FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has congratulated the first Torres Strait Islander woman to graduate with a Masters from the Australian Catholic University in Canberra.
Ms Lydia George graduated from the University last week with a Masters in Social Work, specialising in Kupai Omasker ? the Torres Strait customary adoption of children.
Mr Entsch described Ms George, who is now living in Canberra but is originally from Erub (Darnley Island), as “an outstanding role model” for Torres Strait Islander women.
“This isn’t the first time she’s shown her strength as a trail-blazer,” he said. “In 1991 she was the first Torres Strait Islander woman to graduate from the University of Technology in Sydney ? being awarded a Bachelor of Communications majoring in journalism and political and social science.
“She has really found the perfect balance of working hard to further her education at our country’s best universities, while retaining her cultural identity as a strong Torres Strait Islander woman.”
Ms George said she chose to study Kupai Omasker because she was an adopted child herself. She says her study looked at vulnerable people, rates of homelessness, human services and government relations.
“The last three months of study were specifically looking at the issue of Torres Strait Islander children and why so many have to be taken into care and protection,” said Ms George.
“I also looked in depth at how it impacts on the rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Mr Entsch said he was privileged to meet up with Ms George after her graduation ceremony, which was held on Friday 20th March in the Great Hall at Parliament House.
“Lydia’s work has the potential to change future government policy, especially as it is in an area that is so significant given the high-level, bipartisan focus on Closing the Gap in indigenous disadvantage.
“I congratulate her and wish her all the very best for her future.”