RMIT: Indigenous education pioneer awarded honorary doctorate

Professor Peter Buckskin has been recognized for his tireless determination in pursuit of education opportunity and excellence for Aboriginal people.

150 PhD students graduated on Friday, joining RMIT’s global alumni network spanning more than 140 countries and 400,000 alumni.

Buckskin was presented with the Doctor of Arts Honoris Causa at RMIT’s Doctoral Degrees Graduation Ceremony on Friday 14 May held at the historic Storey Hall.

A proud Narungga man from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, Buckskin has worked tirelessly towards closing the gap within Indigenous education.

Alt Text is not present for this image, Taking dc:title ‘Professor Peter Buckskin at the PhD graduation ceremony'(L:R) Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President; Professor Peter Buckskin; and Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, RMIT Chancellor.
He has held positions as Chair of the South Australian Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee, member of the National Aboriginal Education Committee, Commissioner of the Australian Commission to UNESCO, and spent more than a decade as an officer in the Commonwealth’s Senior Executive Service in the portfolios of Education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

Within the tertiary sector, Buckskin has held roles as Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects at the University of South Australia and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (NATSIHEC).

He has improved access to education, boosted educational outcomes, and deepened the understanding of Indigenous people’s needs and aspirations.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Martin Bean CBE congratulated Buckskin on his outstanding achievements.

“Peter’s passion and commitment to his people’s aspirations has set the agenda in the tertiary sector and made a lasting impact on Indigenous education,” Martin said.

“We are proud to recognise Peter’s outstanding contribution and welcome him to the RMIT community where we will continue to learn from his exceptional leadership.

“His tireless determination and depth of insight has improved access to education, educational outcomes and broadened the understanding of Indigenous people’s needs and aspirations in the sector.

“Importantly, it has led to reforms in the way Indigenous supplementary funding can be used by universities.”

Professor Peter Buckskin with the RMIT Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor(L:R) Dr Ziggy Switkowski AO, Professor Peter Buckskin and Professor Martin Bean CBE
In accepting the honorary doctorate, Buckskin urged the graduates to become influencers and change makers to create a more equitable Australian society.

“Be a change maker committed to developing creative solutions to address the major social, economic and political issues facing us in the 21st century like climate change, and the unfinished business in the reconciliation journey between the First Australians and all those that came since colonization,” Buckskin said.

“As global citizens of humanity, I ask you to utilise your new qualifications to help Australia become a more inclusive society by understanding and accepting our shared history prior and post the 1700s.

“Then the Australian Reconciliation Agenda can be realised for the benefit of all Australians, and we live up to age-old saying ‘a fair go for all.’”

Buckskin continues as Co-Chair of Reconciliation SA, Chair of the SA Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium.