Swimmer Ian Thorpe collects honorary doctorate

Ian Thorpe

Olympian Ian Thorpe OAM has been recognised for his support of Indigenous health and education with an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Sydney.

Since making a global splash at a young age in world-class swimming, Mr Thorpe has continued to play a prominent public roll advocating for better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

At the height of his sporting success in 2000 Mr Thorpe established his Fountain for Youth charity, which supports children in remote communities across Australia. 

It funds projects such as maternal and child health education delivered by the Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in the remote communities east of Katherine, and the Literacy Empowerment Project which is reaching as many as 2,600 children and their families.

Mr Thorpe, who grew up in south-western Sydney is one of Australia’s greatest Olympians - winning five gold, three silver and one bronze at the Sydney and Athens Games. In a stellar swimming career he set numerous world records, held eleven World Championship titles, and received a host of Australian and international sporting awards. In 1998 at age 15 he became the youngest individual world champion in swimming.

In 2012 he was awarded the Human Rights Medal by the Human Rights Commission for his dedication to helping improve the lives of Indigenous children in Australia. He has also been a patron of the Closing the Gap Campaign to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people and communities.

Ian Thorpe’s achievements in the pool have given the nation an enduring sporting legacy but his work through Fountain of Youth may well prove to be his greatest contribution.

On Wednesday 18 December Ian Thorpe OAM received the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of his support for health and education services for Indigenous youth.

Honorary doctorates are conferred by the UWS Board of Trustees on distinguished individuals who have contributed to the advancement of knowledge or the betterment of society and who have achieved eminence in their field of endeavour at local, State, national or international level.

19 December 2013

Photo: Sally Tsoutas 

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