• Dr Scrymgour receiving the honorary doctorate from Professor Houston
The first Indigenous woman to hold a ministerial position in any state or serritory parliament has been honoured for her work in Indigenous health.
Tara Callinan

29 Nov 2013 - 3:09 PM  UPDATED 29 Nov 2013 - 6:36 PM

Marion Scrymgour was awarded a doctorate in health science from the University of Sydney for her work in tackling issues of substance abuse, domestic violence and child protection in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Scrymgour joined the Northern Territory Parliament in 2001 and represented the people of Arafura for 11 years.

Prior to that, she worked in Indigenous health and established the Katherine West health Board in the Northern Territory.

Today Dr Scrymgour was overwhelmed at the recognition given for her achievements.

As a minister in the Northern Territory Labor government, Dr Scrymgour changed heritage laws in the Northern Territory and coordinated innovative health-care trials in the Katherine West region.

Professor Shane Houston nominated Dr Scrymgour for the award, saying her notable career in politics was worthy of praise.

"When you find someone who is just so committed to doing the right thing and doing it over a long period of time, that’s just worthy of recognition. I think Marion stood as one of Australia's best examples of talent all over the country," Professor Houston said.

But it was her desire to engage directly with Aboriginal communities that lead her to retire from politics in 2011.

She attributes the suicide of an eight-year-old girl as the turning point in her political career.

"I couldn’t stay in the political arena anymore, I had to get out and go back into the health arena," Dr Scrymgour said.

Now, she will return home to focus on suicide prevention and closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.