Former prime minister Julia Gillard has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Melbourne's RMIT University at its first in-person graduation since the start of the pandemic.
About 30,000 graduates from 2021 and 2020, as well as their family and friends, attended the event at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday.
As part of the ceremony, Ms Gillard was awarded a Doctor of Law honoris causa in recognition of her commitment to education, gender equality and inclusion.
Ms Gillard delivered a speech via live stream from her home in Adelaide, acknowledging the difficulty of the last two years for students, who largely have studied from home.
"I know, you as students, would have found the pandemic disruption and the loss of campus contact especially difficult," she said.
"You would have had to summon even more perseverance and resilience to get through. But you've made it and today is your day."
She said education had a "transformative power" and was the "foundation for building a life of empowerment and choice."
RMIT Interim Vice-Chancellor and President Dionne Higgins said Ms Gillard had made an exceptional contribution to both the community and public service throughout her life.
"Her passion for education, gender equality and inclusion, and fierce determination to push the boundaries has delivered nation-changing policies and reformed Australia's education at every level," she said in a statement.
Ms Gillard was Australia's first and only female prime minister, serving from 2010 to 2013.
She received worldwide attention for her 2012 parliamentary speech on the treatment of women in professional and public life and has since gone on to hold multiple leadership roles across the globe, including as chair of the Global Partnership for Education since 2014.
Australian Associated Press
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