Lynette Wallworth, Cherie Romaro and Mitch Torres receive AFTRS honorary degrees

Cherie Romaro, Lynette Wallworth, and Mitch Torres.

VR artist Lynette Wallworth, broadcasting pioneer Cherie Romaro, and broadcaster and filmmaker Mitch Torres have been recognised with honorary degrees from AFTRS.

Wallworth will receive a Doctor of Arts, Film and Television (honoris causa) 2019 Honorary Degree, which was not presented last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Romaro and Torres are recipients of the 2021 Honorary Degree, with a Doctor of Arts, Radio (honoris causa) and a Doctor of Arts, Film, and Television (honoris causa) being awarded respectively.

They will be presented at the school’s annual graduation ceremony today, which will also see 137 students graduate from the 2020 academic year.

Wallworth, who was AFTRS inaugural Artist-in-Residence last year, is an Emmy and AACTA award-winning artist/filmmaker whose varied works include Evolution of FearlessnessCoral, Tender, Collisions and Awavena.

Wallworth said she was “thrilled and honoured” with the recognition from AFTRS.

“The school has supported my work for over a decade, it has been a fruitful association and this honour is another milestone,” she said.

“I really appreciate the recognition for my work with its focus on emerging tech and immersive storytelling.”

Romaro began her executive career in commercial radio at a time when women were generally employed only as receptionists and executive assistants. She managed to break the mould to become Australia’s first-ever (commercial radio) female Music Director, occupying the role 2SM in Sydney.

After co-authoring three successful government submissions for FM licenses, she became the inaugural content director for 2MMMFM, later crossing to 2DAYFM working for the board of Michael Willesee, Graham Kennedy and John Laws and creating one of Australia’s most celebrated radio brands, the first ever soft adult contemporary format.

She said she felt priveliged to work in an industry she loved.

“Over the years I have had some extraordinary mentors, people who have really believed in me such as Rod Muir, Rhett Walker, Mike Willesee, Patrick Delany and John Williams,” she said.

“I have always believed in giving back and this amazing training facility AFTRS allows me to pass on my experience and knowledge to the students.”

Rounding out the honoury degree recipients is Torres, who was SBS’s first Indigenous presenter (1988) and went on to do her journalism cadetship with ABC TV news, later becoming the first presenter and field journalist for GWN’s long running magazine program Millbindi. 

She went on to become a broadcaster with Indigenous radio stations Goolarri in Broome and WAAMA 6NR in Perth, before joining ABC Kimberley as the morning show’s presenter and producer.

In the mid-1990s she turned her talents to visual storytelling and made her first short drama for the Shifting Sands Short Drama Initiative (SBS TV).

She then began making documentaries, including the award-winning Jandamarra’s War and the heartbreaking Whispering in our Hearts, a historical documentary about the Mowla Bluff Massacre in the West Kimberley.

Torres, who continues to create, research and produce projects to grow her own film company Nagarra Nagarra Film, paid tribute to those that had supported her throughout her career.

“I stand on the shoulders of many inspiring members of my family: my grandparents, parents and children and film media community who inspired me to craft our stories together,” she said.

“I also honour them as I receive this acknowledgment.

“I thank them for being a central part of my creative journey, and look forward to continuing and creating stories that matter.

AFTRS chair Russel Howcroft said Wallworth, Romaro, and Torres were worthy recipients of the degrees.

“An AFTRS honorary degree is only awarded to the highest achievers and it is one of the highest honours that can be conferred on a creative screen arts and broadcast practitioner in Australia,” he said.

“Lynette, Cherie, and Mitch are each inspiring leaders and innovators in their fields who continue to make outstanding contributions to the screen and broadcast culture in this country.”

Previous recipients of an AFTRS honorary degree are here