Honorary doctorate for long-serving Aboriginal educator

Wednesday 14 Dec 2016

Laurie CrawfordA former Charles Sturt University (CSU) Koori Teaching Fellow will receive an honorary doctorate at a graduation ceremony in Bathurst this week for his more than 40 years of teaching experience and research in the field of Aboriginal education.

Mr Laurence Crawford (pictured) will receive the degree of Doctor of Education (honoris causa), at the graduation ceremony at 3pm Friday 16 December, in honour of his outstanding contribution for developing and implementing Aboriginal studies programs that enhanced students learning about Indigenous cultures.

The citation notes Mr Crawford has worked in Indigenous education since 1970, when he started as an Aboriginal Education Assistant, then as a primary and tertiary teacher.

Mr Crawford was the first Aboriginal Education Assistant to be appointed to a high school in New South Wales (NSW). During this time, the Aboriginal Education Assistant program was in its infancy and it was through Mr Crawford's commitment and dedication in working with the NSW education system that conditions for the program were greatly improved.

Mr Crawford attended one of CSU's antecedent institutions, Mitchell College of Advanced Education in Bathurst and attained a Diploma of Education. His first appointment was to a local public school where he became the first qualified Aboriginal infant's teacher west of the Blue Mountains. Mr Crawford went on to complete a Bachelor of Education degree, and a Master of Aboriginal Education Studies.

In the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples (1992), Mr Crawford was awarded the NSW Director General of Education Award for his commitment and considerable contribution to public education.

Mr Crawford commenced his postgraduate career as the Koori Teaching Fellow in the CSU School of Teacher Education in Bathurst, a position he held for over 20 years. Over this period he served as a lecturer and made a substantial contribution to Indigenous education and culture through his innovative curriculum development which was designed to challenge and motivate students. Mr Crawford was an outstanding member of the School of Teacher Education, contributing and achieving across all areas of academic, administration and research.

Mr Crawford established and maintained links between CSU and Indigenous communities across the University's footprint. The teaching of Indigenous issues from a unique and informed perspective engaged students as they gained a deeper understanding of Indigenous Australia.

A founding member of the committee that established the Aboriginal Enclave Centre at Mitchell College, Mr Crawford conducted the very first Aboriginal student orientation program. Aided by Mr Crawford's guidance and involvement, the Enclave Centre would later expand into the Indigenous Education Unit of Charles Sturt University, with an Indigenous Student Centre established on each of the main campuses under the supervision of the Education Unit. He also played a vital role in the negotiation with local Indigenous communities at Dubbo and Port Macquarie, in the establishment of CSU in these areas.

Mr Crawford was also the inaugural Chairperson of the Bathurst Health Council and a Director of the Mid-Western Area Health Service. It was during this time that Aboriginal Health became a significant major social justice target, through the forging of strong links with Aboriginal communities across the Mid-Western Area Health Service footprint.

Mr Crawford and his wife Patricia are Aboriginal leaders in the local community and are responsible for establishing the Towri Multifunctional Aboriginal Children's Services Child Centre in Bathurst.

Mr Crawford's contribution to the local community was recognised in 2015 during Bathurst's bi-centenary, when he was named one of Bathurst's 200 Living Legends.

The citation concludes that Mr Crawford's sharp intellect is accompanied by a wonderfully gentle and unassuming nature and keen sense of humour. He is a man with a deep love for his country, its people, and its countryside.


Media contact: Bruce Andrews, (02) 6338 6084

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Mr Laurence Crawford. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Education (honoris causa) at the 3pm graduation ceremony on Friday 16 December,