Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia and Chair of the Group of Eight.



As an active academic Professor Freshwater serves on the HEFCE Research Excellence Framework (REF) panel in the UK; reviews and acts in an advisory capacity for the National Institute for Health Research and MRC and to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. She contributes to clinical academic fellowship panels and to awards of doctoral training centres. Her most recent research in the area of women’s leadership was funded by the British Council and led to a Global Education Dialogue in Hong Kong.

In her leadership capacity, Professor Freshwater has championed and led a number of initiatives, including leading the University’s major reform. She has also led the recruitment of 50 leadership Chairs, implemented a zoning approach to professorial careers, has been responsible for the successful achievement of a University Athena Swan award and for creating a strategy for equality and inclusion.

A strong advocate for inclusion and diversity, and a values-led leader, Dawn has supported a number of initiatives in this area. In the UK she achieved a University wide Athena SWAN award at the University of Leeds, and worked towards implementing the Equality Charter Mark, ensuring all staff and students with protected characteristics were represented at all levels. As SVDC at UWA she delivered an Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, and continues to champion a culture of equal opportunity in her current role. As VC she sits on the NHMRC women in science committee, and continues to contribute to the knowledge base of research in leadership.

Professor Freshwater continues to give back to society, never forgetting her roots, and happily volunteers her expertise and time to support the development of better services for young people, experiencing psychological distress, at home, in care and in custodial settings while being involved with the Forrest Research Foundation who attracts outstanding minds to Western Australia to undertake high quality research with the potential to change the world.

The Foundation was established in 2014 following one of the largest ever philanthropic donations in Australian history, of $65million by Andrew and Nicola Forrest through the Minderoo Foundation. The donation is used to drive research and innovation capacity in Western Australia by awarding Forrest Scholarships to outstanding young intellects from around the world to conduct research at one of Western Australia’s five universities – The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University and University of Notre Dame.