Ex-PM of Australia Julia Gillard honoured as Aberystwyth Fellow

EARLIER this week the Honourable Julia Gillard, the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, was granted a Fellowship of Aberystwyth University on 30 June 2015.

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Ms Gillard visited the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University to deliver a public lecture “A Conversation with Julia Gillard: Education and Our Future”, during which the University recognised her significant contribution to political life by making her a Fellow.

Honorary Fellowships are awarded to honour individuals who have, or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales in general, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field. In this case Ms Gillard was born in Barry, South Wales.

In the days leading up to the event Professor April McMahon, Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor expressed delight at Ms Gillard becoming a Fellow. She said:

“I am delighted to welcome Julia Gillard to Aberystwyth, the University, and our distinguished community of Fellows. I look forward to hearing of her experiences and successes as Prime Minister of Australia, and encourage anyone with an interest in the global political landscape and the future of education to attend this event.”

Ms Gillard was sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia on 24 June 2010 and served in that office until June 2013. During her time as Prime Minister, as well as her previous role as Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard was central to the successful management of Australia’s economy, the 12th biggest economy in the world, during the Global Financial Crisis and as Australia positioned itself to seize the benefits of Asia’s rise. Ms Gillard also developed Australia’s guiding policy paper, Australia in the Asian Century.

Ms Gillard’s commitment to education was prevalent during her time in office, as she delivered nation-changing policies, including: the reformation of Australia education at every level from early childhood to university education; creating an emissions trading scheme; improving the provision and sustainability of health care, aged care, and dental care. She also commenced the nation’s first ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities and restructuring the telecommunications sector as well as advancing a national broadband network.

In foreign policy, Ms Gillard strengthened Australia’s alliance with the United States, secured stronger architecture for the relationship with China, upgraded Australia’s ties with India, and deepened ties with Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. Ms Gillard has represented Australia at the G20, including winning Australia’s right to host the 2014 meeting, the East Asia Summit, APEC, NATO-ISAF and chaired CHOGM.  Under Ms Gillard’s leadership, Australia was elected to serve on the United Nations Security Council.

Ms Gillard is the first woman to ever serve as Australia’s Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister. In October 2012, Ms Gillard received worldwide attention, and went viral, for her speech in Parliament on the treatment of women in professional and public life – which saw her shut down the then-leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, who is currently the Australian Prime Minister.

To add to her many achievements in government, Ms Gillard is also a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In February 2014, Ms Gillard was appointed chair of the Global Partnership for Education, a leading organisation dedicated to expanding access and quality education worldwide.

More recently, in February 2015, Ms Gillard was appointed Chancellor of Dūcere, Australia’s leading education provider for business and management courses from Diploma levels through to a world’s first MBA program.

Ms Gillard also serves as an Honorary Professor at the University of Adelaide, and is Patron of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library in Perth, Western Australia.

Ms Gillard is a member of the board of directors of Beyond Blue, which is committed to helping Australians understand and manage anxiety and depression.

Ms Gillard’s memoirs, My Story, were published by Random House in September 2014.