The Honourable Desmond Derrington QC


Honorary award citation

The Honourable Desmond Derrington QC will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws and address a University of Queensland graduation ceremony on Friday, December 15.

Justice Derrington's honorary doctorate recognises his distinguished career and his outstanding service to the State of Queensland.

He will be guest speaker when students from UQ's Health Sciences Faculty graduate from 5pm in Mayne Hall at the St Lucia campus.

Graduates from the faculty specialise in health studies, medical science, medical studies, mental health, medicine and surgery.

Justice Derrington began his career in 1945 as a 14-year-old clerk in the Public Curator's Office, retired earlier this year as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland and is now an Adjunct Professor in the University of Queensland's T.C. Beirne School of Law.

A University of Queensland graduate, he was admitted to the Bar in 1954, took silk in 1974 and became a Queensland Supreme Court Judge in 1982. His service includes the Land Appeals Court (president 1985-87), the Medical Assessment Tribunal (1988-89), the Election Tribunal (1990) and the Mental Health Tribunal (president 1992-94).

He has served the community as foundation President of the Institute of Modern Art in 1974 and as a member of the Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts finance committee and the LaBoite Theatre Company committee.

His extensive publications in the area of insurance law earned him the highly coveted awards of the Medal L'Association Internationale de Droits de Assurances in 1994 and the Australian Insurance Law Association Award in 1997.

* At least seven years of hard work has paid off for Medical Students graduating at the ceremony. They are the first to come through a new course that requires a prior degree, and a rigorous entrance exam. In the past students have entered the course straight from year 12. Students came from backgrounds as diverse as mathematics, music and motor mechanics. The University started the groundbreaking course in 1997 to better equip students for the rapid explosion of medical knowledge, to make sure that new advances in adult education were being presented in the curriculum, and to give prospective students time to decide if medicine would be the right career for them.

Graduates of interest include:
* Steven Scally (telephone 0412091991 ), Thomas Schulz and Peter Effeney, who completed the final year medical elective subject of their Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees by participating in the Kokoda 2000 medical expedition to Papua New Guinea in October. The aims of the expedition were to pay a tribute to the Australian soldiers who had fought the Japanese along the Kokoda Trail in 1942 and to thank the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels" who had helped injured soldiers by providing medical care and advice to their people. The expedition was conceived, led and organised by Mr Scally, an Army captain whose studies are sponsored by the Australian Defence Forces, and Brisbane GP Dr Matt Young, with who Mr Scally had worked during his studies. "I went over to Kokoda in 1995 as part of the Defence Forces and NSW Police contingent for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, and I had wanted to go back ever since," Mr Scally said. "I mentioned it to Dr Young, who was also keen, and to Peter and Tom, who are both experienced adventurers. Tom was already going to PNG, anyway." After a year of planning the expedition resulted in a team of six doctors, the three UQ medical students, a nurse and a photographer walking the trail in 12 days and stopping at nine villages on the way to conduct health clinics. Pharmaceutical companies and medical suppliers supported the journey. Besides considerable logistical difficulties, the team also had to overcome the closure of the trail by the Australian High Commission for security reasons and political troubles with landowners. "Things were touch and go right until about a week before we left," Mr Scally said. Mr Scally and Mr Effeney remained for two weeks after the expedition working in a hospital in provincial Popondetta, and Mr Schulz worked in Wewak.

* Music Therapy Course Co-ordinator at UQ's School of Music Dr Jane Edwards (telephone 07 3365 3740) will be awarded a PhD in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health for her research. Dr Edwards surveyed music therapists, doctors and allied health professionals and found general agreement as to the future research directions for music therapy with hospitalised children. Music therapy can involve playing music or singing with children and adults, teaching songs or musical pieces or improvising with music. For a 1999 UQ Foundation grant, Dr Edwards studied the music therapy techniques used to help rehabilitate three children with a range of difficulties following car accidents. This study was in conjunction with the RCHF/Ray White senior music therapist at the Royal Children's Hospital Jeanette Kennelly. A $7700 grant from UQ's Office of Gender Equity enabled her to take time off from her teaching commitments to conduct the research that was part of her PhD. Dr Edwards established the Music Therapy Program at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) in 1993 to help provide clinical placements for UQ's course. "This started in just one unit of the Hospital but now is offered to most wards and even as an outpatient service. The Clinical Music Therapy Tutor position established there in 1998 was the first non-medical joint appointment between the RCH and The University of Queensland, and having two music therapists working in a hospital was relatively unique for this stage of development in the profession in Australia," she said.

* John Whitchurch (telephone 3279 1302), whose Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery graduation will come 35 years after he enrolled for a medical degree at The University of Queensland. In 1965 Mr Whitchurch enrolled in Medicine, but said he was more dedicated to "surfing down the coast with my mates." "I failed the first year and the University told me to go away, so the following year I enrolled in Dentistry, but exactly the same thing happened, and I was out on my ear again," he said. Mr Whitchurch then became an Australian Electoral Office clerk in Southport and later Kalgoorlie. "There was no election and not much to do in Kalgoorlie in 1968, so I applied to do teacher training in Sydney, and was accepted for 1969-70," he said. For the next six years Mr Whitchurch worked as a teacher and principal on Groote Eylandt and in small outback Aboriginal "caravan" schools in the Northern Territory and also in Alice Springs. During this time he studied and received a Bachelor of Education externally through UQ and returned to Brisbane to teach at Jindalee in 1976. In 1981 he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts from UQ and received a graduate diploma in Special Education from Mt Gravatt CAE. "I have been involved in remedial teaching, behaviour adjustment teaching and intellectual impairment teaching ever since," he said. Mr Whitchurch never lost his desire to study Medicine, and was accepted in the UQ Graduate Medical Course in 1997. "They obviously had all my records from years ago because after the interview they told me I would need to make a special application to the Dean to be readmitted," he said. Mr Whitchurch is now on surgery rotation at the QE II Hospital and hopes to enter a General Practice training program.


Doctor of Laws honoris causa


Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Laws
Doctor of Laws honoris causa