Honorary awards

Dr Norman Swan

The degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) was conferred upon Dr Norman Swan at the Faculty of Medicine's 150th birthday celebrations held on 13 June 2006.

Dr Norman Swan

Chancellor the Hon Justice Kim Santow conferring the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) upon Dr Norman Swan on 13 June 2006 in the Great Hall, photo, courtesy Faculty of Medicine.

Dr Norman Swan

Chancellor the Hon Justice Kim Santow conferring the degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) upon Professor Sir Michael Marmot, with Emeritus Professor John Chalmers and Dr Norman Swan seated, photo, courtesy Faculty of Medicine.


Chancellor, I have the honour, again, to present Dr Norman Swan for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa.

Norman Swan graduated in medicine from the University of Aberdeen in 1976. He was awarded the Diploma of Child Health in 1978 by the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Surgeons, England; his membership of the UK Royal College of Physicians in 1980, and in 2004 was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Glasgow.

Dr Swan was Australia’s first medically qualified medical journalist and broadcaster and has been recognised for his achievements with many awards, including Australia’s leading mainstream journalism prize, the Gold Walkley and leading science journalism award, the Michael Daly, on two occasions. In 2003 he was also given the inaugural National Press Club Award for medical broadcasting. In 2004 he became only the third person to have been awarded the Medal of the Australian Academy of Science.

Since 1982, Dr Swan has been Producer/Presenter of The Health Report, on the ABC’s Radio National. He co-hosted Life Matters on ABC Radio National from 1996-2001. He has been a presenter of the weekly science program, Quantum, and guest reporter on Catalyst and 4 Corners. He created, wrote and narrated Invisible Enemies, a four part series on disease and civilization for the UK’s Channel 4 which was shown in 28 countries. In 2001-2002 he was host of Health Dimensions on ABC T.V.

During his career he has been a columnist and feature writer for many leading newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Age, Good Weekend Magazine, Good Medicine, Australian Doctor, Reader’s Digest, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the British Medical Journal.

Since 1989 he has been Co-Editor Choice Health Reader, a summary of medical literature for lay people, published by the Australian Consumers’ Association

His investigative journalism has exposed the weaknesses in Australia’s institutional responses to scientific fraud and he was instrumental in urging a national set of guidelines on good scientific practice, only the second country to do so after the United States.

He has consulted widely to major medical organisations including the Royal Australasian College of Physicians where he was a founding member of their Social Issues Committee; the National Health and Medical Research Council where he assisted with the development of their strategic research priorities; major teaching hospitals and state and federal governments on specific policies, often in relation to evidence based medicine and workforce issues.

Norman Swan is demonstrably Australia’s most prominent and respected health and medical broadcaster and writer. He has brought clarity, wisdom, critical appraisal and ethical standards to public debate on many vital health matters.

Chancellor, I present Norman Swan, paediatrician, investigative journalist and community educator, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa, and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.