Doctor of Letters (honoris causa)
Citation delivered by Professor Gerard Sutton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Christine Nixon to the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on 17 December 2003.
In 2001, Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon became Victoria’s nineteenth Police Commissioner and the first woman to lead a State police force in Australia. Her achievement is notable for the challenges she faced, her intellectual yet compassionate engagement with social issues, and her strong collegial spirit. Nelson Mandela once said: “No leader, no champion, who puts him or herself above the people and above the team deserves that title or status”. By that definition, Christine Nixon fully deserves to be called an exceptional Australian leader.
As a woman joining the police service in 1972, Christine Nixon had to fight for but won a chance to perform operational duties. She was, subsequently, appointed to one of the toughest NSW beats - Darlinghurst (which includes Kings Cross and surrounding areas). This was a transforming experience which gave her an insight into the different layers of Australian society and a lasting commitment to minority and disenfranchised groups.
Christine Nixon rose to become a Senior Policy Advisor to the former NSW Police Commissioner, John Avery. She was able to provide much of the intellectual foundation for his broad ranging police reforms and still regards John Avery, a man of rare ethical fibre, as a mentor and advisor. Her career progressed rapidly in the 1990s, peaking with her appointment as Assistant Commissioner in the New South Wales Police Force. Her last command in this state was the South East Region, based in Wollongong, where she helped to forge valuable links with this University.
Christine Nixon was a strong advocate for the introduction of university-based police education programs. In this, she was, as always, a role model for her colleagues. Christine has a distinguished academic record. A graduate in Philosophy and Politics from Macquarie University, she also studied at Harvard, taking out a Master in Public Administration in 1985. She won a research scholarship to study in the Criminal Justice Policy and Management Program at Harvard and was a Foreign and Commonwealth Officer Scholar seconded to the Metropolitan Police Service in London. Christine has used her academic and policing experience to forge strong links between the police and the university system in Australia, building research partnerships across a range of fields and with a variety of Australian universities.
Christine Nixon’s expertise and her long commitment to social and police reform has involved her in bodies such as the NSW Premier’s Taskforces on domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault, the Law Foundation of NSW, and the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. She is a foundation advisor to the Australian Graduate School of Public Administration and the President of the Australasian Council of Women and Policing. She is also currently Chair of the Australian Police Professional Standards Council and sponsor of the Australian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau.
Christine has been recognised for an outstanding contribution to policing in Australia. She is a great champion of social justice and has spoken out for the rights of women and minority groups as well as giving her time and her patronage to a great many causes. Her many awards include the Australian Police Medal, the Glass Ceiling Award from the United States National Centre for Women and Policing and the Australasian Women and Policing Award for Leadership in 2000.
Today this University recognises a leader with an enquiring mind, a love of learning and a zest for understanding and thus improving the society around her. Christine Nixon indeed exemplifies the very best of the qualities we wish to see in all our graduates.
Chancellor, it is my great pleasure and privilege to present Christine Nixon for the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.