Yamatji elder Mara West's significant contribution to the welfare and development of Aboriginal people in WA has seen her awarded Murdoch University's highest honour.
She received the honorary degree of Doctor of the University alongside hundreds of graduating students.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Dr West is a key member of the Kulungu Aboriginal Research Development Unit at Telethon Kids Institute and chair of the HEAL (Healthy Environment and Lives) Network WA Aboriginal Reference Group.
"It's a great honour for me to be standing here this evening and I stand here with mixed feelings as I remember what was, what is and what could be," Dr West said in her address to graduates.
"...We live in interesting times where the world and our environment are rapidly changing. Have the courage and passion to be a great thinker and visionary change maker committed to developing creative solutions that will address the social, economic and political issues facing us.
"We live in one of the best countries in the world but what sort of Australia do we want for our children and their children?
"Let's walk together to create a better tomorrow for all Australians."
Dr West was born on the banks of the Gascoyne River. She grew up experiencing poverty, racism, hardship and disadvantage.
Encouraged by her mother to pursue an education, Dr West was the fourth Indigenous person to graduate from Murdoch, completing a bachelor of arts in comparative literature and communication studies, followed by honours in sustainable development.
She was vital in setting up the first Murdoch University Aboriginal advisory committee.
Since 1988 Dr West has worked as part of Murdoch's remote area developments group to deliver water and wastewater systems to remote communities.
She has worked closely with communities to set up training centres to ensure Indigenous people have access to a wide range of education and training. She is the only Aboriginal chair of a TAFE governing council in Australia.
Our journalists work hard to provide up-to-date news for seniors across Australia. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.