“Dorothy Hoddinott is an inspirational human rights champion who has worked tirelessly protecting the rights of refugee and asylum seeker students in her long career as an educator in Australia,” said University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Stephen Garton AM. “Her commitment to social justice and to increasing the role of human rights in education is very impressive.”
Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the wider community or who have achieved exceptional academic or creative excellence. Dorothy Hoddinott has been admitted to the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).
Ms Hoddinott graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts, a Diploma of Education and a Master of Arts in 1965.
During her time as a student, she served on the Board of the then Women’s Union and was a contributing cartoonist to Honi Soit working alongside writers Bob Ellis, Laurie Oakes, Bruce Beresford and Les Murray.
She was involved in the original committee that worked to establish International House, and was a founding Director of the University of Sydney Union Foundation.
During her career, Ms Hoddinott taught at Beverly Hills Girls’ High School, the Downs School for Girls UK, the International School of Milan, Punchbowl Boys’ High School, Leichhardt High School, Bankstown Boys’ High School as Head Teacher English and Wiley Park Girls’ High School as Leading Teacher.
She was Principal of Holroyd High School for 23 years until her retirement in 2018. Holroyd High School is a disadvantaged school in Western Sydney, largely comprising a recently arrived immigrant and refugee community, including asylum seekers.
Ms Hoddinott, who had a reputation at the school for her kindness, said six out of ten students were refugees. Most arrived with no English and many were illiterate. However, 40 percent went on to university. The national average is 30 percent.
Under her leadership, the school achieved remarkable success in the provision of programs to support students who had experienced trauma, displacement, and disrupted education. The school received the Director-General’s School Achievement Award for its English as a Second Language programs in 2001 and was shortlisted for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Community Award in 2012.
She negotiated with NSW universities and the NSW Department of Education to establish refugee support programs to provide tutoring and mentoring for refugee students and was successful in establishing tertiary scholarships for students with temporary protection visas.
As an officer and later a member of the NSW Board of Studies, Ms Hoddinott was instrumental in the implementation of appropriate English language syllabuses for students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Throughout her professional career, Ms Hoddinott played a leadership role in the development of specific standards to meet the learning needs of students for whom English is a second language, including training of mainstream teachers in the language, literacy and welfare needs of recently arrived students of non-English speaking background.
She was instrumental in the establishment of the Australian Council of TESOL Associations, and of the Australian Joint Council of Professional Teachers’ Associations (now the Australian Professional Teachers’ Association) and was inaugural President of the Australian Joint Council
Ms Hoddinott is one of Australia’s most widely recognised school leaders. Through her leadership and advocacy, teachers’ professional associations have gained a national voice in educational policy development and decision-making.
Ms Hoddinott has a deep, lifelong commitment to social justice. In recognition of her work, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney in 2006 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2008. In 2012, she was awarded the Medal of the Australian College of Educators, the first time the medal had been awarded to an educator working in a school
She was commended in the New South Wales Meritorious Service to Public Education and Training Awards in 2005 and was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 2014 in recognition of her work protecting the human rights of refugee and disadvantaged students.