Community service ‘will enrich your life’, says Senator

Published 11 April 2008

Senator Kay Patterson, speaking during a graduation ceremony at the University of New England today, emphasised the importance of voluntary community service as part of a fulfilling way of life.

“Being involved as a volunteer will strengthen our community and enrich your life,” she told more than 300 graduands in Education and Professional Studies assembled to receive their testamurs from UNE’s Deputy Chancellor, Dr James Harris.

“Last week when we had the terrible winds in Melbourne,” Senator Patterson said, “I was reminded of the amazing culture of volunteering that we have here in Australia as I saw men and women in their orange suits coming from inter-State to help the Victorian SES and many Victorians in their hour of need.

“Workplace giving or time off to volunteer is something you may well consider suggesting if your employer doesn’t already do it.”

She urged the graduands to seek a balance, in their lives, between career, community service, and family life. “As challenging as your career is,” she said, “nothing can replace the care and love of family and friends. Don’t wake up towards the end of a successful career having lost what, at the end of the day, is more important than promotion, public recognition or profit.”

Senator Patterson (pictured here), who was Australia’s Minister for Health and Ageing from 2001 to 2003 and Minister for Family and Community Services from 2003 to 2006, was speaking at the third of UNE’s four Autumn Graduation ceremonies for 2008. The fourth and last ceremony – for people graduating in the Sciences and Health – will be tomorrow [Saturday 12 April].

Many of those graduating today are entering what Dr Harris referred to in his welcoming remarks as “one of the noble professions” – teaching. Excellence in teaching (at the tertiary level) was celebrated during today’s ceremony when the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, presented Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching to two outstanding lecturers in teacher education: Dr Keith Fleming and Dr Chris Reading.

Professor Pettigrew said that Dr Fleming, who specialises in the teaching of science at primary-school level, “motivates and instils a passion for science education in students who come to this curriculum area with many fears, reservations and doubts”. “Through his professionalism, expertise and commitment, thousands of science teachers and students have benefited,” he added.

Professor Pettigrew praised Dr Reading for her “innovative contribution” to the education of teachers in “conceptualising, developing and leading” a unit that enabled students to critically assess professional teaching standards and develop evidence for their own competencies in relation to those standards. In this and other aspects of her professional role Dr Reading displayed a “unique combination of vision, determination, and attention to process and detail”, he said.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Senator Kay Patterson displayed here expands to include Professor Pettigrew (left) and Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions.