University of Melbourne Magazine

Alumni milestones

  • AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS

    Five alumni received the nation’s highest civilian award – the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) – in the 2017 Australia Day Honours.

    Honoured were former prime minister Julia Gillard (LLB 1986, BA 1989), current Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau (LLB(Hons) 1973), former federal minister Dr David Kemp (BA(Hons) 1965, LLB 1966), chemist Emeritus Professor Andrew Holmes (BSc 1965, MSc 1967) and ophthalmologist Professor Keryn Williams (BSc(Hons) 1970, PhD 1975).

    In all, more than 75 Melbourne alumni and staff received awards in the first of two honours lists released in 2017.

    APPOINTMENTS

    Eminent constitutional lawyer Dr Stephen Donaghue QC (BA 1995, LLB(Hons) 1995) has been appointed Australia’s 12th Solicitor-General. His appointment is for a tenure of ­five years. Prior to joining the bar, Dr Donaghue served as an associate to High Court judge Kenneth Hayne AC QC for a year.

    Ross Williamson (BSc(Hons) 1983) took over as director of Healesville Sanctuary in January 2017. He was previously Zoos Victoria’s General Manager of Threatened Species. The appointment caps a 30-year career in wildlife conservation.

    Ross Williamson

    Ross Williamson

    Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert (MUP 1993) was appointed to the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in 2016. She was previously a Member of the Legislative Council (2009‑10) and director of the Emergency Services and State Superannuation Board (2006-09).

    Richard Larkins (MB BS 1966, MD 1972, LLD 2004) replaced Professor Adrienne Clarke as Chancellor of La Trobe University in February 2017. It is the latest in a long series of senior university appointments for Professor Larkins, who was previously the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University (2003‑09).

    Richard Larkins

    Richard Larkins

    Luci Ellis (BCom(Hons) 1990) became the ­first woman appointed Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Her November 2016 appointment is a good omen – she holds a position previously held by the last three Reserve Bank Governors. Ellis (right), a housing expert, has been with the RBA since 2008. She regularly represents Australia’s central bank at parliamentary inquiries.

    The University of New South Wales appointed Professor Emma Johnston (BSc(Hons) 1997, PhD 2001) Dean of Science in November 2016. Johnston, previously the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor made headlines earlier in 2016 after she discovered a species of f­latworm that had both male and female reproductive properties.

    Jay Savage (BA(Media&Comm) 2005) has been appointed Australia editor for BBC.com. Previously a journalist with the Herald Sun, Savage is responsible for shaping editorial direction on the BBC’s dedicated Australian news service.

    Jennifer Gidley

    Jennifer Gidley

    Jennifer Gidley (BA 1972) will step down this year as President of World Futures Studies Federation, a UNESCO and UN‑ECOSOC partner organisation, charged with bringing together academics, researchers, practitioners and students to examine innovation and ideas that will help resolve future problems.

    AWARDS

    Bede Jones (BA(Hons) 2015) became the ­first Indigenous Tasmanian and second Indigenous Australian to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Jones received the 2017 Tasmanian award, while fellow Melbourne graduate Rebecca Duke (BA(Hons) 2016, DipL 2016) received the Victorian award. The scholarship covers postgraduate study costs at Oxford University.

    Jenny McGregor (BA(Hons) 1974, GDipEd 1981) was selected as a BOSS True Leader 2016 by The Australian Financial Review. The Asialink founder was honoured for her institution’s role in furthering Asian-Australian relations over the past 25 years. Other University representatives in the BOSS True Leader awards were former federal minister Andrew Robb AO (DipAgrSc 1971), Professor Ian Frazer AC (MD 1988), Professor Brendan Crabb AC (BSc(Hons) 1988, PhD 1992), Professor Douglas Hilton AO (BSc(Hons) 1986, PhD 1990) and Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis AC.

    Randa Abdel-Fattah

    Randa Abdel-Fattah

    A modern take on Romeo and Juliet resulted in Randa Abdel-Fattah (BA 2001, LLB(Hons) 2001) receiving the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. When Michael Met Mina is the story of the son of anti-immigration campaigners who falls in love with an Afghan refugee. Abdel-Fattah is a former litigation lawyer who ran for Federal Parliament in 1998, aged 19.

    Tony Birch (BA(Hons) 1991, MA(CrWrtg) 2000, PhD 2003) took out the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous writing for his novel, Ghost River, a coming-of-age story set in Fitzroy in the summer of 1968.

    Dr Eva de Jong-Duldig (GDipPhysical Ed 1957, BA 1971) won the Historical Interpretation Award as part of the 2016 Victorian Community History Awards. Dr de Jong-Duldig created with Dr David Smith (BSc 1971, PhD 1976) a documentary about her father titled Duldig Studio Documentaries: Volume 1. Her father, Karl Duldig, was a renowned Jewish sculptor who ­led to Australia following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.

    Urban planner Professor Alan March (PhD 2004) received the Planner of the Year Award at the 2016 Planning Institute of Australia – Victoria Awards. Dr March worked with many industry partners to better recognise bushf­ire vulnerability, disaster risks and resilience in regional Victoria.

    ARTS, BOOKS & ENTERTAINMENT

    The maiden feature film by Melbourne writer-director Ruth Borgobello (BCom(Hons) 1999, GDipFTV 2002), The Space Between, opened the 2016 Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Borgobello’s semi-autobiographical movie traced the opening days of her relationship with her future husband. It is the ­first f­ilm to be officially co-produced under an Australian-Italian cultural treaty signed in 1996.

    Ruth Borgobello

    Ruth Borgobello

    For the ­first time, an all-Australian cast performed on New York City’s famed Broadway in January 2017. Cate Blanchett and Christopher Ryan (BMusPerf 2001, BDramArt 2005) starred in Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Platonov, which was produced under the stage name of The Present.

    A novel by Cher Chidzey (MSc 1985, GDipEd 1987), Ken’s Quest, published in November 2016, tells the story of a Chinese migrant’s turbulent journey to Australia.

    In a research breakthrough, music therapist Professor Felicity Baker (BMus(Hons) 1992, MMus(MusThrpy) 1999) was able to demonstrate that dementia sufferers can still be capable of learning. Professor Baker, whose University-led pilot program centred on the role of song writing, helped patients at the Caladenia Dementia Care Centre in Mooroolbark write, record and remember lyrics from new compositions.

    It’s been a startling rise for novelist Anna Snoekstra (BA 2009), whose debut novel Only Daughter is being turned into a Hollywood screenplay by Universal Pictures/ Working Title. The psychological thriller centres on an imposter who claims to be a missing teenager. The film adaptation will be called The New Winter.

    Anna Snoekstra

    Anna Snoekstra

    VCA graduate Hannah Fredericksen (BMusThtr 2012) played 1950s teen idol Sandra Dee in Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical, which premiered at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in 2016. Fredericksen had previously played singer Olivia Newton-John in Channel 7’s miniseries Molly.

    Famed fashion designer Alexander McQueen found a kindred spirit in Sarah Harmarnee (BFineArt 1992), who worked with the iconic British designer for several years until 2001. Harmarnee’s designs are now featured in Alexander McQueen: Unseen (Yale University Press). The book’s release coincides with Harmarnee’s shift to photography, with her portfolio focusing on horses, specifically in the Tuscan countryside.

    Sarah Harmanee

    Sarah Harmanee

    In a surprising career shift, physicist Justin Matthys (BSc 2008, MSc 2010, PGDipTeach 2012) went from helping to discover the fabled Higgs boson particle to founding a teaching model tipped to revolutionise maths in schools. Maths Pathways is the venture Matthys founded with Teach for Australia recruit Richard Wilson. It is an online maths problem-solving program used in more than 110 schools across Australia.

    Former AFL premiership player Peter Bell (LLB 2002) embraced a career change in October 2016, when he began as a breakfast radio presenter on ABC Perth. Bell previously worked as a lawyer.

    Sister Joan Healy (GDipArts 1972, BA(Hons) 1974) tells the story of six families who fled the aftermath of the Cambodian killing fields in Writing for Raksmey. They were held in a crowded refugee camp at the border of their country and then sent back to a nation still at war.

    Patrick Brammall (BDramArt 2001) has become one of Australia’s most sought-after actors. Recent credits include No Activity, O­ffspring and Upper Middle Bogan. The latter won Best Television Comedy at the 2017 Australia Film Institute Awards. Brammall has also appeared in the US spin-off of Upper Middle Bogan, titled Furst Born.

    Patrick Brammall

    Patrick Brammall

    Dena Kahan (BA(Hons) 1982, BFineArt 1992), a former art conservation expert at the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, worked on a series of paintings based on the botanical models in the University of Melbourne Herbarium. Her exhibition took place in March 2017.

    Cynthia Lee (BCom 2009, BIS 2009) was selected as the Young ICT Professional of the Year (Female under 30) at the Australian Computer Society’s Digital Disruptors Awards 2016. Financial services and accountancy firm Deloitte gave Lee her breakthrough in 2010, when she was invited to join the graduate program.

    Cynthia Lee

    Cynthia Lee

    Nadia Tass (GDipTeach(Sec) 1975, BEd(Sec) 1980) directed an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at St Kilda’s Red Stitch Theatre in 2016. Tass is best renowned for her work in Australian cinema, with directing credits including Malcolm (1986) and The Big Steal (1990).

    Garden designer Michael McCoy (BSc 1984) has worked for many high-profile clients. Now the Woodend-based botanist has made his mark on TV, hosting an eight-program series on the ABC. Dream Gardens, which went to air in February, looked at striking garden designs across Australia.

    A TASTE FOR SPORTING GOLD

    Dylan Alcott

    Dylan Alcott

    Dylan Alcott (BCom 2016) won two gold medals in tennis at the Rio Paralympic Games, then followed up by winning his third successive quad wheelchair Australian Open tennis title. Alcott previously represented Australia in wheelchair basketball – a sport in which he also won Paralympic Gold.