Distinguished guest speakers address new graduands

A highlight of each graduation ceremony is the Occasional Address. In December, Western Sydney University graduands and their guests will have the opportunity to hear from a range of distinguished guest speakers.

Ceremony 1 - 9.30am, Wednesday 13 December

CEO, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
Michael Brydon

Dr Michael Brydon is currently the Chief Executive of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), a position he was permanently appointed to in July 2016. Prior to this he was the Director of Clinical Operations at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.

Before the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network was formed, Dr Brydon worked at Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick for 27 years after completing his undergraduate medical degree at the University of New South Wales and his Fellowship of Paediatrics in the Randwick program. His other postgraduate qualifications include a Master of Paediatrics and a Master of Health Administration from UNSW.

In the last two decades, Dr Brydon has held an increasingly more senior management portfolio across a local, state and national agenda. As a result of these roles, he has established a wide network of personal partnerships, predominantly in the child health environment, and gained significant expertise in clinical management and medical administration.

Dr Brydon was, until very recently, clinically active as a general paediatrician, enjoying a mix of clinical and administrative challenges. Ever since entering paediatrics, he has advocated for children and their families, highlighting the differences in their needs and ensuring a fair allocation of resources to paediatrics.

Ceremony 2 - 12.00pm, Wednesday 13 December

Actor and Producer
Bryan Brown

Bryan Neathway Brown AM is an iconic Australian film and television actor who grew up in the South-Western Sydney suburb of Panania. He began his career as an actuarial student with AMP before becoming a salesman with the company. While at AMP, he joined the company’s drama club and it was there that Bryan discovered his passion for the performing arts – a passion that led him to become a member of the Genesian Theatre in Sydney.

At the age of 25, Bryan resigned from AMP, sold his car and travelled to Great Britain in pursuit of a career as an actor. While in London, he secured a year-long contract with the National Theatre of Great Britain at the iconic ‘Old Vic’ theatre.

Returning to Australia in 1974, Bryan immediately went on tour with the Queensland Theatre Company for their production of The Rainmaker.

Just before his 30th birthday, Bryan landed his first film role, Love Letters from Teralba Road. His performance in the role led to 15 films in the next three years. Today, he has performed in more than 80 film and television roles since the late 1970s.

In 1980, Bryan achieved critical acclaim for his performance in Breaker Morant. He was awarded the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for this performance, an award he received again in 1999 for his role as local crime lord Pando in the Australian Film Two Hands. Bryan has also starred in a number of Australian films, including Australia, Red Dog – True Blue, and Australia Day, and has had international success in films such as Tai-Pan with Joan Chen, Cocktail alongside Tom Cruise, Gorillas in the Mist with Sigourney Weaver and Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.

In addition to his film achievements, Bryan’s successes extend to TV mini-series, including Against the Wind, A Town like Alice, The Thorn Birds and The Shiralee. Most notably, Bryan received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Luke O’Neill in The Thorn Birds, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Also a successful producer, Bryan started the television production company New Town Films in 1983 with a simple philosophy ‘if you own it, they can’t tell you that you can’t be in it’. New Town Films has delivered a number of Australian productions including Dirty Deeds starring Toni Collette and Sam Neill, Twisted Tales and Beautiful Kate, written and directed by his wife Rachel Ward.

In 1989, Bryan was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame, an award bestowed upon individuals to recognise their outstanding contribution to, and achievements in, the Australian television industry.

Bryan is also a strong supporter of many community organisations, including the Hope for Children Foundation, World Vision and the YMCA. In 2005, Bryan was made a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘service to the community through a range of charitable organisations committed to providing assistance and support to families and young people and to the Australian film and television industry’.

Bryan is immensely proud of his upbringing in the Western Sydney area of Bankstown. For many years he has supported and nurtured the arts in the region, giving back to the community as patron of the Bryan Brown Theatre in Bankstown. Since 2013, he has also been the patron of the Lebanese Film Festival, the opening night of which has been held at the Bryan Brown Theatre since 2014. Last year Bryan became the ambassador of WestWords, an incubator of emerging writing talent, established in 2007 by author Libby Gleeson and a group of fellow writers. He is also a regular supporter of the Bankstown Poetry slam, a not-for-profit community collective that was founded in 2013 by Western Sydney University students Ahmad Al Rady and Sara Mansour. The Bankstown Poetry slam has gained national recognition as the largest regular slam in Australia.

Ceremony 3 - 2.30pm, Wednesday 13 December

NSW Senior Public Defender
Mark Ierace SC

A barrister for 36 years and Senior Counsel since 1999, Mark Ierace specialises in criminal law. He is a member of the New South Wales Sentencing Council and has been the Senior Public Defender for New South Wales since 2007.

As both a prosecutor and defence counsel, Mark has practiced as a private barrister, in-house counsel for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, counsel assisting the New South Wales Police Integrity Commission, and as a Public Defender.

He has also practised as an international criminal lawyer in the UN International Criminal Tribunal on behalf of the former Yugoslavia, leading the team that prosecuted the commander of the Bosnian Serb forces who perpetrated the siege of Sarajevo.

Mark has a Master of International Law from Sydney University, and from 2009 to 2012, was a Senior Visiting Fellow and Lecturer in International Criminal Law at the University of New South Wales.

Mark is a prolific contributor of articles and papers focussing on criminal law. He is also the author of Intellectual Disability: A Manual for Criminal Lawyers (1989) and co-authored the second edition of Drug Laws in New South Wales, published in 1998.

Ceremony 4 - 9.30am, Thursday 14 December

Operational Nurse Manager, Campbelltown Hospital
Scott Metcalfe

Scott Metcalfe began his nursing career as a student of Western Sydney University. After graduating in 1998, Scott began work at Auburn Hospital, where he remained for eight years – first as a Registered Nurse and then as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Emergency Department. He then moved on to the Counter Disaster Unit within Western Sydney Area Health Service, where he held the role of Pandemic Officer. A highlight of this position was writing the Influenza Pandemic Plan together with NSW Health.

Scott moved back to clinical nursing in 2007, working at Liverpool Hospital’s Emergency Department as a Clinical Nursing Unit Manager and Clinical Nurse Educator, with an interest in trauma. While at Liverpool Hospital he decided to pursue a management pathway, beginning as a Patient Flow Manager, then as the After Hours Hospital Manager. As a reflection of his work in this area, Scott received the Liverpool Hospital General Manager’s Award in 2012.

Since 2016, Scott has been the Operational Nurse Manager for Campbelltown Hospital, a role which oversees all facets of the day-to-day functioning of the facility.

This year he was awarded the Campbelltown and Camden Hospital’s Leader of the Year award.

Ceremony 5 - 12.00pm, Thursday 14 December

Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet, London
Steven McRae

Steven McRae is a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet in London, one of the world’s leading dancers, and a frequent guest artist with major companies world-wide, including the American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the Australian Ballet and the Tokyo Ballet. The Guardian has described Steven as "a modern-day Fred Astaire", famous for the speed of his turns, his agility and his red hair.

Steven was born in Plumpton in Western Sydney. He grew up dreaming of being a drag racer like his dad, an auto electrician with a passion for motorsports. He went to Rooty Hill Primary School and began dancing at the age of seven after becoming interested in his older sister’s dance classes. He studied both tap and classical ballet, and, at the age of 14, appeared in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, dancing a fragment from Tap Dogs. Although tapping with hundreds of other young dancers, he was picked out by Director Dean Perry and sent to join the New York performances of Perry's famous Tap Dogs, a group of tap-dancing men in work boots.

In 2002, at the age of 16, Steven won the Genée International Ballet Competition in Sydney. The following year, he went on to win the prestigious ballet competition, the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, earning him a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London.

In 2004, Steven graduated into The Royal Ballet before being promoted to First Artist in 2005, Soloist in 2006, First Soloist in 2008, and Principal in 2009. He went from being a student in Sydney to Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet in just six years.

Steven’s performances include leading roles in major classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere as well as the Royal Ballet’s iconic modern day classics of Romeo & Juliet, Manon, Mayerling and La Fille mal Gardee, choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Sir Frederick Ashton. Steven has also had the honour of dancing for the British and Danish Royal Families numerous times, both at the Royal Opera House and at Buckingham Palace.

Steven has worked with choreographers ranging from Twyla Tharp, Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Liam Scarlett, William Forsythe and Alexei Ratmansky in diverse and varied roles, ranging from the tap dancing Mad Hatter in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to the Creature in Liam Scarlett’s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and to the extreme virtuosity and athleticism of new works by Twyla Tharp.

In January 2008, at 22, Steven partially tore his Achilles tendon and was told that not only would he never dance again but that he would have an enduring limp. With determination, Steven enrolled in a Bachelor of Honours in Business Management and Leadership at London’s Open University. He completed his degree while in rehabilitation, enabling him to maintain his involvement in his profession while gaining and developing additional knowledge and skills.

In 2014, Steven published Steven McRae: Dancer in the Fast Lane, which documented 12 months of his career as he rehearsed and performed at the Royal Opera House. The book features more than 70 colour images by photographer and dancer Andrej Uspenski. He has also worked with Japanese manga artist Takafumi Adachi on the Ballet Hero Fantasy strip, which appears in a Japanese ballet magazine and stars Steven as a leotard-clad cartoon.

Steven has received a number of prestigious awards and honours, including the previously mentioned Gold Medal for the Genée International Ballet Competition and the Prix de Lausanne, as well as the Emerging Male Artist (Classical) in 2006, the Best Male Dancer Awards at the Critics’ Circle Dance Awards in 2012, and the Young Australian Achiever in the UK by the Australia Day Foundation in 2014. In 2016, Steven became the Ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance’s Genée International Ballet Competition, the same contest he won when he was 16.

Steven and his wife have been guardians to a number of young Australian students studying at the Royal Ballet School.

Ceremony 6 - 2.30pm, Thursday 14 December

Author and Researcher, Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University
David Rowe

Professor David Rowe is a major global figure in the sociology of sport, cultural studies, and global studies. His work on sport, national culture, media representation and globalisation has had a profound impact on scholarly thinking, both in Australia and internationally.

Professor Rowe joined Western Sydney University in 2006, and for three years was Director of the Centre for Cultural Research, what is now the Institute for Culture and Society. Prior to this, he was Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Director of the Cultural Institutions and Practices Research Centre at The University of Newcastle.

Professor Rowe’s contribution to the field of sociology of sport began over 31 years ago. Of particular significance is his co-edited text Power Play: Essays in the Sociology of Australian Sport, which has been described as a ‘springboard for future research in Australia, and for comparative cultural and leisure studies elsewhere’. Power Play opened up the field of sport and leisure studies in Australia by challenging conservative nationalist mythologies that used sport as simple confirmations of being “Australian”.

Professor Rowe was among the first scholars to engage critically and skeptically with globalisation theory, authoring a series of books with international impact, including Popular Cultures: Rock Music, Sport and the Politics of Pleasure. Following these publications came Professor Rowe’s best-known book Sport, Culture and the Media: The Unruly Trinity, which has 919 Google Scholar citations.

Professor Rowe’s research on the socio-cultural dimensions of media and sport has aligned with his wider work on the politics of culture. He has researched and published in a series of allied areas with the support of 10 Australian Research Council grants and a range of other external and internal research funding sources.

Professor Rowe has also been engaged in numerous research consultancies, applying his interdisciplinary expertise in social, cultural and media studies to a range of projects for public and private organisations, helping to inform relevant policies as well as feeding into new research and publications. He is regularly invited to present at research conferences and symposia and has delivered keynote and senior scholar presentations at many major international research events. Most recently has returned from Singapore where he presented at the Golden Games: Sport and Diplomacy in East Asia and Beyond conference.

Professor Rowe is also regularly invited to present research papers at Australian and overseas universities and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at several universities. These invitations have been stimulated by his extensive peer-reviewed publications.

To date, apart from his 13 books, Professor Rowe has given more than 200 academic presentations in Australia and overseas. He has published 119 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals and 102 book chapters for many of the most significant international publishers in his research field.

Professor Rowe has also made a significant contribution to Higher Degree Research and Professional Services. He has supervised 20 successful Doctoral candidates, one research Masters (international) candidate and has made several presentations to students on behalf of the Western Sydney University Graduate Research School, primarily in the area of media sensitisation and training for graduate students.

Professor Rowe is a member of several professional associations, including the International Association for Media and Communication Research, and is a foundation associate editor of Communication and Sport. He recently completed a three-year term on the editorial team of the Journal of Sociology. He is on the editorial advisory boards of many journals and is an Associate Board Member of the leading journal Sociology (UK).

Professor Rowe is a grant assessor for Research Councils in Austria, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Qatar, for the Olympic Studies Centre of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland, and Velux Fonden (Denmark).

Professor Rowe has been an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom since 2014, and is a Fellow of a number of organisations including the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Western Sydney University Excellence in Research (Researcher of the Year) Award.