Vale Professor Tony Vinson AM

23 February 2017

Sydney School of Education and Social Work, as well as the broader University and academic communities have been saddened to hear of the death of Professor Tony Vinson AM, on February 17, after a short illness.

Tony Vinson's initial qualifications were in arts and social work and he subsequently obtained a doctorate from the University of New South Wales for a sociological study of low birth weight babies. His professional career alternated between academic appointments and government and community positions. He held professorial appointments in Behavioural Science in Medicine at the University of Newcastle and Social Work at the University of New South Wales, as well as visiting professorships in Sweden and Holland.

In the early 1970s, Professor Vinson was Foundation Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research within the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice. From 1979 to 1981, he headed the NSW Department of Corrective Services during a period of intense reform following a Royal Commission into the state's prison system. In 2001 he was invited to chair a year-long Independent Inquiry into Public Education in NSW, a contribution that resulted in his receiving an inaugural NSW Government Award for Meritorious Services to Public Education.

Professor Vinson championed the study of the geographic distribution of social disadvantage in Australia, publishing four waves of data between 1998 and 2007. In 2015 he published the latest national study of the distribution of disadvantage (Dropping off the Edge). He was an Honorary Consultant to Mildura Regional Council's community-strengthening project and a similar project in the Gwydir Region of North-Western NSW. In 2008 he was admitted to membership of the Order of Australia and made a member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board. He was an Emeritus Professor of the University of New South Wales and an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney.

Professor Vinson's recent publications include a book on the rural city of Goulburn in the 19th century called Tenant in the Cathedrai, a book on political discourse in mid-19th century Australia, and Lifting Our Gaze, a distillation of five decades of scholarship and practice wisdom on achieving community change.

– Margot Rawsthorne is an associate professor in Sydney School of Education and Social Work where she lectures in community development. She was co-author, with Professor Vinson, of Lifting Our Gaze.

A memorial service to celebrate Tony's life will be held in the Great Hall at The University of Sydney, at 4.30pm on Monday, February 27. In keeping with Tony's wishes, the event will be informal. Please RSVP at: