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Graduation ceremony marks the start of new opportunities - 09/06/2017

Joshua Hills From a first-year university student fresh out of high school to a senior policy officer in Canberra 12 years later, Joshua Hills will receive a Doctor of Philosophy at the graduation ceremony at Coffs Harbour today, clocking up his fourth award from Southern Cross University.

Dr Hills’ PhD thesis ‘Tourism management and subnational political borders under Australian federalism: Cross-border tourism management episodes in the Australian Central East Coast border region’ explored the development of cross-border tourism networks. His research focused on the opportunities and constraints to tourism collaboration across borders, with the aim of improving the sustainability of regional tourism management efforts.

The case study looked at the greater Gold Coast region, the Scenic Rim (Gold Coast hinterland) and the Northern Rivers in NSW.

“The marketing and management of most tourist destinations globally are based on government boundaries,” Dr Hills said.

“When tourists go to a destination they do not necessarily see borders, which means that the tourist experience and management in many destinations is dislocated. Someone going to the Gold Coast just doesn’t stay in the Gold Coast – they may also go to Tamborine Mountain (Scenic Rim) and visit Mount Warning (Tweed Shire).

Dr Hills’ study suggested the potential for greater funding assistance from higher levels government – state or federal – for cross-border projects.

“There is also potential for tourism stakeholders in border regions to develop stronger ongoing dialogue to learn how adjacent regions are managing tourism and to look for opportunities to work on cross-border tourism projects to improve experiences for tourists,” he said.

These days Dr Hills is a senior policy officer in the federal Department of Education and Training focused on research policy.

“Using my experience as a lecturer and researcher at Southern Cross University, I am contributing to improvements to government policy,” said Dr Hills. “A key part of this work is improving the Australian research training system that supports Doctoral and Masters (Research) candidates to become the nation’s future researchers and academics.”

After finishing Year 12 at Coffs Harbour High School, he was awarded the Coffs Ex-Services Club Scholarship to support his studies at Southern Cross University. He completed a Bachelor of Business in Hotel and Resort Management, followed by an Honours year, then a Graduate Certificate in Research Management. He was also a lecturer in the (then) School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and worked as a research assistant on a range of projects within the University.

Dr Hills said his journey is proof that embarking on a university degree creates opportunities.

“My path through university was unplanned. I kept getting offered scholarships and received significant support from my lecturers, who encouraged me to continue my studies. I really like the Coffs campus, too – it was a nice place to go every day.

“My advice to new students is to be open-minded about where your career can take you. I started a hospitality management degree but have since moved out of that industry. My studies have opened up more opportunities than I could have imagined.”

Dr Hills is among 100 graduands attending the 10am ceremony at the Coffs Harbour campus.

The Occasional Address will be delivered by Mr Clark Webb, Executive Officer at Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation and Operator of Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours.

Mr Webb helped established the AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) program at Southern Cross University in 2009. A Bundjalung/Gumbaynggirr man, Mr Webb finished Year 12 at Coffs Harbour High School before embarking on an archaeology degree at Sydney University. While there, Mr Webb was an AIME mentor for three years and saw firsthand the difference the program can make for Aboriginal high school students in giving them the skills, opportunities, belief and confidence to finish school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers.

Photo: Dr Joshua Hills

Media contact: Sharlene King, media officer, Southern Cross University, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.

For further information, please contact:
Communications and Publications
Southern Cross University
PO Box 157 • Lismore NSW 2480 • Australia
T +61 2 6620 3508 • e