Champion of the underdog awarded honorary doctorate

(From left) The Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, the Hon. John von Doussa QC, President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and honorary degree recipient, the former Royal Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Hon. Elliott Frank Johnston AO QC.

(From left) The Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, the Hon. John von Doussa QC, President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and honorary degree recipient, the former Royal Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Hon. Elliott Frank Johnston AO QC.
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Friday, 15 December 2006

The former Royal Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Hon. Elliott Frank Johnston AO QC, will be presented with an honorary doctorate by the University of Adelaide this Friday 15 December.

Mr Johnston is being admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa for his "pursuit of justice and equality" for indigenous Australians.

A law graduate of the University, champion of the underdog and former Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, Mr Johnston is credited with bringing to the nation's attention the overt discrimination of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.

In May 1988 he was appointed Royal Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and his subsequent findings challenged Australia's treatment of its indigenous people and paved the way for reconciliation.

Mr Johnston was admitted as a legal practitioner in 1940 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 1970. He became a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia in June 1983 and retired in February 1988.

In 1994 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the law, legal education and to the community.

"Mr Johnston is an outstanding advocate for the oppressed and working class," says Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, Professor James McWha. "His commitment to social justice has played a pivotal role in getting Australians to examine their treatment of the Aboriginal people and strive for a fairer and better future."

 

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