August 7, 2019

Vale Bob Hawke

On behalf of the UWA Student Guild, current UWA students and Guild Alumni we would like to farewell our 39th Guild President and Honorary Life Associate Member – Bob Hawke.

In 1950, Robert (Bob) James Lee Hawke, AC, GCL, launched his political career by being elected to the UWA Student Guild Council as the President of the Societies Council. In 1951 he went on to become Guild Vice-President, as well as Acting Guild President from August that same year. Bob Hawke was elected Guild President, by a majority of 68 votes, in 1952.

“Some of the happiest days of my life were here at the Guild and UWA,” Mr Hawke said. “I owed a gratitude to the many people I met here, as they helped to shape me as a person.  It is a wonderful experience to have shared.”

While still a student at UWA, he established the first International Club, affiliated with the Student Guild. “I believed it was important to bring together the many international students into the wider UWA community,” Hawke said.

The UWA Student Guild has researched its archives and found some great memories from Bob’s time at UWA.  In 1952, Bob Hawke penned an inspiring welcome to Freshers in the April Pelican issue, writing: 

“I want sincerely to ask that you realise the significance of your entry into the University community… it is potentially the most important event which has happened in your lives so far. You are coming from the somewhat restraining atmosphere of the secondary school into an environment which gives you every possible opportunity to develop your intellect, character and personality. You will find a comparative lack of discipline external to yourselves – to a large extent you have become your own disciplinarian. This, of course, involves distinct responsibilities to yourself, to those by whose sacrifices it has been made possible for you to attend the Uni, to your fellow students, and finally to the whole society of which we are all a part.


If you are prepared to realise that all this is not just so many words, the question then becomes one of how to discharge these responsibilities and to get the most out of your opportunities. [The] Answer is simple. Lead a full life while you are here. This is not an exhortation to go to the pub every night after lectures, but to take an active interest in some of the varied activities of the University – sport, social and political clubs, intellectual discussion groups, in addition to putting a decent effort into your academic work. And, most important, take an active and intelligent interest in your own student government – make yourself informed and put your point of view through your Guild Councillors and at general meetings.

Finally, I would ask that you keep an open mind on all things. Rid yourself of bias or preconceived prejudices and accept the intellectual responsibility of thinking clearly. If you do this, you will find that at the end of your University career its main purpose will have been achieved – you will be equipped for worth-while citizenship and to give a lead to those who may be less fortunate than yourselves.”

Bob’s words are still echoed through the UWA Student Guild community today. 

In his final year at UWA in 1953, Bob Hawke remained on Guild Council as Immediate Past President, before leaving for Oxford University after winning a Rhodes Scholarship. Apart from his educational brilliance Bob was compassionate, fair and supportive of students not only in Western Australia but across the country. His legacy will continue and we are all grateful for his contributions to society.

In 2013 Bob Hawke was made an Honorary Life Associate Member of the UWA Student Guild for his services to students and education.

Vale Bob Hawke.

Please see for some images from Bob Hawke’s time here with the UWA Student Guild.