Alumni Awards 2016

2016 Alumni Awards Winners 

The 2016 Western Sydney University Awards were presented on campus at Parramatta on Tuesday, 5 April.

We would like to announce that the Award Winners for 2016 are:

  • Chancellor's Alumni Leadership Award, Dr Genevieve Nelson
  • Young Alumni Award, Mr Peter Hope
  • International Alumni of the Year, Dr Kamaludeen Nasir
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award, Mr David Southon
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Impact Award, Mr Jarred Hodges
  • Community Champion Alumni Award, Ms Betty Green
  • Hawkesbury Alumni Award, Professor John Longworth
  • Former Staff Excellence Award, Dr Rae Luckie

Congratulations once again to all of our Award Finalists and thank you to all of our exceptional Nominees.

For more information on each of our Winners and Finalists we encourage you to view the bios below:


Chancellor's Alumni Leadership Award

Dr Genevieve Nelson, Winner

Genevieve Nelson CEO, Kokoda Track Foundation

Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), 2004
Doctor of Philosophy, 2008

Genevieve is one of the founding directors of the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), which was established in 2003, and has been the CEO since 2009. She holds a doctorate in cross-cultural and educational psychology from Western Sydney University and is an expert in education in Papua New Guinea. She spent many months living in the villages along the Kokoda Track during her PhD,collecting data for her research and working with the communities.

Over the past five years, Genevieve and her team at KTF have raised over $5 million to support projects in the vital areas of education, health, livelihoods and leadership, changing the lives of thousands of people in rural and remote PNG. Genevieve has overseen the delivery of these projects, which are recognised by both the Australian Council for International Development and the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Genevieve is very proud of her long connection with the University. After completing both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies, and working at the Centre for Educational Research following her PhD, Genevieve continued to foster her relationships at the University via an adjunct research fellowship, participation in research grants, and contribution to the alumni community. She proudly associates herself with Western Sydney University and attributes much of her success to the support and opportunities she was given by her peers, academic staff and fellow National Leadership Scholarship recipients.

Mr Kieran Ginges, Finalist

Kieran Ginges Barrister, Maurice Byers Chambers

Bachelor of Arts, 2000Bachelor of Laws, 2001

Kieran has a long association with Western Sydney, attending primary and secondary school in the region before going on to study at the then UWS Nepean campus in 1996. Kieran immediately developed a strong connection with the University and its law students. He was instrumental in establishing the University's Law Students Society (LSS), organised the first Law Ball and approached many law firms to raise awareness of the law school and its graduates, and to secure financial support for the LSS.

After completing his studies, Kieran spent 15 months working in the United Kingdom with the UK Department of Trade and Industry – Insolvency Service. On returning to Australia, he worked with Professor Carolyn Sappideen to establish the Law Alumni Association, and Director of Academic Programs for the LLB program, John Juriansz to coordinate annual Law Alumni dinners, attracting eminent legal practitioners and justices.

Kieran became one of the first Western Sydney University graduates to become a barrister and establish an impressive and flourishing practice. He is a person of inherent fairness, a fearless advocate for the interests of those he represents, and a caring mentor. Kieran is an accomplished and effective jury advocate, working both as a defence lawyer as well as prosecuting on behalf of the Crown in significant criminal trials.

Apart from his court-based achievements, Kieran has displayed a solid record of community engagement. He has had a substantial Legal Aid practice and undertaken pro bono work. Kieran has been a member of the Law Society's Criminal Law Committee for the past three years and the Bar Association's Criminal Law Committee for the past four years.

Professor Richard Petty, Finalist

Richard Petty Chairman, Australian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong & Macau

Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Accounting, 1993

Richard has achieved significant success in business, as an academic, and as a company director. A hard work ethic that was instilled in him while growing up in Western Sydney saw him become, at 37 years of age, the youngest ever Global Chair of the largest professional accounting body in Asia, and 4th largest globally, CPA Australia. At age 39, he is also the youngest ever life member of that organisation. In addition to being on the board of listed companies and non-profit organisations in Australia, he serves on several international boards, including in London, New York and Hong Kong. Since 2012, he has been Chairman of the largest Australian Chamber of Commerce globally (The Australian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and Macau).

Richard has a deep connection to, and an affinity for, Western Sydney, where he grew up and lived until he was in his 20s. He started his first business in Western Sydney in 1987 and has been a keen supporter of the Western Sydney community. He has mentored school children, spoken at school functions, advised small business owners on a pro bono basis, and advised the NSW Government on development plans for the region – all while identifying himself as a proud product of the region. Richard's first academic appointment was at Western Sydney University (part-time lecturer in 1992) and during his time as Chairman of CPA Australia, he worked on a program that sought to increase the rates of educational participation across Western Sydney.

Richard is recognised as a global leader in the finance and accounting professions, and as a leading Australian doing business in Asia. Richard believes that education has transformed his life and he is deeply committed to ensuring that everyone has access to educational opportunities.

Young Alumni Award

Mr Peter Hope, Winner

Peter Hope Community Project Officer, Fairfield City Council
Age 34

Bachelor of Arts (Music), 2003

After graduating from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Arts (Music) in 2003, Peter obtained youth work qualifications. For the past twelve years Peter has excelled in his youth work career in the Fairfield area. Peter embraces his broad, multidisciplinary skill set to achieve positive outcomes in youth work, local government leadership, volunteer work and arts administration.

As a youth worker, Peter has been able to support, educate, mentor and inspire young people to recognise and achieve their potential. Holding youth sector positions in generalist, health, and multicultural policy, as well as community development has given him a rounded perspective on the needs of young people. Peter's efforts have been recognised by a Western Sydney Community ZEST Award nomination (Outstanding Leader) and NSW Youth Work Award nominations in 2013 and 2015 (Best Youth Worker).

He is very committed to his first love of the arts and likes to make the most of his background as a musician and performer to create opportunities in his youth work, and attributes a great deal of his understanding of diversity to his time spent at Western Sydney University.

Peter continues to provide professional and personal expertise to support Western Sydney University through the School of Medicine (SOM) Community Participation Council. He has had regular involvement with the school and contributed to the establishment of the SOM Network of Friends.

Ms Aleksandra Ilic, Finalist

AleksandraSolicitor, King & Wood Mallesons
Age 25

Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, 2014

Aleksandra is only 25, yet she's already made a substantial mark on the community. She is a highly motivated and extremely capable individual, making the shortlist for the NSW Rhodes Scholar in 2016. A year post-graduation, Aleksandra is a solicitoron- the-rise at the prestigious multinational law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), working in dispute resolution and intellectual property, and a keen contributor to the firm's pro bono and community work. She writes regularly for KWM's national online journal InCompetition, wading into complex legal debates with insight and clarity well beyond her years and level of experience.

Aleksandra's involvement with KWM started several years ago, when she worked there as a law clerk. It was during this time that she began to carve out a cause-related 'for good' niche in the firm, co-ordinating 'KWM in the Community' programs across Australia, including Lawyers in the Schools,KWM Aspire Award and Together for a Cause. This speaks volumes about Aleksandra's character – she goes above and beyond in whatever she does, seeking to maximise her contribution and make the biggest impact she possibly can. KWM recently received the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW's Pro Bono Partnership Award – an achievement in which Aleksandra played a key role.

Aleksandra cares passionately about big picture global justice issues – civil rights and social action, education, human rights and poverty alleviation. Her Serbian background means that she understands injustice and disadvantage, and that the surest route from poverty is education. Aleksandra is already a leader and an inspiration – to both the next generation of graduates and the Greater West.

Mr Janath Samira Kasthuriarachchi, Finalist

Janath Kasthu Physiotherapist, First Point Physiotherapy
Age 24

Bachelor of Health Science/Master of Physiotherapy, 2015

Janath has taken part in a wide range of voluntary and professional work and has made a significant positive impact in the community. In both professional and voluntary work, he is a natural leader - compelling, motivated and passionate. Professionally, he has worked as a physiotherapist, massage therapist and sports medic in a variety of roles. He is an exceptional young health worker and his patients and clients can attest to the difference he has made in their lives through his tireless work.

Outside his professional life, Janath is President of the Lankan Islanders Cricket Club, a club run by youth with the vision of promoting positive change in the community through cricket. In his role, Janath has undertaken considerable fundraising efforts, providing donations to many charities and organisations.

A significant recent achievement of Janath's has been the setting up and coordination of the North West Sydney Hurricanes Women's Third Grade team. Realising that young women in the Western Sydney region did not have the opportunity to play cricket, Janath took on the task of setting up a team, coaching a group entirely new to cricket, organising games and training. His efforts have had a significant impact on the lives of the young women involved and have helped to promote sport and all the benefits that come with it in the Western Sydney region. He truly is a community leader. Janath works tirelessly to improve the lives of others, both in his professional life and beyond. He is an inspiration to future generations, both graduates of the University and the community at large.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alumni Award

Mr David Southon, Winner

David Southon Co-founder and Joint Managing Director, Charter Hall Limited

Bachelor of Business (Land Economy), 1987

David is now one of Australia's most successful businessmen. A man of intellect and prescience, David does the University proud with his outstanding success story. He is a rising star whose extraordinary achievements are born out of a combination of tertiary education, determination, and excellence.

In the business world particularly, David's career is still young. But he has taken calculated risks that have paid off handsomely. In 1991, just four years after he graduated, David co-founded Charter Hall. It was a bold move for the time, especially in the midst of the property bust that followed the 80s boom. In this market, attracting investors was going to be a challenge. David and his two partners (Cedric Fuchs and Andre Biet) knew they didn't want to sound like a start-up and so opted for on an old school name. Enter Charter Hall.

David's company is an Australian success story of epic proportions. With a 21st century outlook that demonstrates David's understanding of the value of teamwork and partnership, it is now a major player in property investment and funds management.

With 25+ years at its helm, David has played an instrumental role in Charter Hall's journey from an innovative start-up company to one of Australia's largest and most trusted property managers. Today, it has $14.8 billion in funds under management and owns and manages 293 commercial properties around Australia including office buildings, retail centres, and a rapidly growing stable of industrial assets, on behalf of institutional, wholesale and retail investors.

Mr Martin Hollander, Finalist

Martin Hollander Managing Director, Investments, Barangaroo Private Holdings

Master of Commerce (Honours), 1999

Working in Chicago, London, Tianjin and Montreal, Martin has a keen interest in financial and environmental markets, beginning when he was asked to lead the Climate Exchange's (CLE) global expansion. CLE developed and operated the largest environmental financial and emissions markets globally. Its platform is licensed around the world and is the infrastructure underpinning most carbon trading mechanisms today.

Martin was responsible for securing the first ever foreign ownership in a Chinese exchange alongside a Chinese state owned enterprise (China National Petroleum Corporation) and provincial government (the City of Tianjin). The technology transfer, education and training of Chinese nationals and facilitation of IP licensing provided the innovation required to launch provincial pilot programs in 2009 which led to the 2015 announcement of a national cap and trade program in China, which became the largest globally.

In 2010, Martin co-founded AMP CNG operating the largest network of compressed natural gas fuelling stations across the United States. The company's rationale was to find ways to benefit the environment and the economy. Since starting, over 19m litres of fuel has been displaced and over 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions eliminated. AMP CNG also now operates the largest biogas fuelling plant in the US, converting waste to renewable natural gas to power dairy tankers across the country.

Since returning to Australia, Martin has co-founded Barangaroo Private Holdings (BPH). BPH is focused on acquiring controlling interests in 'essential product and service' companies by offering business owners sale mechanisms and exit options that are currently unavailable. In doing so, Martin has developed a platform that addresses the needs of Australian small business owners.

Mr George Konstand, Finalist

George Konstand Managing Director, Brandology Enterprises Pty Ltd

Bachelor of Arts, 2008

George is the Founder and Managing Director of Brandology Enterprises Pty Ltd, named by Anthill Magazine one of the top 10 Coolest Companies in Australia.

Since 2013, George has set out to revolutionise 'entrepreneurialism' within Australia and internationally, founding an InCrowd App, the first crowdsourcing app of its kind. InCrowd App geographically connects entrepreneurs around the globe, to facilitate 'better networking'. As an author, George believes in the power of providing value and ongoing thought leadership, addressing audiences in areas of branding, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Since founding Brandology Enterprises Pty Ltd three years ago, George has been profiled as 'Australia's own Branding Guru' [Anthill Magazine Dec, 2014] and been invited to be a Judge at the 2015 SMART100 Innovation Awards. He has appeared twice on Sky Business News, in 2015 as an 'Entrepreneurial Thought Leader' and 'Inventor of Tinder for Entrepreneurs', as well as providing a corporate consulting service as a specialist in the field of 'Brandology'. George continues to collaborate with start-up companies and entrepreneurs, investing and facilitating partnerships.

As the Inventor of InCrowd App, George and Brandology Enterprises Pty Ltd have been recognised by the Australian Government as an 'innovative company' using the latest advancements in technology to invent tools of opportunity. The InCrowd App enterprise has received R&D incentive packages from the Australian Government endorsing its innovation and ensuring its continued effort.

George has been recognised as an Australian Entrepreneur who is focused on innovation and the future of entrepreneurialism in Australia and around the world.

Ms Sophia Demetriades Toftdahl, Finalist

Sophia Toftdahl CEO, Career Coach and Internship Coordinator, Dream Internship

Bachelor of Communication (Journalism), 2006

Originally from Norway, Sophia has made sustained and significant contributions towards community, both culturally and professionally.

Sophia has nurtured her networks throughout her career. She joined many business groups which supported entrepreneurship, referral networking as well as international trade and investment. Following a board position with entrepreneurial network The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), she founded the Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce (NACC) where she is currently the President.

The NACC is a member of the European Australian Business Council (EABC) and works to promote European Australian Trade and Investment initiatives. Through the EABC, Sophia has recently participated in discussions regarding a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Europe.

Sophia consulted to various education institutions internationally before founding her business in 2009. Demand in the internship and professional training space continued to grow, and her company, Dream Internship, has become an Australian marketplace for internships. It functions as a matchmaking platform for interns and host companies, assists in the management of ethical and effective internship programs and provides leadership and career development courses. Dream Internship received the most votes at the 2012 Sydney Business Awards for the Education and Training category.

As an alumna of Western Sydney University, Sophia volunteers to speak to other alumni and current students at University events such as the LEAD Conference and the GradLife Alumni Series.Dedication and hard work has helped Sophia build a positive image that inspires other international and local students to believe in themselves and go for what they really want in life. 'The most gratifying feeling for me is to hear my students say thank you, because only then do I feel as though I've made a positive impact in this world', Sophia says.

International Alumni of the Year

Dr Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Winner

Kamaludeen Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University

Doctor of Philosophy, 2011

Kamaludeen strives to make significant contributions to teaching and pedagogy, university service, service to the scholarly community and society at large. As an educator, he considers that his role is not limited to teaching but to preparing the student community to be valuable members of society and virtuous global citizens.

Within the scholarly community, Kamaludeen has carved out his niche in the sociology of religion, social stratification, sociology of youth, deviance and social theory. He endeavours to positively impact society at large through his academic work and through advisory and leadership roles. Kamaludeen has been invited to numerous universities to share his research, with many of these visits fully funded by the respective institutions in the US, Europe, Australia, Asia and the Middle East. The highlight of Kamaludeen's career so far was a concurrent appointment as Visiting Scholar at the CUNY and New York University (NYU) in 2013.

Kamaludeen received an Australian International Postgraduate Research Scholarship from the Australian Government to complete a PhD at Western Sydney University. While studying, he celebrated the publication of his second book,'Muslims in Singapore: Piety, Politics and Policies' (2010, Routledge), launched by Western Sydney University. One of Kamaludeen's most memorable moments was when he was invited to return to Western Sydney University in 2014 to deliver a public lecture and share his research findings.

Kamaludeen actively participates in sharing sessions with government bodies and provides expert advice to high-level government officials. In total he has authored five books, co-edited two others, published in some of the most recognised journals in his field and garnered significant citations for his academic work.

Dr Virgie Callo-Etis, Finalist

Virgie Callo-Etis Professor, University of Rizal System

Doctor of Philosophy, 1997 

On joining Rizal State College upon her return to the Philippines, the President expressed confidence in Virgie's qualification, creativity and leadership, designating her as the first Campus Director of a campus to be opened the following school year. A challenge for Virgie, and also a great achievement, was the negotiation of support from the Local Government of the Municipality of Rodriguez where the new campus was opened. Beginning with only two undergraduate programs in 1996, the campus now includes three colleges, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

In addition to her work as Professor in the College of Agriculture, Virgie has been active in the Faculty Association, and was elected President in 1998. This leadership has given her the opportunity to strongly support the proposed merging of the two higher education institutions (Rizal State College and Rizal Polytechnic College) into the new University of Rizal System. She was privileged to sit with the House of Representatives, Committee on Education on the first reading of the Bill creating the new university.

Virgie recalls her time at Western Sydney University as a truly multicultural encounter, studying with students from Asia, Africa and Europe. She attributes this experience and her continued connections with these diverse graduates from her time at Western Sydney University to developing and strengthening her interest in community development with an international perspective. In fact, it was this experience that motivated Virgie to undertake a voluntary placement in Kenya from 1999-2000 assisting the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction to implement training and assessment programs.

Mr Ryan Perera, Finalist

Ryan Perera Deputy CEO, Candor

Master of Business Administration, 2005

In 2004 Ryan was awarded the Gold Medal for best results in 'Financial Management' in the MBA Sri Lanka cohort. Today, Ryan enjoys a successful career as an international banker.

Ryan's achievements include 17+ years in private/ investment banking and mercantile industries, with a range of international concerns. He has revamped and restructured entire divisions across various Sri Lankan banks, interviewed and trained hundreds of staff and remained positive through more than 25 years of civil war in his country. After cutting his business teeth in the Hatton National's busy Colombo office, Ryan accepted an invitation to join the Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC in 2008. It is here that he took his MBA training and used it to great effect, as a key member of a senior management team that radically transformed the Pan Asia Bank between 2008 and 2013.

Ryan led the establishment of a Japanese business group in 2009, paving the way for the bank to attract significant Japanese investments and lucrative new market share. He made major contributions to the introduction of debit cards and chip based credit cards.

Ryan is a Fellow of the UK's Chartered Management Institute and a Member of its Association of Business Executives. He is an executive committee member of the Chartered Management Institute (UK) Sri Lanka Branch, and a past Rotarian of the Rotary Club of Colombo North. He is the 2015 Winner of Austrade's 'Merit Award for Business Leadership', which was presented at the Australian Alumni Excellence Awards last year.

In 2014, Ryan joined the multinational Candor Group of Companies, a globally diversified private investment firm, which has a core focus on the financial industry and its supporting sectors. He is now its Deputy CEO. His career trajectory is confidently predicted to trend ever upwards – an international alumnus to watch and a man who will take his principles and formidable people skills everywhere he goes.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Impact Alumni Award

Mr Jarred Hodges, Winner

Jarred Hodges Senior Project Officer, Student Recruitment, Western Sydney University

Bachelor of Health Science, 1998
Graduate Diploma of Education – Secondary, 1998
Master of Teaching – Secondary Education, 2004

Jarred is a descendant of the Kooma people from South Western Queensland, but was raised, studied and continues to live in Western Sydney. Jarred has volunteered with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (National Indigenous Rugby) for the last 20 years. In this time, Jarred has provided sport, education and employment opportunities for Indigenous youth from all over Australia. He is passionate about contributing to the empowerment and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities by using his professional skills and experience through sport and education.

Jarred was the first in his family to complete his HSC and was therefore also the first in his family to go to university. Jarred is a qualified coach, with his coaching roles taking him from NSW School Rugby to Specialist Coach with the QANTAS Wallabies. As a Personal Development, Health and Physical Education Teacher at Prairiewood High School,Jarred was the instigator of the before school fitness program, encouraging a change in the poor lifestyle habits of all students (Indigenous and non-Indigenous). He also encouraged the recognition and celebration of Aboriginal culture by organising an Aboriginal Cultural Day and NAIDOC week.

As a part of the Western Sydney University Fields of Dreams program, Jarred has collaborated with many schools throughout Western Sydney and rural NSW to coordinate and lead an engaging, inspiring and holistic program. The program currently engages 250 Indigenous students from 13 schools throughout Western Sydney and a further 70 students from 10 schools in Bathurst and Dubbo. Recent data from the Year 12 graduates participating in the program has shown 70% of participants have applied and are aspiring to transition from high school to university.

Mr Peter Shine, Finalist

Peter Shine Director of Aboriginal Health Aboriginal Health, Northern Sydney Local Health District

Graduate Diploma of Public Health, 2011
Master of Health Science (Health Promotion), 2012

Peter has two postgraduate Health qualifications from Western Sydney University, demonstrating his commitment to lifelong learning, passion for higher education and the mentoring of others. A proud Gomeroi man from Narrabri in Northern NSW, he is a member of the stolen generation. He has demonstrated outstanding commitment to his work and remarkable leadership to the Aboriginal people living and working in Sydney's north. Peter worked on the development of the first Aboriginal Health Plan for the area and an Aboriginal Health Clinic at Hornsby Hospital.

Peter has presented papers at National and International Aboriginal health conferences and is in demand for public speaking and teaching of university students. In 2015, Peter's team was awarded the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD ) Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Community Service Award for Diversity. He has also represented Aboriginal people at a national level at the Aboriginal Child and Adolescent MentalHealth and Wellbeing Summit in 2010. Peter is highly respected for the work he does and was awarded an Honorary Clinical Associate Professorship in 2015 at the Australian Catholic University for provision of culturally appropriate academic education.

Peter has contributed to textbooks including a chapter about Aboriginal death and dying in 'A Matter of Life and Death' edited by Rosalind Bradley. Peter has also contributed to improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through Women's Health Promotion Days. Since Peter has been in the role at NSLH, Aboriginal women attending cervical and breast screening has increased by 500%.

Peter found his university experience to be powerful and extraordinary, thanks to the role of mentors during his studies. He is always encouraging Aboriginal young people to take up education.

Mr William Wallace, Finalist

William Wallace Head of Junior School, Lakes Grammar Anglican School

Initially awarded a scholarship to study an undergraduate dual degree in accounting and law, William chose to study primary education, becoming the fourth generation of his family to do so.

William was elected to the NSW Teachers' Federation Executive Council 2002-2003 where he was instrumental in negotiating for the inclusion of paternity leave provisions in the award agreement, as well as attending and making a submission to the NSW Government Inquiry into Male Teacher Numbers in 2004. William was initially promoted to Stage Co-ordinator in 2003 and Assistant Principal in 2004. During this time, William led the Federal Government Boys' Education Lighthouse Cluster program across twelve primary and secondary schools in the Blacktown School District, administering a $100,000 budget and rolling out boys' education initiatives K-12.

During his time at Macarthur Anglican School, William founded and was the inaugural Chair of the HICES (Heads of Indepdent Co-Educational Schools)Middle School Heads group and has also been actively involved with the HICES Junior School Heads Group since 2007. William was appointed Head of Junior School at Lakes Grammar in 2013. William has also been appointed as Chair of the Hunter Region Independent Schools (HRIS) Primary Heads Group from 2016-2017 and served as secretary of this group in 2014-2015.

William is passionate about Indigenous education, arranging community service trips for students. He has been an active supporter of the Yalari Foundation which provides scholarships for Indigenous secondary students, promoting the charity to over 130 IPSHA Member Schools across NSW.

Community Champion Alumni Award

Ms Betty Green, Winner

Betty Green PhD candidate, Western Sydney University

Bachelor of Adult Education (Honours), 2009
Associate Diploma in Social Welfare, 1985

Betty has made a major and significant contribution over nearly three decades working to prevent violence against women. Her work has enriched and benefited the Western Sydney community and beyond and has had major impacts in Western Sydney, NSW, Australia and internationally in the areas of community development, education, policy, planning and programs.

She was the founding member of the Bankstown Domestic Violence Committee, and Chair of the Board of Management, Bankstown Women's Refuge and the Liverpool Women's Resource Centre. She also chaired the Liverpool Domestic Violence Legal Clinic DVLC where she increased membership. Betty is on the Australasian Council of Women and Policing and on the Board of Management, Women's Health NSW.

Years before domestic violence resurfaced as an issue of priority on the public and political agenda, Betty was at the forefront of domestic violence activism. In Bankstown, Betty trained local service providers for the first unfunded women's domestic violence court assistance program, set up the first domestic violence support group, lobbied state government to improve funding and services for women and children experiencing domestic violence, which led to the establishment of the Canterbury-Bankstown Integrated Domestic Violence Response Team, and was involved in the reference group guiding the establishment of this important project. She also developed and wrote the Building Respectful Relationships Train the Trainer Domestic Violence Support Group Program, which was translated into Arabic and Vietnamese.

Betty's work in domestic violence has moved beyond Western Sydney to the state and national level. In March 2006, Betty co-founded the NSW Domestic Violence Committee Coalition (DVCC) in order to get issues of domestic violence onto the policy agenda, which she saw as urgent in light of the increasing numbers of domestic homicides in New South Wales. Her efforts in raising awareness contributed to opening a national debate, and triggering subsequent political action, on domestic violence.

Dr James (Jim) Taggart OAM, Finalist

James Jim Taggart Managing Director, Taggart Consulting Pty Ltd

Master of Commerce (Financial Planning), 1998

Jim's journey, spanning the last 60 years, has tackled many social and economic challenges. Born in Ermington, predominately a housing commission area, he came from an extremely poor family and, after some unfortunate circumstances, much of their existence came from welfare. He left school before he was 15 and worked as a labourer in countless jobs. It was during this time that he met a number of important people who influenced him greatly, building the person he is today and driving him to help others.

He has since used his influence to help organisations achieve their social and economic objectives, this includes organisations such as the Salvation Army, Eagles Recreational and Peer Support RAPS, Marist Youth Care and various schools throughout Western Sydney. His involvement in the community has spanned some 30 years.

Jim's love for education at every level underpins everything that he does. He believes it is through education that we are able to grow and face the challenges we have to bear. Jim has had a strong and long-term involvement with schools, TAFE and universities. He is an active board member for many organisations. He endeavours to bring people together and share his social capital so that those who are directly and indirectly involved can help others. Jim believes that only by valuing and helping people grow can we really find happiness. This commitment is illustrated in particular by his involvement with disability and homeless organisations, domestic violence organisations and initiatives for young people.

During his time giving and helping organisations, Jim always found time to ensure his talents are passed on to his family through listening, correcting and advising them, a legacy he hopes to leave. He has always aimed not only to help the most vulnerable in our society but to be involved with organisations that hold excellence as a value in helping people grow.

Hawkesbury Alumni Award

Professor John Longworth, Winner

John Longworth  Agricultural Economics Researcher and Consultant, University of Queensland

Hawkesbury Diploma of Agriculture, 1960

Emeritus Professor Longworth's exceptional service in the field of agricultural economics has had positive flow on effects to Australian agribusiness and, through that, to the Australian economy and community in general.

John's impact on the discipline of agricultural economics has been significant, as is evidenced by the many peer-bestowed honours he has received. These include World President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists from 1985 to 1991, the Australian Institute of Agricultural Sciences Gold Medal for Research (1981) and the Farrer Memorial Medal (1991). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Additionally, he has served in senior academic administrative leadership roles including Dean of two faculties and Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Queensland. The University of Queensland conferred on him the title of Emeritus Professor on his resignation in 2002.

However, perhaps the greatest positive community impact he has achieved has been through his professional links with Asia, particularly China and Japan. These interactions occurred while he was employed at the University of Queensland and have continued since. The working relationships he has developed with influential people in universities and government ministries in both countries are invaluable and no doubt have been of benefit to our trade negotiators as they worked through the labyrinth of detail involved in establishing Free Trade Agreements. Indeed, Emeritus Professor Longworth personally participated in Free Trade Agreement talks in China in 2006 assisting the Australian wool industry and the Australian Government's negotiating team.

His period at Hawkesbury Agricultural College came at a pivotal time in the development of his academic and leadership skills. Emeritus Professor Longworth himself believes that the three years at Hawkesbury had, and continue to have, a fundamental impact on many aspects of his life.

Mr George Bennett, Finalist

George Bennett Retired

Hawkesbury Diploma in Dairying, 1948

George was born in 1925 in Muswellbrook. After three year of high school, he attended Hawkesbury Agriculture College (HAC) from 1942 until 1944. George served in the army until 1947 and then returned to HAC and received a Diploma in Dairying in 1948.

George made a major contribution to several organisations outside his normal employment activities and was renowned for his longevity of service in every case. He was arguably the most active supporter of the Hawkesbury College Old Boys Union. He served on the Executive for 21 years and was Secretary from 1974 to 1988 and was awarded Life Membership.

He was a member of the Standing Committee of the inaugural meeting of the Hawkesbury Assembly of Convocation in 1976. George was involved in refereeing Rugby Union games at all levels from 1971. For his outstanding service to Rugby Union in 2014 he was presented with the inaugural Chris Cuncliffe-Jones Sprit of Rugby Award.

George is a modest and unpretentious man, saying 'My various awards are humbling to receive – it's nice people appreciate what I have done but I would do it anyway'.

Mr Paul Druitt, Finalist

Paul Druitt Retired Principal-Director, Paul Druitt First National Pty Ltd

Hawkesbury Diploma Agriculture and Horticulture, 1952

Paul began his career as an agronomist after graduating from Hawkesbury Agricultural College but became a leader of the WA real estate industry, winning accolades for his ethical standards and respect for his enormous contributions to the community.

In 1957 he was appointed Deniliquin District Agronomist, providing advice for farmers and pastoralists on irrigation, pasture development and cropping methods in three sprawling shires. In 1961 Paul joined Wesfarmers in WA, encouraging them to invest in the fledgling Ord River Project and helping organise a major symposium to assist Kimberley pastoralists in their cattle station management and irrigation. He travelled to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries promoting the sale of pasture seed and worked with United Nations agronomists on experimental seed plots.

In 1972, Paul established the Paul Druitt Real Estate agency in Perth's CBD, using his broad knowledge of Australian and overseas agricultural practices to specialise in farm and pastoral holdings. Five years later, he initiated formation of the First National property group in WA. He was regional chair and on the national board of First National from 1983 to 1985. In 2000, his agency won the group's Best Practice award. Paul wanted best practice throughout WA's property sector and in 1973 became a member of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA). He laid the groundwork for programs that have since improved the stature of WA's real estate industry, including regulations for competency standards and accreditation.

Paul has enriched WA's real estate industry by improving its professional and ethical standards, as well at its reputation both locally and overseas, and committed himself to community interests such as Rotary and WA Sportspeople. Now aged 83, he still volunteers his time to a retiree social club and helps WA's real estate industry to archive its history.

Dr Deborah Hatcher, Finalist

Deborah Hatcher Acting Deputy Dean of Nursing & Midwifery, Western Sydney University

Doctor of Philosophy, 2011
Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing), 1991

Deborah was a member of a group of student nurses from Concord and Blacktown hospitals who came to Hawkesbury to undertake part of their hospital-based program on campus in 1982.

Deborah completed her nursing registration and proudly wore her Concord badge which included the Hawkesbury crest. Not only were these nurses part of a new beginning but they were telling the community that they were proud to be a part of Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC).

She very quickly became involved in the corporate and academic life at HAC and was actively involved in the establishment of the childcare centre, taking on the role of President from 1996 to 1998. Deborah's entrepreneurial skills were well demonstrated at the numerous open days she attended to recruit students. Deborah graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) degree in 1991 and was then appointed to the position of Lecturer.

Deborah has an outstanding record in the area of international affairs. She has taken responsibility for the ongoing development of the offshore courses at the Hong Kong Baptist University and she has provided leadership to teaching staff in both onshore and offshore courses whilst maintaining good communication between Western Sydney University and our offshore partners. Deborah plays an active role in interviews for student recruitment in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Deborah is now acting Deputy Dean of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. In 2015 she was invited to be a member of a panel at the Hawkesbury Alumni Lunch at Parliament House.

Former Staff Excellence Award

Dr Patsy (Rae) Luckie, Winner

Rae Luckie

Luckie Consulting Services and Lecturer at University of Wollongong

Doctor of Philosophy, 2006
Master of Arts - Communication and Cultural Studies, 1993
Bachelor of Arts – Applied Communication Studies, 1991

As well as obtaining three degrees from Western Sydney University, Rae was a staff member at the University from 1981 to 2003 in a range of capacities. Her passions are education, lifelong learning and the preservation of life stories for posterity. She has given over 40 years of service (administration and teaching) in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

A late achiever, her first tertiary study began at the age of 46 while on the staff at Nepean CAE as secretary to the Dean of Visual and Performing Arts. She became a qualified teacher of adult education at the age of 51. Rae continued her studies at Western Sydney University over a twenty-year period, graduating with a PhD in Auto/biographical Writing and Literary Theory in 2006.

During her career, she established the Nepean Alumni Association and also launched the Graduate Diploma in Education at the University of Wollongong Batemans Bay campus, providing opportunities for mature age students to realise their dreams of becoming a teacher. After working for seven years in the TAFE sector, Rae established Luckie Consulting Services and conducted life writing workshops and community writing programs in metropolitan and rural and remote areas of NSW (including Broken Hill, Menindee Condobolin and Moree), while teaching part-time at Western Sydney University and the University of Wollongong. As a result, she edited a number of anthologies, recording personal and social histories which are preserved in local, state and national libraries.

Rae is a published author with works in anthologies in Australia and the United States including Best Australian Stories 2004. She has also presented papers on life-writing at national and international conferences. Rae is a mentor for the Australian Society of Authors and has mentored many writers who went on to publish.

The Alumni Awards program was established to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of our graduates.

As the University looks to the future, we aim to continue to build upon a dynamic and innovative culture that secures success. Alumni are an important part of the next stage of our development as a vibrant university with regional, national and international impact.

The Awards are open to all graduates of Western Sydney University and its antecedent institutions. Up to three Finalists for each award will be invited to attend a presentation event on campus following the close of nominations, and one Winner for each award will be announced on the night.