Honorary Doctorate for Professor Tony Vinson

13 April 2005

One of Australia's leading social scientists and outspoken public intellectuals, Professor Tony Vinson will be conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters in Social Work (honoris causa) at a graduation ceremony at the University of Sydney this Friday, April 15 at 4pm.

Prof. Vinson is currently an Honorary Professor in the School of Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney from which he graduated in 1956. His career spans the disciplines of social work, social policy, psychology, education, public administration and social research.

Prof. Vinson began his life-long service to the people of New South Wales in 1957 as one of three parole officers in the newly formed Parole Service of the NSW Department of Prisons. After he was appointed chairman of the NSW Corrective Services Commission in 1979, Tony Vinson undertook sweeping reforms following the Nagle Royal Commission into the state's prison system.

In his occasional address to the graduating social work and education students on Friday, Prof. Vinson will speak about the ever-expanding NSW prison system as a means of dealing with social and educational disadvantage.

"Over the past 20 years we have witnessed a highly theatrical Carnival of Incarceration as politicians have vied with one another to demonstrate who can be the more punitive. In the past 10 years prison numbers have increased by almost 50 per cent, a significant proportion being women, particularly Aboriginal women. For our political leaders to boast about this increase is not only abhorrent but also illogical," Prof. Vinson says.

"How long will it take for the lesson to sink-in that prisons, necessary for handling some cases, are nonetheless socially toxic institutions? Recent political comments like 'We've bricked them in' illustrate the point."

Prof. Tony Vinson remains a strong voice reminding government and the community that poverty is a significant social problem in Australia. The promotion of social justice is the consistent theme throughout his career, one that he continues to pursue strenuously.

Presentation of Honorary Doctorate to Prof. Tony Vinson:

Time: 4pm

Date: Friday April 15, 2005

Place: The Great Hall, University of Sydney

Media contacts: Andrew Potter 0414 998 521 ; Virginia Gawler 9351 2261/ 0423 782 603