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Dementia advocate Ita Buttrose receives honorary doctorate


Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe has congratulated dementia and aged care advocate Ita Buttrose for being awarded an honorary UNSW Medicine doctorate.

(L-R) Emma Johnston, David Gonski, Ita Buttrose, Rodney Pillips

Ms McCabe said Ms Buttrose’s support over many years as Dementia Australia’s national president and ambassador had been invaluable and she had devoted much of her time to promoting understanding of dementia and improving the quality of life of those affected.

“Ita has been instrumental in so many of Dementia Australia’s achievements, and her commitment has played a huge role in improving the lives of Australians living with dementia, their families and carers,” Ms McCabe said in the organisation’s newsletter.

“On behalf of everybody at Dementia Australia I would like to thank Ita for all she has done and continues to do. Congratulations Ita on this well deserved achievement.”

Ms Buttrose received the honorary doctorate for outstanding services to health, the community and empowering women in business at the UNSW Medicine graduation ceremony in November.

“Throughout her career, Ita has been a committed contributor to many community and welfare organisations and is passionate about the field of health and aged care and the rights of older Australians to receive appropriate and adequate care,” said UNSW Dean of Medicine Professor Rodney Phillips said in a statement.

Ms Buttrose served as Dementia Australia’s national president between 2011 and 2014  and is currently an ambassador for the organisation, as well as supporting the UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing.

She said she was honoured and delighted to receive the honorary degree.

“I’ve had two careers, actually: one in journalism and publishing, and the other in a voluntary capacity in the not-for-profit sector – supporting charities and community causes, particularly those involved with health and wellbeing,” she said in her address.

“My voluntary work is a valued part of my life. I think it enriches a person’s life and makes us grow as people and I recommend it to you all.”

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3 Responses to Dementia advocate Ita Buttrose receives honorary doctorate

  1. Tony Schumacher-Jones January 9, 2019 at 11:35 am #

    As one who actually completed a PhD, four years of hard work, solid study, and mind numbing thinking about a particularly arcane topic – I powerfully resent someone being given a doctorate without fulfilling the requirements that all real doctorates demand.

    It may indeed be the case that Ms Buttrose “had devoted much of her time to promoting understanding of dementia and improving the quality of life of those affected” and that and she has “played a huge role in improving the lives of Australians living with dementia, their families and carers”, and if so, well done, good for her. So give her a medal. A gold watch. Something bright and shiny. But a PhD?

    If she deserves one then I daresay the carers who work in the dementia unit I work in also deserve one. We could add it to the $18 or so an hour they get for working with people who are doubly incontinent and are often verbally and physically aggressive toward them.

    I will not hold my breath.

  2. Caroline January 10, 2019 at 10:11 pm #

    Tony, I feel your pain! I’m a step down with a Masters and Honours who did a piece of primary research at each level and hours of study, paid work and volunteer work to build credibility in the aged care space – and still without appropriate wages for that investment.

    I am definitely critical of honorary doctorates for people who have the wherewithal – position, power, voice, networks, etc. I want to do an investigative piece of work about older people and mental health but I also have to pay bills!

  3. ScottBaum January 18, 2019 at 10:08 pm #

    Well, nowadays many people can receive honorary doctoral degrees by making a small contribution to organizations like LADC Institute in the USA. It’s just that honorary degrees really don’t mean that much, but they sound nice. So I wouldn’t get upset if I were you.

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