The ABC’s first female news director receives honorary doctorate

The ABC’s first female news director receives honorary doctorate

RMIT Council has acknowledged Kate Torney OAM for her contribution to media, arts and culture in Australia.

Kate Torney took the reins of Australia’s largest and most trusted news organisation in 2009 with one simple aim - to reimagine ABC News for a digital future. 

The changes she helped deliver placed ABC News at the forefront of news innovation.

In accepting her honorary doctorate at RMIT's City Campus, alongside 97 graduates, Torney described the fast-paced nature of the newsroom.

“I had the privilege of working as a journalist for 25 years and for 25 years I was on a deadline, and every deadline was critical, and seemingly catastrophic if not met,” she said.

“It was exhilarating, extraordinary and sometimes exhausting.

“My advice to my younger self, and to you, is to be brave enough to pause, to take a breath now and again. Very few things in life are genuinely urgent …  embrace your daydreams.”

Kate Torney receiving her award from Emeritus Professor Stephen Duckett AM.

Although Torney made her name in journalism, she has gone on to help lead some of Australia’s most valued institutions.

During six years at the helm of State Library Victoria, the nation’s oldest and busiest public library, Torney oversaw an almost 90-million-dollar redevelopment project. Her efforts helped reimagine the library’s services and spaces, safeguarding it into the future.

"I had the privilege of leading the library through a transformation which included reopening the original reading room,” she said.

“When I was a student, it was one of my favourite places.”

In 2021, Torney took up her current role, CEO of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation which supports the work of some of the world’s leading cancer experts, delivering break-through research and treatments.

RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Design and Social Context and Vice-President, Professor Tim Marshall, said Torney continues to contribute to the community.

“Kate is an accomplished journalist who has since applied her immense energy and talents across the cultural sector. Her rich career should be an inspiration to current RMIT students.

“At the heart of these roles has been a sense of public service and a commitment to positive change.

“That’s why I am so delighted to award Kate with a RMIT honorary doctorate in Arts.”

Torney was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2020 for services to the broadcast, media and cultural sectors.

She is also Chair of The Wheeler Centre and Director at The Conversation.


Story: Ben Nielsen


  • Awards
  • Media & Communication
  • Industry
  • Arts and culture
  • Announcements

Related News

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.