Highly respected Narungga-Kaurna elder, Kevin O’Loughlin OAM has been acknowledged for his contribution to Aboriginal education over 50 years, with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia today.
Educator, storyteller and cultural consultant and affectionately known to many as Uncle Dookie, O’Loughlin has been a champion for cultural understanding and the value of Aboriginal knowledges.
UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd says the University is proud to recognise the outstanding achievements of an Aboriginal leader who has given so much to students, staff and the community.
“Kevin is well-known and loved for his generosity in teaching of Aboriginal culture to students and staff in our Divisions of Information Technology, Environment and Engineering; and Business,” Prof Lloyd says.
“He is a vast ‘storehouse’ of traditional cultural knowledge, contributing to many educational resources and publications; and has been a distinguished and influential cultural ambassador in South Australia since the 1960s.”
Devoting many years to teaching at Taoundi Aboriginal College in Port Adelaide, he was pivotal in establishing a cultural tourism program and the Cultural Tourism Agency, which trained most of the cultural educators, and tour guides in South Australia.
“He supported the learning needs of a diverse student cohort, took them on country for reconnecting to culture and developed a group of cultural educators who have amplified the impact of this work,” Prof Lloyd says.
“It was in this work that his connection to UniSA developed as his cultural education expertise and abilities were recognised as an invaluable asset to the University.”
Beyond UniSA, O’Loughlin has provided cultural mentorship and teaching to Fisheries SA, Correctional Services, Native Title and the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement.
Importantly, he was one of the first members of the Aboriginal Lands Trust, which spearheaded the return of Point Pearce mission on the Yorke Peninsula, where O’Loughlin grew up, to Aboriginal people.
O’Loughlin says the Honorary Doctorate means a lot to him and his family, all of whom have been determined to succeed, despite limited opportunities and the odds being against them.
“I am greatly honoured to receive this award,” O’Loughlin says.
“Like many Aborigines, I came from humble beginnings – a poor family who persisted despite the inequities we faced. I had to leave school at 14 and teach myself to read and write.
“Receiving this award means a lot to my family, and I hope the recognition gives hope and courage to all Aboriginal Australians.”
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