Internationally renowned Aboriginal musician, artist and entertainer David Dahwurr Hudson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of James Cook University at a ceremony in Cairns today (March 26).
Mr Hudson joined 324 JCU students from four Faculties at the graduation ceremony at the Cairns Convention Centre.
Three PhDs were among the awards presented to students graduating from Science and Engineering, Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences, Law, Business and the Creative Arts and Arts, Education and Social Sciences.
JCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding congratulated all the graduates on their achievement.
“Graduation is a time to celebrate students’ success. It’s also a time to thank those family and friends who have supported and encouraged them through their years of study,” Professor Harding said.
“These JCU graduates will undoubtedly go on to do amazing things in their careers, here and across the globe.
“As Australia’s university for the tropics we know that many of our graduates will provide much-needed expertise in the world’s tropical regions, including our own.”
Honorary Doctorate recipient Mr Hudson, from the Ewamin and Western Yalangi people, was the original co-owner of Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. He played a key role in co-producing and choreographing Tjapukai’s performances to promote Indigenous culture through the tourism industry.
Presenting Mr Hudson to JCU Chancellor Lt Gen. John Grey, Professor Harding said James Cook University wished to recognise Mr Hudson’s exceptional contribution beyond the expectations of his field of endeavour, which had influenced the thinking and general well-being of humanity.
“The Honorary Doctorate is also being awarded to Mr Hudson in recognition of his outstanding service and distinguished public contribution to the northern Queensland community,” she said.
“He has been one of the key figures in Aboriginal cultural renaissance of the last decade and continues to raise his profile internationally as a remarkable exponent of Aboriginal culture.”
Professor Harding said Mr Hudson used his skills in language, music and art to help reconcile black and white communities’ cultural beliefs.
“Most recently, Mr Hudson was commissioned to assist with overall cultural integrity in an Indigenous precinct at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, the first theme park to incorporate Aboriginal and Islander representation. This opened to the public in December 2013,” she said.
“In the past 12 months, Mr Hudson also took on the role of Project Manager for Talaroo Station on traditional Ewamian land, south west of Cairns, helping to establish an area for traditional owners to visit and hopefully creating a future enterprise on country.
“Mr Hudson is recognised as a ‘champion’ with the Queensland Tourism Industry Council which aims to encourage and support tourism employers to engage and manage Indigenous employees.
“He is regularly contacted by JCU researchers to assist with artwork for various papers they are producing and by JCU students to obtain cultural knowledge and assistance with interpretation of cross-cultural components in their study and assignments.”
Mr Hudson said he accepted the Honorary Doctorate on behalf of his people “who continually have to fight for recognition in this country of ours.
“Education, pride, self-determination, language and traditional lore are the perfect ingredients for a strong cultural identity,” he said.
“Otherwise, people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and cultural identity are like a tree without its roots.”
For more information, contact Liz Inglis on 0419 643 494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
JCU Media Liaison: Caroline Kaurila, tel: (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175
Issued: March 26, 2014