Honorary Doctorate (April 2006)
Robert de Castella was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in April 2006 in recognition of his long service to Australian sport, health and well-being.
Robert de Castella ranks among Australia’s best-known athletes. A champion marathon runner for over a decade, Mr de Castella competed in over 20 marathons, winning nine and finishing in the top 10 in all but two. He won gold in both the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, and 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. In 1983 he was recognised as Australian of the Year, and served as director of the Australian Institute of Sport for five years. He resigned from the AIS in 1995 to establish his own public health company, focused on changing society’s attitudes to health and fitness. This company developed SmartStart for Kids!, a program that for six years, has been assessing the health and fitness of 30,000 primary school children in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. They have worked with schools and teachers to provide professional development and assist them with the design of the most effective curricula and extra curricular activities. He has also developed a program designed to assist companies and adults improve their health, fitness and wellbeing, and is involved in many other health programs and activities with charities, government and business. SmartStart and our Centre for Healthy Activities, Sport and Exercise have already collaborated on various projects, with synergies in promoting health in our local communities. In January 2003, Mr de Castella and family, together with some 500 other Canberra residents, lost his home and all possessions in devastating bushfires. His positive attitude and leadership helped many people involved with the disaster. He served on the ACT Government’s Recovery task force and was instrumental in aiding the affected community to recover.