony for Education students this Monday.

More than 380 students from ACU’s Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) will graduate at the ceremony, to be held at Melbourne Town Hall, with Ms Gurry providing the occasional address to graduates.

ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan AO said Ms Gurry had made extraordinary improvements in the lives of “society’s neglected people” through her tireless work in the community.

“Margaret Gurry has dedicated her life to community engagement, lending a helping hand wherever she sees people in need,” Professor Sheehan said. “As an active member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, Margaret recognised early on in her career the importance of helping people lift themselves out of poverty and structures that severely limit their life opportunities.

“It is Margaret’s tireless work with the so-called Friday Night School that has truly touched society’s nerve of social neglect. Focusing on the children of Melbourne’s high-rise flats – those with no educational assistance at home, those for whom English was a second language – Margaret took up the challenge of providing much-needed education beyond the confines of a classroom. The volunteer-run school is now in its 11th year.

“Less well known is Margaret’s extraordinary work with the Melbourne Refugee Sanctuary Group, as a Director of the Sisters of Charity Foundation, and as a member of the Australia Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a charitable trust. Her overall commitment to bettering lives was recognised in 2004 when she was made a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia. Margaret is a highly deserving recipient of ACU’s highest honour.”

Ms Gurry is a qualified nurse, having trained at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital in the 1960s. In a long and varied career, she has most notably used her skills in nursing, midwifery and intensive care to treat those suffering from malaria and other tropical diseases in Papua New Guinea.

ACU’s Melbourne Campus, located in Fitzroy on Melbourne’s city fringe, has more than 2,500 students enrolled in academic programs in arts, business, education, exercise science, information systems, midwifery, nursing, music, philosophy, psychology, social science and theology.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) – established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university – is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.