Sue Townsend (nee Green), a Wiradjuri woman and Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales has graduated with her PhD in Social Work and was further awarded the Dean’s award in the form of a grant to publish her thesis.
The PhD thesis examined how Aboriginal welfare policies were formulated and implemented within the colony of New South Wales, through an examination of key colonial documents, such as governor’s instructions, correspondence between governor’s and the Colonial Secretaries Office including a number of inquiries into the conditions of Aboriginal people that occurred prior to 1860.
This research will be quite pivotal to understanding of the social aspects of policy formation and the effects of such policies and there can be references made to current policies and their success or failure may be more readily predicted.
Mrs Townsend, before taking her teaching role as Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, was the Director of Nura Gili Indigenous Student Centre for 8 years. During this time she commenced the ground breaking Winter Schools and Pre-Programs which exposed High School students to the university and inspired them to continue on for further studies. She was also instrumental in not only an increased presence of Indigenous students at the university and raising awareness internationally of Indigenous Australians; the culture, the history, the social policies and ramifications of such social policies through her teaching.
Mrs Townsend was very hands on in her role as Director of Nura Gili and would engage with students and staff alike to ensure the needs of the students were addressed and all assistance provided to ensure ultimate success with studies. Mrs Townsend instigated the academic skills assistance to ensure students who were having difficulties were taught strategies to overcome learning difficulties and flourish throughout their studies.
Mrs Townsend, until recently marrying, was a single mother of three children while working and completing her studies and attending hospitals for extended stays for her eldest son who was battling leukaemia for a large part of his childhood.
The academic heights being achieved by Mrs Townsend would not be possible for ordinary people, Mrs Townsend is quite simply every bit the warrior woman that Wiradjuri people personify and she is a most deserving recipient of academic accolade. Her colleagues, students past and present and her community are most proud of her success which continues to inspire.
I know Sue personally and cannot express how honoured this makes me. I have been mentored and believed in by a woman who I respect more than I can ever say. Sue took th time to get to know the students that attended UNSW and came to Nura Gili, she considered them under her care and anything we were going through - she would want to help. At the tender age of 18 I left everyone I knew to move to Sydney for University and Sue assisted me in finding accommodation, showing me where to shop, gave me her personal mobile number and always had her office door open for me. I would often stop by just to chat with Sue because I felt like she was a great sounding board for me and always made me consider angles I hadn't previously thought of. She taught me a great many things in her classes that I took and outside of class in her manner and conversations. I developed a love for her children who became friends I still see today because, like their mother, they are tender hearted but strong beyond compare. Their mother taught them well.
Sue, thank you - for all that you have done for me personally and all that you continue to do for our people. You inspire me and I am so proud to have had my character and outlook on life shaped by you.