Published on 27 September 2013
A renowned Indigenous educator, community services worker and artist will become an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast on Thursday 3 October.
Aunty Denise Proud, 61, will receive the award before a large crowd at the last Graduation Ceremony for 2013.
The former early childhood educator, born in Cherbourg on Wakka-Wakka country, is recognised nationally and internationally for helping Indigenous and non-indigenous people through her academic, professional and leadership roles.
Ms Proud’s current work focuses on the Reconciliation Queensland committee and Anglicare’s Nalingu Centre in Brisbane, as well as early childhood guest lectures and cultural awareness workshops around the country.
She promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community engagement and identity through schools, government, local organisations and higher education.
She paints at her home studio at The Gap, Brisbane, where she lives with her husband David. Her daughter Monique, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, helped introduce AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) to USC in 2011.
“Community is very important and to be recognised like this by the University as part of the wider community is an honour,” said Ms Proud, who provides leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education through USC committee work and lecturing.
She worked in the Australian prison system for 18 years and in the United States with Vietnam War veterans, Indigenous people and marginalised groups.
Ms Proud cites family as her biggest inspiration. She felt empowered by her parents Olga and Livingston Chambers and her nine older siblings. Her mother was part of the Stolen Generation.
“For me, giving back to community is a real highlight – that’s how we were raised. So starting the first kindy in Cherbourg when I was just 17 is very special to me,” she said.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill, who will present the award at the ceremony between 5pm and 7pm at the USC Sports Stadium, praised Ms Proud’s dedication to helping the community and enhancing cultural awareness.
— Julie Schomberg