Indigenous education champion Lois Peeler AM will be presented with an honorary doctorate at tomorrow’s RMIT University doctoral degrees graduation.
Peeler is a recognised elder of Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri heritage, a passionate educator and leader. She is currently the Executive Director and Principal of Worawa Aboriginal College – the only boarding school in Australia that caters specifically for young Aboriginal women.
Peeler’s up-bringing included family life on the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve where activism for improved conditions for Aboriginal people was deeply embedded. She grew up surrounded by strong women who, based on their personal experiences, led the fight for equal rights for Aboriginal people to education, healthcare, housing, legal services and social justice.
Peeler has had a diverse career in the music industry, social activism, tourism and Aboriginal education.
One of the original members of The Sapphires, an all-girl singing group from the 1960s, she is also acknowledged as Australia's first Aboriginal model and TV presenter.
Peeler’s career in the community sector began as Assistant Director of the Aborigines Advancement League leading to senior positions in the State and Federal public service (spanning 16 years in public sector Aboriginal Affairs).
She headed Aboriginal Tourism Australia for more than a decade, leading Aboriginal tourism development and marketing and co-authoring the Respecting our Culture tourism accreditation program for the Australian Tourism industry.
In 2003 Peeler received The Centenary Medal for her work in tourism. In 2014 she was made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her significant service to the Indigenous community as an educator, advocate and role model.
She is currently Chairperson of the Department of Justice and Regulation’s Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (Eastern), a member of the Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Justice Forum, Chairperson of the Eastern Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. Peeler is involved in the implementation of the Marrung Aboriginal Education Action Plan.
As Principal of Worawa Aboriginal College, a boarding school for young Aboriginal women from years 7-10, Peeler firmly believes in access to pathways as a means to realising each student's full potential while nurturing Aboriginal culture, history and identity in an education framework.
She was named Senior Victorian Australian of the Year 2017 late last year and was a finalist in this year’s Australian of the Year awards.
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