Page 1






CONTENTS Features 6 A Chancellor’s Journey 9 Tales of Olympic Glory 14 Travelling Alums

Regulars 3 4 32 33




From the Vice-Chancellor Campus News Network News Alumni in Print

* Front Cover: Alum Benn Harradine at work, for full story see page 10

EDITORIAL TEAM EDITOR Rosemary Thomson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Victoria Jack Taegan Reid Rosemary Thomson David Young

From My Desk to Yours

PRODUCTION Ennia Nyabadza-Jones Taegan Reid From 2012 the Alumni Magazine will be published twice a year for Alumni and Friends of the University of Newcastle. It is produced by the University of Newcastle Office Of External Relations.

The future of our University is inextricably linked with those of our surrounding communities. As we look to promote and build collaborations, alliances, partnerships and other forms of cooperative interaction, we create an environment where true innovation can occur. The synergies which emerge through this kind of activity can harness the strength of each partner - where complex issues and problems can be addressed, and where each of the partners benefits from the exchange. “No single actor, public or private, has the all-encompassing knowledge, overview, information or resources to solve complex and diversified problems.” The Copenhagen Center You will read in this edition, some of the aspirations of the Vice-Chancellor for engagement and innovation and I hope that as an alumni community you will be inspired about the possibilities in our shared future. We also farewell an outstanding Chancellor Diana might have been the ‘people’s princess’,

SUBSCRIPTIONS If you wish to be added to the subscription list for either a hardcopy or electronic magazine, please contact WRITE TO US Send your comments or contributions to

but Professor Trevor Waring AM has certainly been the ‘graduates Chancellor’. I thank him for the many alumni events he has attended and for his genuine interest in our alumni over his many years as Chancellor. I know that many of you count him as a friend and if you wish to send him a message you can do so through this office. It will be a pleasure to introduce you to our new Chancellor, Dr Ken Moss AM who is looking forward to meeting you all. As the London Olympics fast approach, this edition also looks at some of our graduates connected to Olympic competitions over the years. I wish our 2012 alumni competitors well, and I am sure along with support for your own country participants, you will join me in wishing every success to your fellow alumni who will be competing this year. I also draw your attention to a 25% discount for further study (page 30). Rosemary Thomson Associate Director, External Relations Leading University Alumni and Corporate Relations



Over the past seven months since starting as the Vice-Chancellor, I have had the pleasure of discussing the future of our University with many alumni in Australia and overseas. What has impressed me greatly is the enduring connection you hold to the University, your pride in the institution’s achievements and your aspirations for a strong future. The University shares those aspirations, and we are building the foundations to meet the challenges ahead for our University. Nationally and internationally, the higher education sector is transforming rapidly. Changes to policy and regulatory environments, growing competition for staff and students, the role of new technologies in research and teaching – to name a few – are reshaping the way universities plan for the future. The higher education landscape will be very different by the time the University turns 60 in 2025. The challenge we face is to build our foundations in education and research as a world class university and establish a strong global leadership role. To meet the challenge, the University has embarked on an ambitious ‘NeW Directions’ planning process in 2012. Through NeW Directions, we aim to define a vision of what we aspire to be by 2025. I am encouraging everyone in our University community to contribute their ideas to develop the vision of what we aspire to be by 2025. The current draft 2025 Vision is a ‘two-parter’, which reflects our global and regional outlook: • The University of Newcastle aspires to be a global leader in all of its spheres of achievement. • Through engagement with partners, the University will deliver world class innovation to support the development of strong regional communities. A clear vision shapes goals, priorities and strategies. In 2012, we will develop our lead priorities in education and research for 2013 - 2015 in the first of a rolling set of biennial strategic plans. These priorities will inform the nature of our future workforce, the layout of our

campuses and facilities, and the investment required in our systems and processes to achieve the 2025 Vision. I encourage you to read more about NeW Directions by visiting our website at I have already received excellent input from our alumni on the 2025 Vision and NeW Directions. Please continue to email your thoughts and comments either to me directly or through A significant development since my last column has been a ‘changing of the guard’ in Chancellors for the University. The Chancellor is chair of the governing body of the University, the University Council, and plays a critical role representing Council and the institution to external bodies and the community. Newcastle alumnus, Dr Ken Moss AM, commenced as the University’s 6th Chancellor in May. Dr Moss holds an expansive professional background, strong business acumen and a long connection with the University that will be of enormous value in his role as Chancellor. Professor Trevor Waring AM was Chancellor for eight years providing leadership, commitment and passion for the University during a remarkable period of service. He will be greatly missed by University Council, staff, students and alumni. I look forward to meeting more alumni over the coming months, sharing with you developments at the University, and hearing your thoughts and ideas on key issues that are important to our future. Please keep in touch. Best wishes Professor Caroline McMillen Vice-Chancellor and President


CAMPUS NEWS MESSAGE FROM THE PRO VICE-CHANCELLOR EXTERNAL RELATIONS Our Vice-Chancellor has set a strong and innovative mission for the University to engage with its various communities, both in Australia and abroad. Recently the Vice-Chancellor opened a workshop between the University of Newcastle and Coal & Allied which explored the ways the University can bring a multidisciplinary approach to areas of mutual interest. This model can be replicated for future university-industry research partnerships.

Professor Stephen Crump Pro Vice-Chancellor External Relations

As the University engages with business, industry, government, not-for-profit and community based groups it is pleasing to see links developing across these sectors with so many of our alumni. The possibilities are wide ranging, and we hope to see more of our alumni mentoring both students nearing graduation and recent graduates, taking students on engaged learning experiences at their workplaces, or hosting them for an international engagement experience and so on. Such experiences are

mutually beneficial and many professional links and lifelong friendships are formed. Academic research into community engagement is an emerging discipline, and an element of this is research and practice occurring around ‘Enhanced Service Learning’. In March, we welcomed to the Callaghan campus a visiting scholar from Texas State University Trae Stewart. Stewart is an Associate Professor of Education and Community Leadership, and a Co-Director of the International Centre for Educational Leadership and Social Change. Service Learning plays an increasing role in Australian educational settings, as well as being an integral part of the University of Newcastle’s community engagement mission. This initiative brought together professional and academic staff to explore current practice. As we look to develop this space, we will also be pleased to welcome the involvement of our alumni. I look forward to seeing you at an alumni event throughout the year.

NEW ACCOMMODATION AT CALLAGHAN Construction is set to begin next month at Callaghan Campus on a dynamic, state-of-the-art accommodation precinct, which will offer a clever mix of private and shared spaces including a cafe, recreation spaces, group study areas, a games room, a movie theatre, a vegetable garden and common areas for dining and live music. Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Services), Mr Trevor Gerdsen, said that aim of the development is to provide an affordable, vibrant and contemporary accommodation precinct that will support students to thrive in their studies and community life. The modern development comprising of four eight storey towers will offer 780 additional beds, available to students from 2014.

RADIOTHERAPY TREATMENT INNOVATION AT UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE In an Australian first, a virtual radiotherapy treatment room will be used to train student radiation therapists in the safe and effective delivery of high doses of radiation to affected cancer sites in the body. The School of Health Sciences at the University of Newcastle will be home to the nation’s first virtual linear accelerator machine, which mimics the clinical radiation treatment technology currently used to treat cancer patients in Australian radiation oncology centres. The creation of this virtual training facility will allow the University to lead the way in addressing the chronic shortage of radiation therapists in Australia. This is great news for the 50% of cancer patients requiring radiation treatment.




School of Nursing and Midwifery graduate Kazuma Honda - a Registered Nurse at the Royal North Shore Hospital Intensive Therapy Unit - and Alix Hall, a psychology graduate currently undertaking a PhD in Behavioural Science in relation to Medicine - have been awarded the 2012 Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Outgoing Endeavour Award. The Endeavour Awards are prestigious Australian Government scholarships that provide research and professional development opportunities for the best and brightest scholars from Australia and Asia. Kazuma aims to commence his research in Japan in 2012 and will explore the factors that influence non-English speaking nursing students’ sense of belonging in clinical placements.

NEWCASTLE PROFESSOR ELECTED TO TOP NEUROSCIENCE POST The University of Newcastle’s Professor John Rostas has formally started his role as President of the Australian Neuroscience Society. The Australian Neuroscience Society – is a not-for-profit organisation of scientists who study the brain and nervous system. Professor Rostas is Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the University’s Faculty of Health; he was the inaugural Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute and is an internationally-recognised authority in the area of ‘synaptic plasticity’ – modifications of the connections between nerve cells responsible for wiring the nervous system. “As President, it is my job to lead the organisation’s activities promoting neuroscience across Australia and New Zealand and to help our members promote their work to the community,” he said.

Philip Matthias, academic and conductor of the award winning University of Newcastle Chamber Choir married Bernadette Lannen to the sounds of the choir in April.

UNIVERSITY PRESENTS AWARD TO GOVERNOR GENERAL The Governor General of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO joined a list of distinguished and admirable Australians when the University presented her with its award for Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Community, on 13 February 2012 at Admiralty House in Sydney. Previous recipients of the award include former Governor General Sir William Deane, former Lady Mayoress of Newcastle Margaret McNaughton, World Vision Australia CEO Dr Tim Costello AO, and child protection academic Professor Dorothy Scott. The Family Action Centre, a part of the Faculty of Health at the University of Newcastle, established the award in 1998 to recognise the work of Australians who make meaningful contributions to the community at all levels. Centre Director Judi Geggie said the Governor General was selected to receive the award because of her significant contribution to the community over more than three decades and in particular, for her work with remote Indigenous communities.


Portrait of a Chancellor – Artist Paul Newton


A Chancellor’s Journey It was from humble beginnings that Trevor began his university career. After leaving school at 15, he moved to Newcastle at 20 as a newlywed with his childhood sweetheart Helen – who he is still married to today – and took a job as a BHP labourer. It wasn’t long before Trevor started looking for opportunities to improve his career prospects. In 1965, he studied the high school leaving certificate five nights per week, while working by day in a steelyard. The next year – leaving certificate in hand – Trevor was accepted to study an arts degree at the University of Newcastle. He had no doubt enrolling in university was the start of something big, the 69-year-old recalls. “Having actually been accepted into university - I found that such an extraordinary life-changing opportunity,” he said. “If you came from a background similar to mine – and from my particular generation – there were the few who went to university. It was most uncommon for those like myself.” Although Trevor was thrilled to begin his tertiary education, the logistics of balancing study and paying the bills to support his growing family proved a struggle. Working as first a youth worker and then the director at the Newcastle Youth Service was personally rewarding, but offered little in the way of

income because the charity was run on a tiny budget of donations and the proceeds from fund-raising events. Trevor decided, at one point, that he needed to defer his studies until he was able to save up the money to pay his course fees. When he requested permission to do so, Professor Brin Newton-John – the then Vice-Principal of the University – “would have none of it”, Trevor recalls. Instead, Newton-John deferred the fees and insisted Trevor continue with his degree. A year later, when financial trouble struck again, Dr Margaret Jurd came to the rescue and paid the fees on Trevor’s behalf. Those generous acts – and others likes them – were instrumental in shaping his future, the down-to-earth Professor believes. “People along the way were prepared to help me, not necessarily at their own expense – although often it was – but just because they didn’t see why they shouldn’t,” he said. “They were sort of critical turning points. You look back and you think ‘if this hadn’t happened, then this wouldn’t have happened’. At the time, neither they nor I would have recognised the significance of the act.” In the years that followed, Trevor gained a Master of Science, contributed to various

Conjoint Professor Trevor Waring AM was a BHP labourer before tertiary studies enabled him to become a leading clinical psychologist and university chancellor, a position he retired from at the end of April. That journey – and the kindness people showed him along the way – influenced his determination to share with others the “transformative” power of education. welfare projects and became a leading clinical psychologist, but he never forgot the simple acts of kindness that were critical in allowing him to take that path. In the early ‘80s, he made a conscious decision to start pursuing leadership roles that would allow him to make a similar contribution to the lives of others. One of those roles was as a half time fellow in the University’s Medical Faculty, and later, as a Conjoint Professor with the School of Psychology – a title conferred upon academics considered as national or international leaders in their fields. Another such leadership role was as a member of the University Council, which he was elected to in 1984, before becoming Deputy Chancellor in 1997. In 2004, he was elected as the Chancellor, an honour Trevor describes as “quite extraordinary”. The role allowed him to give back to a system that had such a significant impact on the trajectory of his own life. “I think it’s because I’ve received so much that I think the university itself is a transforming body – it can transform people’s lives,” Trevor said. “The amount of return you get from an education in terms of the quality of life… there’s something of me that wants to give back into that,” he said.

With wife Helen at her graduation in 2009

With Helen and children, L-R: Cathy, Janice and John

During his 8-year stint as Chancellor, Trevor– the first University of Newcastle graduate to assume the role, and the first to live in Newcastle – chaired the University Council and senior committees. A most engaged Chancellor in his role as a representative to the community - he averaged attendance at one event per day for the entirety of his Chancellorship - approximately 3000 events over the last 8 years. His duties also included officiating at approximately 160 graduations for about 50,000 students, which – according to Trevor’s calculations – means he’s spent around 319 hours of his life on stage shaking hands. Also worthy of note, is the fact that he had a personal word for each graduate. Of all the graduations he’s attended, his favourite was the 2009 graduation of his wife Helen, who attended the University as a mature-age student after supporting her husband and four children through their studies in the years prior. Trevor was on stage, of course, when Helen walked up to receive her Bachelor of Arts. “A couple of my colleagues were betting on whether she would get a kiss [in addition to the customary handshake] when she came across the stage – and of course she did,” Trevor laughed. Reflecting on his time as Chancellor, Trevor said he had tried to bring some of the empathy and sensitivity to the role that others showed him during crucial points in his studies. “While we have to run the University in a business-like manner, we are not a business like any other business. I just felt that we as a governing body and

as a university as a whole have what I would regard as a sacred trust – [that is] to have these lives in your hands and the lives of the people they will serve,” he said. Among his favourite experiences as Chancellor were the many graduation ceremonies he attended for students who came through the University’s three enabling programs – courses designed as alternative entry pathways for students often from difficult backgrounds. “They would bring you to tears, some of the stories,” Trevor said. One story that stuck out in his mind was that of a young mother of three who had her first child in her mid-teens. She gained entry into Yapug – an enabling program for indigenous students – and did so well that she was later accepted to study medicine. “I find that mindblowing – that’s extraordinary,” Trevor said. “It’s just so inspiring to see people succeed when they have come through the back door to get there. It’s an illustration of the transforming nature of the University.” In representing the institution as Chancellor in the community, Trevor hopes he has been able to bridge some of the gaps he believes have existed, historically, between the public and academic organisations. “I would hope people would think, if nothing else, that I had some basic interpersonal skills that made people comfortable, so they didn’t think academia was elite and out of reach,” he said. Trevor has also been recognised by his alumni peers. He was the recipient of both the 1982 Newton John Award for his contribution to the region and the 2001

With son, Associate Professor Peter Waring, Singapore

Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence. “I have also thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many of our alumni, my fellow graduates both in Australia and abroad – I am proud to be part of the alumni and really value the friendships I have made along the way.” In April, Trevor’s Chancellorship came to an end when he officially retired – but it’s no surprise to hear he hasn’t slowed down too much. He remains on the Hunter’s Local Health District Board and the boards of a number of charities, including Samaritans. While we might not see him around campus quite as often anymore, Trevor’s face won’t be forgotten. Before retiring, he posed for artist Paul Newton who painted a portrait of Trevor that now hangs in the Great Hall (see page 6). Although he was honoured to be remembered in such a way, Trevor – not one to take himself too seriously – joked that the portrait didn’t turn out exactly as he had hoped. “The artist was a most incorruptible man,” he said. “Despite my requests, he refused to paint hair on me.” Trevor will maintain his close relationship with the alumni when he takes up the role of Patron of the new Hunter Alumni Chapter to be launched on 27 September 2012.

Picture bottom left: The Deputy Vice-Chancellors with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, April 2012. Bottom right: The Chancellor with Malaysian Alumni, November 2011.


With the 2012 London Olympic Games fast approaching, it seemed a fitting time for the Alumni Magazine to tell the stories of some of the University’s most successful athletes. The University of Newcastle has been home to many academic achievements, but a lesser-known fact is that many of our graduates also excel on the sporting field. Our list of high-achievers crosses many sports and includes people such as swimmer Justin Norris, who studied at the University before moving to the Australian Institute of Sport. Justin won bronze in the 200m butterfly at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, softball player Belinda Wright who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and runner Heath Francis who has a plethora of gold, silver and bronze Paralympic medals from Beijing, Sydney and the Athens Games in 2004. Not only does the University boast a proud sporting history, our graduates have also played important off-field Olympic roles. Among the most celebrated is teaching graduate and honorary degree recipient Dr Kevan Gosper – 4x100m silver medallist at the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne - who has served in key roles on the International and the Australian Olympic Committees over many years. Engineering graduates Mark Arkinstall and Ryan Andriessen’s leading structural design work with the team that created the famous Watercube swimming centre for the Beijing Games; business graduate Jason Choy, CEO of the firm managing many of the security solutions for the London Olympics; and, teaching graduate Gerry Collins who has called races for the ABC from the last 6 Olympics. As part of our Olympic feature, we spoke in detail to former Hockeyroo captain Robyn Leggatt, judo player Martin Kelly, discus thrower Benn Harradine and four-time Paralympic wheelchair basketballer Liesl Tesch. The profiles on the following pages look at their impressive achievements on and off the field, as well as delving into their Olympic memories and investigating their most memorable sporting moments.

DID YOU KNOW? • 22 sporting clubs are formally affiliated with NUsport. • The first club affiliated with NUsport was the Bushwalking Club in 1953. • The largest confirmed membership of a club was the mountaineering Club with over 400 members for 1995-1998, peaking at just over 500. • The first Sport Person of the Year was awarded in 1965 to Rugby Blue John Rowland. • Eight sports scholarships are offered at the University each year, seven of which are funded by the University and one by the Friends of the University. • In September 2003 NuSport hosted the Australian University Games with over 5000 students from 47 campuses around Australia involved in the week long competition. The University of Newcastle won 6 gold medals and placed second overall. • Forty communication students from the University of Newcastle were selected to work as ‘flash quote’ reporters at the Beijing Olympic Games. The University of Newcastle was the only tertiary institution in New South Wales selected to send students to work with the international media contingent.

Communications Students working at the Beijing Olympics 2008

• Dr Bernie Curran, current Vice President of the Executive Committee of Alumni is also a Rugby Blue.


Throwing the distance Champion discus thrower Benn Harradine is tall, heavy and incredibly muscular – so it’s a little surprising to learn that prancing around like a ballerina is a regular part of his preparation for the London Olympics. The Newcastle-raised thrower admits there is a frustrating misconception that discus is “just an arm thing and it’s easy”, but the diversity of his athletic abilities and training schedule prove otherwise. At 199cm tall and weighing 115 kg, Benn is an incredibly athletic figure who can squat 355 kilograms, bench press 225 kilograms, standing long jump 3.65 metres and sprint 100 metres in less than 11 seconds (the world record is 9.58 seconds). His exercise regime includes not just weight training and throwing, but also gymnastics, running, jumps, ballet, hurdles, foot co-ordination, stabilisation and yoga. “Discus is an art… it’s the culmination of all these training methods all put into throwing a 2 kilogram implement as far as humanly possible,” Benn said. “We [discus throwers] may be big guys and girls, but the ones at the top are extraordinary athletes,” he said.

The 29-year-old – a University of Newcastle Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Health and Physical Education graduate – has been involved in discus since he was eight years of age and won his first national underage title at 14. At 18, he made a decision to start taking the sport seriously. “That same day I had ‘citius, altius, fortius’ [the Olympic motto meaning faster, higher, stronger] tattooed on my inner left bicep as a commitment to my dream of being an Olympic athlete.” “I thought to myself ‘either I make the Games after I get this tattoo, or I look like a peanut for the rest of my life’,” he said. Fortunately, that dream did come true when Benn represented Australia at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. “I did learn a great deal from Beijing,” he said. “Now, looking forward to London, I have more focus on two things: firstly, performing to my ability – secondly, having an epic time.” An evident passion for discus and a down-toearth nature have been important assets for Benn in a sport that doesn’t even earn him enough money to pay the bills.

He thanks his family for supporting him through the ups and downs of a career in which he’s racked up five consecutive national titles and a Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medal. As for future plans, Benn doesn’t like to give too much away. But he will say that he wants to keep challenging the misconceptions of his sport and bring a little “flare” to his discipline. “That’s what I live for,” Benn said. He’s become renowned for his “interesting” competition outfits and antics such as completing a gymnastics routine in his undies in snowy Germany as part of a bet he lost at a training camp – footage of which he proudly displays on his website. “I want to give something to the audience that they will remember and smile about. After all, I love this sport I do. I started it because it was fun and I’m still having so much fun 20 years later. Even at the most important of competitions, the enjoyment never stops.”

Robyn Leggatt represented Australia as a Hockeyroo during the 1980’s.

A sporting life Friends and family won’t expect to see much of former Hockeyroo captain and Swansea High School principal Robyn Leggatt during the upcoming London Olympic Games.

Robyn was selected to captain the Hockeyroos at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles – a “pretty awesome” honour – but again trouble struck.

Sports-mad Robyn will be glued to her television during the Games coverage, but she hasn’t yet decided if she thinks the Hockeyroos look set to score a medal.

The team had just lost a game – and with it, the gold medal – and were travelling back to the Olympic village to rest, before they played the US in a penalty shootout for the bronze medal the next day. At the last minute, the decision was changed and the team ordered to play the shootout that afternoon.

“It’s hard to say. Their lead up form hasn’t been great, but they’ve got a few people coming back from injury and the team on paper looks pretty strong at the moment,” she said. Robyn recalls her own Olympic experiences as “bittersweet”. She was selected to play for the Hockeyroos at the 1980 Games in Moscow, but her team boycotted – as did many – because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. “Silly, silly us. We thought it would make a difference – what a load of rubbish,” she said of the decision. The Hockeyroos went on to win a tournament held in the US that year as an alternative to the Olympics – and in doing so, they beat the top-ranked teams Germany and Holland. In other words, the Hockeyroos essentially won the Olympic competition that year – just not officially.

“The other team had known for two hours and they were out the back practicing. We had just come off the field [from another game] and were mentally and physically exhausted,” Robyn said. The Hockeyroos lost the shootout and were later sent an official apology from the International Olympic Committee. “All of the wonderful stuff about the Olympics, and there was lots of it, sort of got away,” she said. “But if that’s the worst that’s going to happen in your life, then that’s pretty good.” Outside of Olympic competition, Robyn had plenty of success. After moving from Taree to study maths teaching at the University of Newcastle – later changing to PE teaching – Robyn made

both the state and national sides on many occasions in the ‘70s and ‘80s. After the world cup in 1983, she was named in the world team – a group of 11 players selected to form the ultimate international side. While working full-time and raising daughters Jamie and Eryn, Robyn also worked extensively as a coach – including more than 30 years with the Novocastrian Women’s Hockey Club [Novos] premier side and Newcastle and District Women’s Hockey Association. She also served as a member of the board that established the Hunter Academy of Sport and last year was awarded an Order of Australia medal for her many years as a hockey coach and selector. While her professional days are now behind her, Robyn – the relieving principal at Swansea High School – still enjoys playing with her long-time club Novos. “It’s calorie expenditure and frustration release,” Robyn joked. “As a principal, you need it.”


Judo champion’s long road to the top Any Olympic athlete will tell you that walking into a massive arena for a Games opening ceremony is a spine-tingling moment – but it was particularly so for Martin Kelly, because he came so close to never making it there.

advised the injury was not quite as serious as he had initially been told. “Coming back by myself from Europe, I was pretty much thinking my chance to go to the Olympics was gone,” he said.

The Maitland-raised judo player and University of Newcastle graduate had planned to compete in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but that dream was dashed when he broke two ribs in the qualifying event.

“But when I did get home, it wasn’t as bad as first thought. I didn’t end up needing surgery because it was the posterior ligament [rather than the anterior].”

Martin got back in form in time to attempt qualification for the Athens Olympics in 2004, but injury struck once more.

Martin recovered from the injury in time to qualify for Olympic selection, an event he described as “the biggest moment” of his career.

Months out from the qualifying event, he badly hurt his knee at a training camp in Poland and a local doctor, who spoke little English, gave him a shattering three-word diagnosis: “Cruciate. Surgery. Home”. Martin was devastated because he knew the seriousness of a cruciate injury that required surgery would likely mean he couldn’t recover in time for Olympic qualification. Fortunately, when he arrived home he was

While he didn’t take home a medal, Martin has vivid memories of how incredible it was to take part in an Olympic Games – especially considering how hard he fought to get there. “It feels like you’re in any other competition until you walk into the opening ceremony and there’s 100,000 people watching and cheering. The buzz is incredible,” he said. “There seemed to be Australian flags everywhere and the response from the

crowd was just amazing.” Martin’s other sporting achievements include competing in three world championships and winning six national championships, a silver medal at the 2001 East Asian Games and a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. In 2007, Martin retired from professional competition due to a neck injury. He now works in the pharmaceutical industry and continues to train in judo, and coach young talent. Martin said he was glad he made time in his busy training schedule to complete a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Masters in Chemistry, because his studies meant he had a career to fall back on when he retired from sport. “It’s important to keep developing your education or professional life, because you don’t know when your sporting career is going to end,” he said.


Sailing towards gold Wheelchair basketballer Liesl Tesch is transforming her career in pursuit of a gold medal, while using sport to transform the lives of others. The five-time Paralympian – who studied a Bachelor of Science and a Diploma in Education at the University of Newcastle – is one of the most decorated and respected members of the Australian Paralympic team. While she’s proud of the incredible things she’s achieved so far in her career – including two silver Paralympic medals and one bronze – Liesl said she can’t curb the urge to win gold. “We came second in Sydney. It sounds glorious, but it’s losing the last game,” she said. “Sydney was silver and Athens was silver and then Beijing was bronze, so now I’m determined to get the gold.” The quest for that elusive gold medal led the 42-year-old to a surprising decision last year – she retired from wheelchair basketball and took up sailing. It was a big shift for the Brisbane Water Secondary College geography teacher, as wheelchair basketball has been a huge part

of her life since she broke her back during a fall from her bicycle in 1988. Liesl – who suffers incomplete paraplegia – recalls how inspired she was the first time she watched the sport at a stadium in Mt Druitt a few months after her accident. “All of a sudden, there was life in a wheelchair,” she said. In part, Liesl’s transition to sailing was inspired by the “most amazing” experience of her life – her participation in SBS television series Disable Bodied Sailors. The series followed a group of people with disabilities ranging from paraplegia to blindness as they prepared for and competed in the 2009 Sydney to Hobart race. During the show, Liesl met and fell in love with one of her fellow sailors. “Now we live happily ever after,” she giggled. In addition to this, Beijing silver medalist in sailing - Daniel Fitzgibbon saw Liesl in the documentary and tracked her down with an invitation to sail with him on an 18 foot Paralympic class SKUD18. In the short time since the pair have been sailing together, they have already enjoyed considerable success.

They won their first competition in the 2011 World Cup meets in Miami and Weymouth and took home bronze in the 2011 World Championships. The same year, Liesl and Daniel were named Australian Sailors of the Year with a Disability. This year, the pair won a bronze medal and a gold medal at the ISAF World Cup, suggesting they’ll be tough competition at the upcoming London Paralympics. Aside from her sporting successes, Liesl said one of her proudest achievements was recently establishing an NGO – Sport Matters – to bring the benefits of sport to disabled people in developing countries. Liesl has established several basketball clinics for wheelchair users in places such as East Timor, South Africa and Laos. “Access to sport is a human right and Sport Matters aims to unite communities and create social change using sport as a socially acceptable, low cost tool for development,” she said. “People with disabilities in developing nations are very isolated… but if they’re together playing sport, they’re having fun, it is much easier to improve health and human rights.”

Liesl Tesch and Daniel Fitzgibbon – Photo Jeff Crow


TRAVELLING ALUMS Take a tour of the Moghul Gardens in Srinagar... Written by David Young OAM noted horticulturist – photography by graduate Jennie Thomas Newcastle Alum Jennie Thomas recently visited Kashmir - in the far north of India - with her camera and partner, David Young. David has a diverse and distinguished horticultural career. In 1987 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and in 1993 was honoured with the Order of Australia Medal. He hosted Canberra’s ABC Saturday garden show for 12 years and was the gardening expert for many years on local television and at radio 2CC where he hosted three hours of gardening talk-back each weekend. David has escorted many garden tours through England, South Africa, Europe and Asia. He and Jennie, both now retired, visit many unusual places and enjoy sharing their stories. Few foreign tourists visit Srinagar nowadays as most western governments have travel advisories against visiting here. However, we didn’t feel unsafe at any time even though we didn’t see any other westerners. And even though many things have changed for the worse, one thing has changed for the better - the Moghul Gardens have been renovated. They are treasures well worth visiting!

I first visited Srinagar, the capital of the Indian north-western state of Jammu and Kashmir, in late 1980. Back then, it was an attractive place full of half-timbered houses with orangey-red bricks and thatched roofs. The Jhelum River which meanders through the city, the large Dal Lake and a couple of minor lakes, made this an idyllic place. The first Moghul garden we visited was the Pari Mahal garden, located on the Zebanwan Mountain, 5 km west of the center of Srinagar. Consisting of six terraces aligned roughly north-south, with arched retaining walls supporting the terraces against the mountain. Unlike other Mughul gardens, this garden has no water cascades or chadars ramps that transfer water from one terrace to another. Pari Mahal was built in the mid-seventeenth century on the ruins of a Buddhist monastery by Prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, the Emperor who built the Taj Mahal. It was used as an observatory for the teaching of astrology and astronomy. Last year the opportunity arose to return to Kashmir and the old adage ‘don’t go back, you’ll be disappointed’ proved to be true. Gone were the slumbering idyllic surrounds of the past – now overrun with corrugated iron, waste and weed choked lakes, and an overabundance of police and military personnel.

After coming down from the mountain, we visited the largest and most famous of the Moghul gardens of Srinigar - Shalimar Bagh - situated on the northeast shore of Dal Lake. Restoring this second century garden was the dream project of Emperor Jahangir in 1619. Emperor Shah Jahan ordered further extensions in 1630 and now, renovated once more, it is considered to be the high point of Mughul style horticulture.

The layout is an adaptation of the ancient Persian gardens which were built on a square plan with four arms radiating from a central location. This couldn’t be replicated in the hilly conditions in the Kashmir valley, so the design was modified to suit the terrain and the water sources. Water was diverted from a higher elevation and was run - using gravity - along the main channel that runs through the three long terraces of this rectangular garden. There are many fountains and pavilions in this garden which is 587 metres long and 251 meters wide. The three terraces are lined with mature chinar trees (Plantanus orientalis), which create magnificent leafy vistas. Many of these trees were planted by Shah Jahan during the early decades of the 17th Century. Colourful flower beds beside the water follow the line of the vistas and add that extra dimension to delight visitors. In 1632, Shah Jahan also built Chesma Shahi, the smallest of these Moghul gardens. It is known as ‘Royal Spring’ due to the mineral-rich spring water that feeds the water courses. At one point, water tumbles down a steep ladder like ‘rill’. This much steeper site is at an elevation that affords grand views back to the mountains as well as out over the Srinagar valley and its lakes. Chinars feature predominately here as do various conifers and other trees suited to the climate which is hot and humid during the summer and snowy cold during the winter months. Colourful flower beds again delight the eye.

chinar trees and long vistas of flower beds. But, it lacked the water courses. It was a perfect place to wander quietly at the end of a day spent exploring the Kashmir countryside. Kashmir may not be the place for everyone to visit, but if you do get there, don’t miss visiting the 350 plus-year-old Moghul gardens of Srinagar.

There must have been plenty of work for the horticultural trades in those times, or otherwise, prisoners and slaves from defeated armies were ‘gainfully’ employed! In 1633 a fourth Moghul garden was built in Srinigar - Nishat Bagh (Garden of Joy) designed and built by Asif Khan the father-in-law and Prime Minister of Shah Jahan. As with Shalimar, a rectangular design was employed but with a central axis of 548m in length. Asif wasn’t silly enough to make his garden bigger than his Emperors! There are twelve terraces, each terrace representing a Zodiac sign. The cascades between each terrace and the numerous fountains create sound as the water falls. The water sparkles when the sun shines. Chinar and cypress trees again dominate the landscape. The garden of our hotel, a former palace, was built somewhat along Moghul design principles with pools and fountains, wonderful old

Do you have an interesting travel story or photos you want to share? Email us at



Music graduate Liesl Scheman and her sister Chanel (far left) also a graduate, pictured with their family. Liesl and Chanel frequently provide the musical interludes at graduation ceremonies. On this occasion they were joined by young sister Rachel (second left).


Do you remember what the occasional speaker said at your graduation? The Great Hall resounded with wisdom as occasional addresses were given and graduate speakers reminisced. As the Chancellor mentioned, if the graduates who spoke are representative of their cohort - then the future is in good hands. Alum and renowned author, Marion Halligan returned and her speech was that of a master story teller at work; among a plethora of excellence, we bring you an extract from the occasional address given by Alasdair Foster on 14 April 2012 as a ‘graduation glimpse’.

BUILDING BRIDGES You will find, as you move out into the world, an increasing pressure to measure your success. Two apparently easy metrics are money and popularity. Sadly the measurable is not always a correlate of the useful, and such measures are potentially dangerous to our sense of community and disabling to the individual. But consider now, as you start out on your journey, not of the beginning, but its end. When you come to leave the road and look back, what will you value most? I doubt that it will be money in the bank or how many “likes” you have on Facebook. High on the list, I think, will be human relationships and new things learned. This is neither an accident nor a romantic humanistic illusion. When I was young, the term “Neanderthal” was used to describe a lack of culture and ingenuity. But archaeologists have found tools and artworks created by Neanderthals and scientists have identified the gene associated with the adaptation to speech in Neanderthal bones. Nonetheless, human beings prospered while Neanderthals became extinct. The one significant difference was that Neanderthals always lived as individuals hunting and gathering solo. The advantage of being human was collaboration. As the Japanese say, “None of us is smarter than all of us”. So, my advice is to build bridges between yourself and others; between your discipline and others; between your culture and others. Early in my career, while working on a film about the building of a new road from Edinburgh to Inverness, I learned about the structure of arched bridges and particular those build in the early 1700s by General George Wade when the very first road was constructed between the cities. A stone arch is created using wedge-shaped blocks. It is the very weight of the stones that gives the arch its strength. However, the force that binds the arch also pushes outwards and,

in order not to cave in, each end must have a firm footing that rests equally on either side. I have come to understand that human connections are like Wade’s bridges. They require a certain gravitas to hold together and they last longest when they are approached in the mutual respect of equals. There is one more thing to remember about bridges: they are most useful when they take you somewhere new. We live in ever changing times and we must innovate and adapt if we are to function within the world as it is becoming. With industrialization came social and technological complexity. The response was increasing specialization, which found its apotheosis in Fordism and the production line, where each worker knows only how to perform one small task and loses their overview of the whole. In a democracy it is essential that we have a sense of the bigger picture. For it is only then that we can make informed practical and ethical decisions. The best way to maintain that overview is to continuously seek out new perspectives. In his recent book on the human imagination, Jonah Lehrer emphasises that creativity is “an emergent property of people coming together” and of outsiders bringing a fresh perspective to insiders. He concludes that “the act of creation is inseparable from the act of connection.” So, today celebrate your achievement! But tomorrow, begin to build your bridges. Reach out to people who are different from you. Share what you know and listen to what others have to say. Connect with the richness of humankind and be generous. Alasdair Foster Occasional Speaker Faculty of Education and Arts Graduation Ceremony – April 2012

Alasdair Foster combines more than 20 years experience heading national arts institutions in Europe and Australia, with 35 years working in the not-for-profit sector. His current role as founder of Cultural Development Consulting - which specialises in international intercultural projects, allows his creative, intellectual and management skills to flourish in pursuit of his passion for the democratisation of the arts. Among a raft of significant leadership roles, Alasdair has also contributed his expertise to advisory panels for the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (UK), the National Arts and Tourism Conference (Scotland) and the Australian National Visual Arts and Craft Network. In 2011, Alasdair was the first non-Chinese advisor to China’s largest photo event, Pingyao International Photography Festival.

“So my friends, through our education, we are truly free. Free to choose our paths in life - armed with an education to get us wherever we desire to go - that is the greatest freedom of all.” Max Allan 2012 Graduate Speaker and University Medallist B of Laws / Dip of Legal Practice 2012 B of Economics 2009 Some speeches are available online at alumni-news/graduation-speeches.html



Professor John Dai Faculty of Business and Law



Internationally respected across business, education and renewable energy research sectors, Professor John Dai has forged a successful career working with high profile global companies and higher education institutions both in Australia and overseas.

Professor Gillian Turner AO is a distinguished physician, an internationally acclaimed geneticist and a worldwide authority on the X chromosome.

Professor Balakrishnan (Kichu) Nair AM is a consultant physician in geriatrics and general medicine, internationally recognised as a pioneer in his field.

Among her most important work in the 1970s was contributing to the discovery of the Fragile X syndrome and defining the importance of X-linked mental retardation.

He is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean of Continuing Medical Professional Development at the University of Newcastle; Director of the Centre for Medical Professional Development, Hunter New England Local Health District and Chair of the University’s Conjoint Appointments Committee.

Professor Dai holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Shanghai Normal University (1976) and was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Yunnan University of Finance and Economics (China) in 2005, and an Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt University in 2006. He has contributed significantly to the education sectors in Australia and Asia. Working closely with his father, Professor Norman Dai, he developed the original program for Tertiary Education International, which created opportunities for Chinese students to gain Australian degrees and vice versa through joint programs and partner institutions. Professor Dai played an integral role in founding the Shangri-La University Alliance, established between the University of Newcastle and four Chinese universities. In 2007, Professor Dai became a Director of Design Licensing International, a company specialising in wind turbine technology. In 2010, he signed a contract for that company to supply 800-kilowatt mini wind turbines for Shanghai Tower which, when completed in 2014, will be the world’s second tallest building. Also well known for his philanthropy and community service, Professor Dai established a foundation that provides more than $2 million Renminbi a year in funding for research grants and scholarships to help disadvantaged, academically excellent students in China gain an education. He also funded construction of the world’s largest skate park, the SMP Park in Shanghai.

Professor Turner studied a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at St Andrews University, Scotland graduating in 1956. From 1956 to 1970 she trained as a paediatrician in Canada before emigrating to Australia. She became interested in developmental disability and genetics while working with her husband Brian Turner at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States. She was a Research Fellow with the Children’s Medical Research Foundation in Sydney from 1970 to 1974 and the Director of the Tumbatin Clinic at the Prince of Wales Hospital for a decade from 1975. The Clinic specialised in the assessment of developmentally disabled children. As Associate Professor of Medical Genetics at the Prince of Wales Hospital Sydney between 1986 and 1994, she established a genetic outreach service for regional areas of NSW and ran the Fragile X screening program of NSW. In 1994 she became Director of Hunter Genetics and the Gold Service (Genetics of Learning Disability) and was appointed the first Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Newcastle In 1990, Professor Turner was recognised for her outstanding contribution to the field of medicine in being made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to genetics. She is an honorary member of the Human Genetics Society of Australia.

Professor Nair graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery in India in 1973 and a Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology (Clinical Epidemiology) from the University of Newcastle in 1995. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Glasgow, Ireland, Edinburgh and of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. In leading the evolution of professional medical development in his field, Professor Nair has advanced the study and practise of geriatric medicine. He was the first in Australia to pilot a multidisciplinary learning unit focusing on elderly patient care and in 2001/2002 he led the ‘Maggie Project’ in Newcastle, a program designed to improve the quality of care provided to hospitalised elderly patients. Its success led to the establishment of similar programs across NSW. Professor Nair is foundation Chair of the Hunter Ageing Research Group. In 2009 he was awarded the Order of Australia for service to medicine and to medical education through the development of undergraduate and professional programs and as a geriatrician.



staff The Honourable KEVIN LINDGREN QC AM Doctor of Law 1997, Doctor of Philosophy 1973, Master of Arts 1968, Bachelor of Arts 1962

Emeritus Scientia Professor EUGENIE LUMBERS AM Professor, School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy



For service to the judiciary and the administration of justice through the Federal Court of Australia, and to legal education in the area of commercial law. See page 20 regarding the 2012 Sir Ninian Stephen lecture, presented by Kevin Lindgren.

For service to the medical sciences in the fields of physiology and pharmacology as a researcher, academic and administrator, and to the community.



Master of Medical Science (Clinical Epidemiology) 2003

Department of Surgical Oncology, University of Newcastle, Calvary Mater Newcastle

PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL For outstanding public service to Queensland Health, particularly in the areas of infectious diseases and clinical education.


MEMBER IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA For service to medicine in the field of breast cancer research, to the development of improved clinical practice standards, and to the community. Conjoint Professor PETER HANSEN OAM

Bachelor of Education 1981

Conjoint Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment



For service to education through the development and national delivery of the Science and Engineering Challenge.

For service to the building and construction industry, and to the community.



Bachelor of Engineering 1965

Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health

MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION For service to the building and construction industry.

Mr DOUGLAS DEAN AM Bachelor of Commerce 1976 MEMBER IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA For service to business and commerce through the development and provision of sustainable waste management and resource recovery solutions, and to the community.

MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION For service to medicine in rural and remote areas of New South Wales. Associate Professor GANAPATHI MURUGESAN OAM Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION For service to medicine, particularly in the field of psychiatry.


FACULTY OF BUSINESS AND LAW Eminent lawyer lectures to first-year law Students THE HON KEVIN LINDGREN QC AM The Hon Kevin Lindgren QC AM, Conjoint Professor of Law at The University of Newcastle, retired from a long and distinguished judicial career in February 2010, where he made significant contributions to the Australian Legal System. Lindgren was appointed to the Federal Court of Australia in 1994. Prior to his appointment he worked as a highly successful solicitor, academic – as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer then Professor of Law at the University of Newcastle, barrister and then Queen’s Counsel at the Sydney Bar. During his time as a Judge, Lindgren also served as the President of the Copyright Tribunal. SIR NINIAN STEPHEN LECTURE The Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture was established in 1993 to mark the arrival of the first group of Bachelor of Laws students. The Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor-General of Australia, delivered the inaugural lecture bearing his name.

Offshore processing of asylum seekers could threaten the implementation of a major principle of Australian law, a former federal court judge told University of Newcastle law students at the 20th annual Sir Ninian Stephen Lecture earlier this year. Kevin Lindgren QC AM delivered this year’s lecture, given annually by an eminent lawyer to welcome first-year law students to the University and the legal fraternity. Lindgren delivered his lecture – “The Rule of Law: its state of health in Australia” – to an auditorium of students and legal professionals at the Conservatorium of Newcastle on April 27. The rule of law is a key principle of Australian law meaning that all people – including the government, its agencies and others in positions of power – are subject to the same laws that apply to ordinary citizens. During the lecture, Lindgren discussed a number of possible threats to the application of the rule of law in contemporary Australia. Lindgren expressed concern that offshore processing enabled the government to exempt asylum seekers from receiving the same legal rights and protections that would be applicable if they were processed in Australia. “Granting asylum seekers access to lawyers and courts can be an inconvenience [for the government],” Lindgren said. Lindgren concluded by telling students that the independence and integrity of the legal profession was paramount in ensuring the rule of law was carried out to the fullest extent possible. “The independence of the legal profession is important for the rule of law,” he said. “Students… remember the rule of law depends very much on you.”

Colombo Plan graduate honoured with prestigious award University of Newcastle economics and engineering graduate and Colombo Plan scholar, Dr TAN Chin Nam took the Singapore Australia Alumni Awards highest honour - the 2012 Eminent Alumni Award at a glittering affair at the Australian High Commission in May. The awards are open to all graduates of all Australian universities who live and work in Singapore. Dr Tan is one of Singapore’s most distinguished public servants. He received four Public Administration Service Medals during his 33 years of service in top leadership roles before his retirement in 2007 as the Permanent. Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. Dr Tan is currently the Chair of the Media development Authority International Advisory Panel and holds significant directorships across Asia. Dr Tan’s expertise and personal contributions have influenced the development in Singapore of art and culture, the media, IT and Communications, tourism, human capital and the economy.

Dr Tan (left) pictured with Dr. Lee Boon Yang




Bachelor of Business (Honours) 2000

Bachelor of Commerce 2001

Alumnus Cary Lee is determined to curb the Hunter Region’s shocking prostate cancer mortality rate – a difficult mission, no doubt, but he’s already seeing signs of progress.

One often hears the expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Rom-coms use it to convince the gorgeous Channing Tatum lookalike to fall for the sweet, but socially awkward, schoolgirl. It is the line that makes you look twice at the shy guy who remembers your coffee order, and doesn’t judge you for it.

After working for 10 years in marketing planning and strategy, Cary decided it was time to make a shift to something “a bit more fulfilling”. So, he took a sizeable pay cut three years ago when he moved into a financial role with the Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance. The alliance provides a prostate cancer counselling service and aims to increase community awareness of the disease. Cary – a Bachelor of Commerce graduate with Honours in Business – was soon promoted to CEO. In his time at the helm, he has already seen plenty of progress in the fight against the deadly disease. Firstly, the Hunter’s prostate cancer mortality rate – which had been 40 per cent higher than metropolitan Sydney – has gradually declined. Secondly, the Hunter has gone from being one of the worst areas in the state to one of the best in terms of the number of men receiving prostate tests.

It is a line that describes Jo Heighway, who herself admits that, at first glance, she does not look like a leading financial super advisor with an abundance of credentials to her name. Jo Heighway is a young businesswoman, owner and entrepreneur whose dedication to bettering her own education has proven successful on a number of accounts. In 2005, Jo started Engage Super Audits from her lounge room, offering auditing services to other accountants thanks to her education in financial planning, superannuation and auditing. “Being in the industry for many years, I saw a growing need for accountants to be able to have their work audited without doing it in house or by a competitor,” says Jo. “Self managed funds is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia and I saw an opportunity to exploit this market, by developing Engage Super Audits.”

“Obviously, we can’t take all the credit for that, but we truly believe that we’ve made a significant difference,” Cary said.

In the past 7 years, not only has Jo been busy with her four children, she has seen her business grow to being one of the leading financial super advisors in Australia.

One of the changes he has implemented as CEO has been a greater focus on targeting specific workplaces as a way to bring the prostate cancer awareness message to their key demographic – men in their 40s and over.

In September 2011, Jo Heighway was announced the NSW Telstra’s Young Businesswoman of the year and then named Telstra’s Young Business Woman for 2011.

“That really hits our target audiences… so it’s a lot better than running barbecues every week,” Cary said. Since finishing University, Cary has worked in a number of roles, including as a tutor and guest lecturer at the University and in marketing for Newcastle Innovation. However, he said his current role was his most rewarding yet. “One of the best things you can get from your day is when somebody comes in here a bit distressed and you have a talk to them - they go to see the counsellor and they come out and feel like a completely different person. They are grateful for this space and for being listened to.”

Jo still recalls her time at the University of Newcastle, and is enjoying her ongoing engagement as an alumnus. “As my team grows, my relationship with the University of Newcastle becomes tighter,” Jo says. “I identify and invite high quality students to join my team, and love the speaking opportunities I am given at the university to talk to students about my journey and provide guidance to their own.” With Jo’s charming nature, humble accounts of her glowing credentials and passion for her work, it is no wonder that she is in reception of Telstra’s Business accolade, and one of the many successful Alumni of the University of Newcastle. Written by Jessica McAneney (Bachelor of Communication student), published in Yak, issue 2, 2012.



Erin at work

Associate Professor Pamela van der Riet from the School of Nursing and Midwifery

Changing lives: a graduate’s mission ERIN THURSBY Graduate Diploma in Education 2006 After visiting children suffering serious illnesses such as HIV, TB and cancer, alumnus Erin Thursby couldn’t shake the feeling that the patients in the paediatric ward at Lampang Hospital in Thailand needed her help. The Epping West Public School teacher first travelled to northern Thailand in 2011 and the idea for the “Project Fairy Garden” grew from her visit to Lampang Hospital where Erin worked as a volunteer in the children’s ward. Since then, Erin has been determined to improve the hospital environment available to the children she met, many of whom were out of school for long periods and had few social or educational experiences while in hospital. On her return home, Erin started volunteering at Westmead Children’s Hospital – while working full-time as a teacher – to research ways she could help. “I’ve noticed at Westmead, the kids just want to get out of the hospital rooms – to get out of the fluorescent-lighted rooms and into the garden,” she said. That observation was the impetus for Project Fairy Garden – a healing haven designed to help children at Lampang Hospital play and learn with other children.

Thanks to fundraising efforts, the project is now almost complete and includes features such as a gazebo, an arched bridge, a cubby house, a swinging bridge, a fort, fairy murals, a slide, swings, spring toys and a patio. Associate Professor Pamela van der Riet from the School of Nursing and Midwifery who fundraised on the project with her stepdaughter – said the garden was designed to provide essential psychosocial support for children and their families. “Children need both stimulation and hope when unwell,” she said. “An environment that involves and actively stimulates their senses can be a positive step in both psychological and physical improvement.” Erin is helping ensure hospital nursing staff and students from the local nursing college know how to exploit the full potential of the garden by teaching them to conduct handson activities that help the children learn, socialise and relieve stress. In January this year, colleagues from Epping West Public School accompanied Erin to Lampang and conducted educational play workshops with nursing staff and students. While the project has involved many hours of hard work – mostly squeezed in during her annual leave and spare days and hours here and there – Erin said she got all the thanks she needed when she saw the children use

the garden for the first time at an opening ceremony earlier this year. “That was amazing, that was the total reward… there were a few tears shed that day,” she said. “Just seeing the kids faces when they were playing in the garden, you could see the positive effect it had.” Although Project Fairy Garden is now up and running, Erin has no plans to slow down. Seeing the impact it’s having on children in Lampang has made her determined to visit in the July school holidays to help maintain the garden and hand out soft toys donated by Salvation Army. Erin was overwhelmed by the community support from fundraising efforts in Australia and the local support from sponsors, labourers and volunteers locally in northern Thailand. “If you have a dream and you have lots of support, you can make a difference,” Erin said.


ALLI HAMMETT Graduate Diploma in Education 1985 Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) 1984 Alli Hammett was told she would never walk again after suffering a major stroke that left her paralysed down one side and unable to talk. Not only did she astound doctors by achieving what they thought impossible, she went on to pioneer changes in the way victims of stroke – Australia’s second biggest killer – are cared for in emergency departments around the country. Twelve years since the day her life changed forever, Alli – a University of Newcastle graduate – is still working to promote stroke awareness and campaign for increased government funding to tackle the disease. Among her current projects, Alli is a member of the National Stroke Foundation’s Stroke Consumer Network and is working to establish a not-for-profit organisation for stroke survivors and prevention. At the inaugural TEDxNewy conference last year, Alli spoke about another project – a social movement called Let’s Make Stroke Sexy – that she has spearheaded to tackle the lack of awareness of stroke in Australia. Alli said one Australian dies from stroke every six seconds, but people still know very little about the disease. “It’s not sexy, it’s not an attractive topic, let’s face it. We don’t talk about these sorts of issues,” she said. Alli said that her stroke, while devastating, had motivated her to help others. “I’ve re-learnt to talk, I’ve re-learnt to walk, I’ve re-learnt everything,” she said. While stroke is a cause that Alli has dedicated herself to in recent years, her service to the community began 40 years ago when she started volunteering for a children’s disability service at the tender age of eight. In 1981, she moved to Newcastle and undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) and a Graduate Diploma in Education, while volunteering for up to 20 hours per week. After graduating, she continued to volunteer while working as a school teacher, road safety officer, community development officer and CEO of a not-for-profit organisation. Last year, Alli’s long history of community work was recognised with a Premier of NSW Award for Community Achievement.

CHRIS TOLA Bachelor of Arts 1988 An active undergraduate experience may have stopped Chris Tola from graduating on time, but it also helped set the foundations for an inspiring career. Chris– who is part way through a Master of Business Administration – is the Newcastle City Council sponsorship and business investment officer, a position that involves helping the city’s community groups gain the funding necessary to continue their work. Chris’s passion for community-focused organisations was fostered during his undergraduate studies in the 1980s, when he was the President of the Newcastle University Surf Riders Club and was also involved with the Newcastle University Sports Union and the Newcastle University Union Board of Management. “I was one of those guys that started when university was still free and took eight years to do a three-year Bachelor of Arts because I got involved in everything else,” he said. Chris said his experience working with a number of community organisations was personally rewarding and also gave him an understanding of how important such organisations were in creating a rich and diverse community – something he had endeavored to promote in his professional life. “I really saw the world through being involved in the University of Newcastle,” he said. Since graduating, Chris has worked with and volunteered for a number of organisations, many of which had an environmental focus. This included stints as a Coastalwatch and CoastalCOMS business development manager, a Coastcare regional facilitator and a program manager with Keep Australia Beautiful. Chris said he has a strong interest in the health of coastal environments because he had been a surfer for many years. “I’m not an environmentalist, I wouldn’t know a lomandra from a tuckeroo… [but] I certainly believe I want to leave this place in a better state than it was when I found it,” he said. In his current role with Newcastle City Council, Chris enjoys working to support a broad range of community groups to help ensure they can continue their valuable work. He said there were thousands of community groups in Newcastle with interests as varied as the arts, mental health, social welfare and sport.



PASSION FOR CHANGE Energy expert Professor Behdad Moghtaderi is leading the way towards a cleaner future. “I am driven by a desire to develop technologies that will help reduce greenhouse emissions,” Professor Behdad Moghtaderi says. “It is a moral imperative. The future of our planet relies on it.” It is this passion that has equipped the chemical engineer to take a leading role in the University of Newcastle’s Priority Centre (PRC) for Energy, a national leader in the research field of new-generation clean and renewable energy production. The PRC is a key component of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), a world-class interdisciplinary research facility on the University campus. Moghtaderi’s core research projects span low-emission coal technologies, renewable energy systems, energy efficiency in buildings, and the development of hydrogen-fuelled units to replace lithium batteries in laptops and mobile phones. Arriving in Newcastle in 1999 after studying in Iran and the University of Sydney, he was attracted by the strong research culture and the opportunity to work with engineering luminaries such as Emeritus Professor Terry Wall and Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson. With a strong work ethic and sharp intellect, the prolific academic was quick to make an

impression, moving up the ranks from junior lecturer to professor within eight years.

such as different roofing and walling systems influence a building’s thermal performance.

A consultant to government and industry, Moghtaderi has his finger on the pulse when it comes to anticipating priorities for change and development in the field of energy. As a result, he has attracted more than $17 million in research funding in the past 12 years.

“About 40 per cent of electricity used in Australia and 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are due to space heating and cooling in buildings,” Moghtaderi says. “

“We have recognised the research opportunities, and we are delivering results that are shaping government and industry agendas.” Moghtaderi’s work in biomass and coal utilisation is a good example of the influence of his team’s work. One of his first projects at Newcastle proved that biomass, such as woodchips, could be mixed with coal fuel to reduce emissions. A decade later, the research is being applied in coal-fired power stations across Australia. Similarly, his ongoing collaborative research with Emeritus Professor Adrian Page and the Masonry Research Group into energy efficiency in buildings has prompted revisions to the Building Code of Australia. Using data collected from sensors attached to four small, purpose-built cottages on University grounds, the research team has collected a vast amount of information on how factors

Therefore anything we can do to lower the energy footprint of residential houses in particular will improve the environment and reduce electricity use.” Moghtaderi’s research into chemical looping combustion, a carbon capture and storage technology, is also pioneering and has gathered momentum as industry recognises its potential applications. He has attracted approximately $5 million in grants for six related projects since 2004. “The exciting aspect of chemical looping is that it is enabling technology that will allow other low-emission coal technologies to become economically and technically more attractive,” he says. “So it has huge potential for further research and development.” Moghtaderi and his colleague Dr Elham Doroodchi gained popular attention last year when his GRANEX® power platform featured as a finalist on ABC TV’s ‘The New Inventors’. GRANEX®, developed in conjunction with


BRENDA MATAKA Bachelor of Engineering 2006 A love of make-up was the catalyst for production metallurgist Brenda Mataka to pursue a career in chemical engineering. The 27-year-old Zimbabwe-raised graduate is living proof that engineering can be a fruitful career choice. In 2002, Brenda left Zimbabwe to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Newcastle. The move was inspired by her dream of one day making her own cosmetic products. In her third year of study, Brenda was required to complete a work experience component. The diverse nature of the degree presented other opportunities, particularly in the mineral processing. She secured a role at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley gold mine in Orange. Granite Power Ltd, is an emission-free engine that turns heat from low-grade sources into electricity. It is revolutionary because it is capable of using heat sources that might not otherwise be viably recycled – such as the flue gas from a coal-fired power station, exhaust from a diesel engine or heat from a geothermal source. With GRANEX® now being launched commercially, Moghtaderi has entered into another interesting collaboration with Granite Power Ltd, researching a low-energy, smallscale desalination plant suitable, for example, for use on remote farms. “Like GRANEX®, the desalination plant is designed to be run on waste heat, such as diesel fuel exhaust. However, it will also address wateruse issues by allowing farmers to turn brackish water on their properties into drinking water,” he says. Moghtaderi firmly believes the University is at the international forefront of research into clean and sustainable energy sources. “The University’s engineering area has always been a leader and now, with our PRC and the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources on campus, Newcastle really is Australia’s hub in energy research.”

“It was quite a dynamic environment. Each day had a different challenge; but not matter how complex and difficult it seemed, it was likely a similar problem had been successfully dealt with in the past” Brenda recalled. “I decided to pursue a career in mineral processing and I haven’t looked back since – although I still indulge in my favourite cosmetics brands now and then.” After graduating with Honours in 2006, Brenda worked as an engineer with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), where she spent three years working on research projects for the mining industry. For the past 15 months, she has been a production metallurgist for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam – a copper, gold, silver and uranium mine in remote South Australia, where she is exposed to a variety of unit operations such as hydrometallurgy and solvent extraction. While she is more than happy to chuck on a pair of overalls and safety boots, Brenda is quick to point out that she still enjoys her nail polish and jewellery. “I may have missed out on making cosmetics, but turning dirt into gold is just as satisfying,” she said. Brenda is an advocate for women in engineering and has taken part in a number of events – such as university open days and conferences– where she encourages young female students and upcoming graduates to pursue careers in engineering, just as she has. “With the diversity of challenges the job presents, I am happy to start the day with a sense of purpose and finish it feeling satisfied. I feel privileged to be making a contribution as an engineer.”


FACULTY OF HEALTH Hoops and Health Science In basketball, a good game plan is essential. To play at a professional level, you need discipline, trust in your teammates and confidence in your next move. Erin Lorenzini-Todd seems to have applied these strategies to her own life since completing a Bachelor of Podiatry at the University of Newcastle in 2010. She is the principal podiatrist at Sydney East Podiatry—a private clinic specialising in sports podiatry and lower limb injury—and an elite basketball player, playing for the Sydney Uni Flames at the top of the National Woman’s Basketball League. Erin was lucky enough to know what she wanted to do straight out of school. “I always knew I wanted to go into health sciences,” she says. I enjoyed physics and biomechanics and I already had a sports background so for me, something like podiatry or physiotherapy was the next logical step.” She applied for Podiatry at La Trobe University and, following on from her junior success at state level, began playing basketball for Dandenong. Over the next five years, Erin would move from Melbourne to Adelaide to Sydney, juggling matches, training and study all the way. “I’ve always been determined,” she says. When you play professional sport, you have to be, but it helps that I love what I do. After moving to Sydney, Erin was surprised to learn that at that time there wasn’t a podiatry degree on offer in the city. “I wanted to play for the Flames,” she says, “but it couldn’t be everything; I wanted to have sports science as a career.” With a year of study to go, Erin enrolled at the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah Campus, approaching her final year of university with characteristic drive. “During the basketball season, we were training twice a day, she says. We all had to fit in work or study with our training, but it was manageable. I could train in the morning, schedule appointments with patients and go to classes during the day, train in the evening, and study at night. The University of Newcastle were also flexible with my placements, which was great, as I was able to spend some time in Melbourne and Adelaide doing work experience”. Erin found work immediately after graduating. She met her husband, David, and then, at the age of 25, she opened her own podiatry business in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill. It was a strategic move. The business is growing as more and more athletes come to see Erin for anything from footwear advice to a complete bio-mechanical assessment, or pre-injury screening. “Preinjury screening is very important,” she says. “We can highlight areas of weakness and bring them into line before the injury occurs.” Erin has recovered from injury in the past so working with athletes to prevent the injury even occurring is an important aspect of her job.

I always knew I wanted to go into health sciences Erin Lorenzini-Todd “It’s difficult to step out of a demanding sport, spend time recovering and then find a way back in. If I can help prevent injuries in the first place, then I’m happy.” Erin’s clinic covers general podiatry, sports and paediatric podiatry as well as the vascular, neurological and dermatological components of the profession. A career in podiatry can be life changing, says Erin, as she dashes off to see another client, “but at the end of the day, it all comes down to providing the right support.”

Image used with permission from the Sydney Uni Flames Photographer: Tom Whitaker


issues such as childhood obesity and smoking. Since graduating with a PhD, he has worked with a number of internationally-recognised research institutions, including the UK Cochrane Centre and the World Health Organisation. In 2009, Luke was awarded a prestigious NSW Cancer Institute Fellowship.

LUKE WOLFENDEN Doctor of Philosophy 2006 Bachelor of Science (Honours) 2001 Bachelor of Science 2000 An academic career has given Luke Wolfenden the chance to make a significant contribution to the way we tackle health

He was also named as a state finalist for the NSW Government’s Young Achiever of the Year award, based on the excellence of his research evaluation work on Good for Kids, Good for Life – Australia’s largest childhood obesity prevention program.

Then, in 2009, she made the leap and enrolled at university in order to earn the degree she needed in order to begin working in her dream job in perioperative care – the care provided while a patient is receiving a surgical procedure. Bachelor of Nursing 2011 After working as a nurse for many years, it was completing a Bachelor of Nursing as a mature-age student that enabled Louise Hack to score her dream job in health care. Louise started working as an enrolled nurse

“I have always had a strong desire to work in the perioperative area and have had a keen interest in anaesthetics, which has been the driving force behind me becoming a registered nurse,” Louise said. Louise completed her degree last year at the Ourimbah campus and now works as a

when she finished high school at 17-yearsold. At 23, she decided to further her passion for oral health – and her career prospects – by undertaking a Bachelor of Oral Health at the University of Newcastle.

JENNIFER BLANCH Bachelor of Oral Health 2010

Luke said that the collaborative nature of his work with Hunter New England Population Health has ensured that his research is “practice relevant” and often translated into public health policy and practice. “Interventions I have developed have been broadly disseminated and can be expected to have had a positive health impact on the community,” he said.

Over the last five years, Luke has been awarded 17 research grants totalling more

after leaving school in the mid-80s. Later, she worked as a treatment room assistant and collector before returning to nursing in 2008.


than $8 million. Among them were projects aimed at improving the care available to people trying to quit smoking, reducing drug and alcohol use and improving the healthy eating and physical activity practices of childcare services, sporting clubs and community services.

Jennifer was a star pupil in the program. In 2011, she received a Dean’s Merit Award and a Golden Scaler Award for her outstanding achievements as a dental hygiene student.

Many of us have a lax attitude to oral health, but alumnus Jennifer Blanch is on a mission to improve awareness of and access to dental hygiene in our region.

After graduating, Jennifer secured a full-time position as an oral hygienist at Morrin Dental in Newcastle. One of her hopes is that the benefits of dental hygiene will become more widely available in the community.

Jennifer always had an interest in health care and took a position as a dental assistant

“I believe dental hygiene is an integral component of modern dentistry and I would

perioperative nurse at Wyong Hospital. She said she was very proud to have finished her degree as a mature-age student and the reward for all her effort was getting to work in an area she was truly passionate about. “I have found my ultimate career and a job I honestly love,” she said. Louise said she found the work so fulfilling because it enabled her to help other people. “The most rewarding part for me is when a patient recovers from their procedure and thanks me for the care I have given them in the immediate recovery phase, knowing they have had a positive experience,” she said. In the future, Louise hopes to work as a clinical nurse and educator.

like to see dental hygienists become a part of every dental surgery in the Newcastle region,” she said. “I would also like to see dental hygienists more involved in health promotion within schools, pre-schools and aged care facilities.” Jennifer said her work was rewarding because it gave her the opportunity to improve her clients’ quality of life. “Within the short window of time that I have been practicing, I have been witness to such positive outcomes from the care I have provided,” she said. “I love witnessing the excited responses from my patients as they see marked differences in their oral and general health from slight adjustments of their oral hygiene techniques.”



Bergskas at work and with her staff at the Guanabana factory in Bali

LOCAL DESIGNER ON WORLD STAGE Jennifer Hawkins, Serena Williams and Jessica Mauboy are among the celebrities snapped wearing pieces by Newcastle designer Linda Bergskas, who created her first designs while studying at University. Linda started designing and sewing clothes as part of her Bachelor of Visual Communication (Honours) studies, which she completed in 2005. The Norway-raised designer started selling the clothes locally at the time, but she never imagined her label – Guanabana – would end up appearing on runways across the country and around the world. “It was something I wanted to do my whole life, but I never thought it would be something I could make a career out of,” she said. Linda worked for a fashion agency in Sydney after completing her degree, but returned to Newcastle a year later to open her label’s now flagship store on Darby Street. “I was up here on a sales trip and I was on Darby Street and randomly one of the landlords saw me. He said the store was going to go on the market and I thought ‘I

don’t know why you’re telling me that’,” she laughed. “I looked at it and thought ‘I would love to have a shop.’ I rang him back that afternoon and said ‘I’ll take it’ and I resigned from my job the next day.” The gutsy designer had no luck booking appointments with fashion reps to discuss stocking her label, so she drove around the country and turned up on their doorsteps unannounced. In less than two months, she had 80 bookings. Since then, Linda has hired a number of full-time staff and set up the label’s manufacturing operations in Bali, where she now lives part-time. Today, Guanabana is stocked in over 100 stores in Australia, Japan, the United States and Norway, including famous department store Barneys New York and high-end fashion store Kitson. Linda said many people were shocked to hear that she runs such a successful label from Newcastle, rather than Sydney or Melbourne, but she says she wouldn’t have it

any other way. “I can’t imagine running a business in Sydney – half the day is spent in traffic,” she said. “Here in Newcastle, everything is easy because everything is around the corner – nothing is time-consuming. I can have time to socialise and everything as well. It’s more manageable.” The balance between work and social life is even more important to Linda since recently giving birth to her first child. “My priorities have changed a little bit,” she said. “I’m pretty content where I am.” While she attributes her success as a designer to seven years of “working around the clock”, Linda says the long hours were made more bearable by the fact that fashion had “been a hobby more than a job”. “There have been ups and downs and it’s extremely challenging at times too. At the same I love it so much I couldn’t imagine doing something else.”


EWAN MCEOIN Bachelor of Applied Science (Environment Assessment and Management) 1994 Creative director, publisher, editor and curator are among Ewan McEoin’s diverse array of job titles, but the consistent undercurrent in his work is a desire to implement sustainable practices. At first, it is a little surprising to learn that Ewan graduated from a Bachelor of Applied Science and then spent the best part of the next 20 years working in the arts, publishing and design sectors. Ewan admitted his career trajectory was probably a little different to most science students and, indeed, not quite what he initially envisioned. “Yeah, I thought when I graduated that I was going to go off and tag and release animals in the wilderness. I didn’t do that. I probably regret it sometimes,” he joked. In truth, Ewan is more than happy with the way things have turned out because his work has allowed him to have a significant impact on the way the design sector approaches sustainability (which is where the background in science comes in handy). After starting out as a writer and editor for design magazines, including a seven-year stint as editor of Australian Design Review, Ewan also lectured in design at RMIT, served on a number of design advisory boards and even appeared as a judge on ABC’s New Inventors. Before long, he was organising a number of the big-name design events in Australia, including Victoria’s State of Design Festival and Queensland’s Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific initiative.

KIM ELLIS Bachelor of Science 2000 The International Space University might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but for Kim Ellis, it was actually the stuff of dreams. Even better, it is now the stuff of reality for Kim – a “closet” space enthusiast – who recently won an award entitling her to spend 10 weeks working at the world-renowned university, as well as the NASA Kennedy Space Centre. Kim, a professional scientist, first developed an interest in space science and technology after visiting the illustrious space centre 20 years ago. Back then, the mother of two – who is now in her final year of a graduate law degree – never imagined she would go on to work with some of the world’s top space scientists. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2000 and began her career as an industrial chemist for Rio Tinto and BHP, before a fortuitous redundancy lead her to re-evaluate her professional life. After the job loss, Kim undertook a recruitment course that inspired her to turn her long-time passion into a profession. Since then, she has gone on to make her mark in the highly competitive and challenging field of international space research. The last two years have been particularly rewarding for Kim, beginning with a successful application to study with some of the best in her field at the headquarters of the International Space University in France.

Ewan said the events were aimed at finding ways the design sector could provide sustainable solutions and shape a brighter future.

This year, after winning an Australian Government Endeavour Executive Award, she has returned to the university – although this time at a US campus, and as a teacher, rather than a student.

“They’re about finding ways to help the design industry move forward as an industry, rather than talking about moving forward,” he said.

Kim’s stint in the US – running until mid-August – will include working as a Deputy Academic Coordinator and lecturing on space policy and law.

The shift in focus is a sign of things to come for Ewan, whose future plan is to do for the Australian produce industry what he has done in the design sector.

Her other professional involvements include a position as the workgroup lead for the Australasian Alumni of the International Space University and memberships to the Space Industry Association and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

“I want to figure out what needs to change in that whole sector to help small Australian producers to grow their businesses and be more sustainable,” he said.

Through her company Earth Space Tech Kim also provides a range of technical consulting and communication services for community, government and private organisations.



SUPERSIZE ME? EARLY ORIGINS OF A LIFE OF OBESITY The 2012 Alumni Lecture attracted a full house, at City Hall on Wednesday 14 March. The recently appointed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen deconstructed the sophisticated science behind how the health and nutrition of a mother may alter the metabolic health of her children. Professor McMillen drew a picture for the audience of outcomes from experimental studies of the potential metabolic benefits and costs of weight loss during the period around conception in overweight and obese mothers for the next generation. Maternal obesity is associated with an increase in the risk of the development of obesity for her baby extending through infancy, childhood and later life. There are therefore concerns that we may be facing the emergence of an ‘intergenerational cycle of obesity’. This topic attracted a broad spectrum of community members and health professionals who were left so engaged with the implications of the research outcomes, that the Q&A session from the floor had to be reigned in after a fascinating further half hour. The Public Lecture series is open to all and offers a diverse set of topics throughout the year. In 2012, the series will close on October 19 with the Barton Lecture to be given by the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull – for details of all the lectures, explore online at public-lectures/

As a biomedical researcher, Professor McMillen is internationally recognised for her work into the impact of the nutritional environment before birth on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and obesity in adult life. The Alumni Lecture is held annually to showcase the expertise of a newly appointed professor of the University, and is hosted by the President of Alumni and his/her Executive Committee of Alumni.

Are You Keeping up? Keep up-to-date with our e-Business Marketing Course Learn how to effectively market your business in the new digital age 6 week course Delivered 100% online Taught by an Industry Expert No exams or assignments Study when and where it suits you

neXT CourSe STArTS Soon. LiMiTeD pLACeS.

regiSTer noW


• • • • •



A GREATER LIFE THROUGH GIVING BACK A fortunate life and a successful career have motivated Greater Building Society CEO Don Magin to give back to the University and to the community. Don started his career in the IT department at BHP in the mid-1970s and worked in the same field at the Greater for two decades, before being promoted to CEO four years ago. After taking the reins, Don spearheaded the building society’s highlypublicised television advertising campaign featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Don said the campaign proved very successful for the building society and he considers it a highlight of his career to date. “When I took over I was looking to raise the Greater’s profile and position us as an alternative to the major banks, so Jerry Seinfeld created a bit more attention,” he said. While Don has dedicated much of his time to his work, he is also passionate about “giving something back to the community”. One such commitment is his position as a Director of Heal for Life Foundation, an organisation that aims to help heal victims of childhood trauma. “Quite often, people who go to Heal for Life are at the verge of committing suicide because they’re in such a state from the trauma that they experienced. And it has consequences all through their life,” he said. Don graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Mathematics and a Graduate Diploma in Management in 1995 from the university. In 2010, Don was elected by his graduate peers to the University’s Executive Committee of Alumni. He said his tertiary education had played a key role in his professional success, so he felt a responsibility to “give back to the university and those students who follow.” “Mainly I’m involved in attending regular Executive Committee of Alumni meetings to discuss the opportunities the Committee can undertake to provide advantages and connections for the alumni and how we might make a difference for students who follow us,” he said.

Don is working on a couple of projects that particularly inspire him. “The University already has Alumni chapters and activity around the world, but we are very excited to offer a Hunter Chapter to our regional graduates to be launched later this year,” Don said. The varied program will include the annual Alumni Awards gala dinner at City Hall - which sees international alumni join the event – and a mix of events which allow learning from very successful alumni, leadership and thought enquiry, and also events which will allow for social and professional interaction with alumni peers. Don is also leading a sub-committee which is looking at acquiring a physical building as an Alumni House which the Committee believes could provide a unique centre the Hunter. “There are alumni and students who are comedians, artists, actors, fashion designers, musicians, philosophers, theologians, historians – to name but a few – imagine what could happen in such a place and the thought leadership that could emerge” he said. Did you know a Newcastle alum, Gary Quinlan, is Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations? That two of our young graduate engineers led the structural design for the famous ‘Watercube’ for the Beijing Olympics? The list goes on and we need to showcase some of what this city and our University has produced.” This man is excited about the possibilities. Juggling a demanding job with a number of community service commitments is a challenging task, but Don believes people have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to society. “I think all organisations, whether the organisations themselves or the CEOs really do have an obligation to give something back to the community… Giving back helps improve and enhance my own outlook on life,” he said. At the end of a long day at the office, Don likes to unwind by cooking dinner each night for himself and his wife. “It’s the indicator to me that the day’s work’s over,” he said. “It’s amazing how that takes your mind from work into a new space and it helps you leave work behind until the next day.”



PRESIDENT OF SINGAPORE ALUMNI CHAPTER MARRIES IN INDIA Kaushik Bhanushal who graduated with a Master of Business Administration in 2007 married Khushbu in December 2011. He shares photos from their traditional Indian wedding ceremony and reception. Congratulations from the Alumni Network!

Malaysian Airline Captain and recipient of the 2011 Alumni Award for Regional Leadership, Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin is pleased to welcome baby Leila Iman to his family, pictured here with Faiz and her big sister Alesha.

The inaugural Port Macquarie Alumni Reception was held on Thursday 23 February 2012 at the Rydges Hotel. With nearly 100 alumni there to celebrate, the event saw graduates living and working in the Port Macquarie area meet new Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen and catch up over drinks and canapés.

Back to Campus On Thursday 29 March 2012, final year engineering students were treated to advice from Bachelor of Engineering graduates who returned to speak at an Alumni Advantage Breakfast. ‘Build strong networks’, ‘always be a team player’ and ‘ be passionate about your work’ were some of the tips passed on to the students as they look to start their careers. Returning alumni speakers included (left to right); Mr Alex Errock (2012) - Process Engineer, Newcastle Iron Recovery Plant Ms Sharon O’Rourke (1993) - Senior Process Engineer, Industrial Minerals, HATCH Ms Kim van Netten (2011) - PhD Candidate, University of Newcastle Ms Belinda Grealy (1998) - Northern Operations Manager, Pacific National Mr David Cork (1991) - Technical Director, The Corkys Group

DID YOU KNOW? In late 2011 Newcastle graduates cleaned up at the Australia China Alumni Awards winning 4 of 9 categories, competing against all graduates of all Australian universities, living and working in China. Read more at


ALUMNI IN PRINT UNDER THE EDGE - THE ARCHITECTURE OF PETER STUTCHBURY By alumnus Peter Stutchbury Bachelor of Architecture 1979 Under the Edge showcases the work of leading Australian architect, alumnus and Professor of Architecture, Peter Stutchbury and brings his work to a greater audience. Stutchbury, in his own words and pictures, explains the underpinnings of his philosophy and practice. A collection of ‘Projects in Brief’ covers seminal works of his early practice. Fourteen major recent ‘Projects in Detail’ are presented, none of which have been previously published, with explanatory texts, sketches, plans and new photography. This is the first book to be published by the Architecture Foundation Australia under the guidance of former Dean of Architecture Associate Professor Lindsay Johnston. The book was edited by alumnus Ewan McEoin. Available online at - - and through leading book stores.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE By alumnus Russell Blackford Doctor of Philosophy 1983; Graduate Diploma In Education 1978; Bachelor Of Arts 1977 Freedom of Religion and the Secular State deals with many of the hot-button issues that arise when religion and politics meet. It examines the nature of religion and secularism, offering a philosophical and historical perspective. Among other things, it presents a strong case for freedom of speech, including the freedom to criticize religion or particular religions. Available online at

THE FIELD GUIDE TO VICTORIAN PRODUCE By alumnus Ewan McEoin Bachelor of Applied Science (Environment Assessment and Management) 1994 The Field Guide to Victorian Produce is the first comprehensive guide to Victoria’s regional produce and the people that grow, make and sell it. The Guide is a valuable addition to the Victorian food sector - a much needed resource and a practical tool, revealing the fantastic produce accessible from Victoria’s small farms and independent producers, encouraging chefs and foodies to go to the source and to share their knowledge. The first in a new series of guidebooks to be edited by McEoin.

THE LAST THREAD By alumnus Michael Sala Doctor of Philosophy 2012; Master Of Creative Arts 2004; Bachelor Of Arts (Honours) 1999; Graduate Diploma In Education 1998; Bachelor Of Arts 1998 The Last Thread is Michael Sala’s fascinating life in fiction. From his early years in the Netherlands to growing up in Australia during the 1980s, Michael recalls the secret surrounding his estranged Greek father and how scandalous events from the past fractured his family. This is a moving chronicle of a boy’s turbulent relationship with his bullying stepfather, aloof older brother and adored mother, whose cheerful apathy has devastating consequences. As his life unfolds, Michael – now a father – must decide if he can free himself from the dark pull of the past.

CUSTOMER DELIGHT: STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FOR THE BUSINESS OWNER By alumnus Alain Guillemain Master of Business Administration 2006 Customer Delight yields gems of insight into the psychology of business success as well as practical advice on business operations. Guillemain has taken great care to ensure the book is engaging, informative and useful to those who run companies. It is a must-have every market leader in an age of increasing competition and elevated customer expectations. Guillemain is using the innovative new self-publishing tool – utilising crowd funding for creative individuals, groups and organisations.


Alumni shaping futures When Synthia Lau, 1996 Bachelor of Commerce graduate attended the inaugural Melbourne Alumni function last year and reconnected with other graduates and senior staff from the University – it started a new journey for her. Hearing about the University and its progress was great, but when Synthia heard of some of the challenges of the students today – it became a heart thing. Synthia wanted to do something that would make a difference. “I was really touched by the students’ stories, “ Synthia says, I really wanted to give back - being a graduate made it very personal for me. I could relate and empathise”. Being able to help someone in life, in a way to which I feel so connected, is just a humble token of my appreciation for the education I received from the University of Newcastle.” If we all pull together, we can make a difference and show that we care.” The perfect way to give back for Synthia proved to be through the 2011 Annual Appeal which allowed for the establishment of the Shaping Futures scholarships for disadvantaged students. Donations came from far and wide – the majority from alumni. Single mum, Lorraine Elwell, was one of the fortunate winners of the $4,000 helping hand. She was able to pay for a carer to look after her severely ill son for a few hours a week, allowing much needed time and energy to focus on her studies. Daniel Frost suffers from a disability that makes handwriting extremely painful. The Business student used his scholarship to buy a laptop. He is already well on his way to success, having come out of his first

year of university on top, passing all eight of his courses just off a Distinction average. Lisa Whitten’s scholarship is helping a whole family with the money going toward supporting herself and the four little girls she is the sole foster carer for. Challenges like financial hardship, disability, health problems and family issues can all mean the difference between completing a degree and dropping out for an increasing number of students – this year applications for the Shaping Futures scholarships doubled. The University of Newcastle Foundation hope to grow the number of scholarships on offer and make a powerful difference in the lives of our most needy students Alumni have the opportunity to donate to the 2012 Annual appeal Make a difference where it matters most Donate online at

A sporting chance When asked what she would like to say to those who made her scholarships possible, she doesn’t hesitate – “Thank you and keep it up”. “Uni students struggle, especially those in sport. I’d like to see more scholarships for women in sport in particular. They could really benefit.” The scholarship Rebecca won is one of only ten sports scholarships offered by the University of Newcastle. One of these was established by community group, Friends of the University. Friends president and graduate, Dr Vic Levi, said the group had felt sports students weren’t recognised enough and that there was a lack of scholarships for them. “I think sport is incredibly important. It keeps the body fit and mind active. It’s also an invaluable part of university life. Sport breaks down all barriers. Rebecca Smyth knows what it is like to feel valued. The Dunedoo-born alum completed her Bachelor of Teaching and Bachelor of Health and Physical Education in 2007. She was the recipient of the University Undergraduate Sports Scholarship in 2004 and 2006. “Winning the scholarships definitely made a huge difference. I felt I’d been recognised for my achievements and it gave me a real confidence boost. Currently in the process of moving to Narramine to teach in Dubbo, the 27-year old has her hands full juggling work, life and a second baby on the way. “Now that I have to pay my own way, I realise even more how much it helped,” she said.

“Establishing a sports scholarship was the best thing we could do. It’s a wonderful payback. It is such a thrill to see deserving students make a mark for themselves,” he said. The Friends hold a book fair every second year to raise money for their scholarship. If you are interested in supporting sports students, you can contribute to a scholarship or even establish your own. The University Foundation, Chief Executive Officer, Louise O’Connell, says you can request feedback on the recipient’s progress and stay in touch. “Quite a few of our alumni donors do this and really enjoy seeing how their scholarship is transforming a life,” she said.


ALUMNI EVENT DIARY JUNE – DECEMBER 2012 Make sure your contact details are up to date to receive your invitation to Alumni events.

JUNE Newcastle Friday 15 June Alumni Awards nominations close. Melbourne Friday 22 June Melbourne Alumni Reception Central Coast Thursday 28 June Friday 29 June Ourimbah Graduation Ceremony graduation/

JULY Sydney Wednesday 18 July Sydney Alumni Reception Newcastle Thursday 26 July Chancellor’s Installation Ceremony Newcastle Tuesday 31 July School of Psychology Alumni Advantage Breakfast

AUGUST Newcastle Wednesday 1 August Public Lecture Series - Health Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Oration Speaker - Professor Leon Flicker John Hunter Hospital, 6.15pm for 6.30pm start Newcastle Wednesday 8 August Canberra Alumni Reception Newcastle Tuesday 14 August Medicine and Public Health Alumni Advantage Breakfast Newcastle Tuesday 14 August Public Lecture Series Society & Health Lecture Speaker – Hon. Cheryl Kernot Topic – “Challenging the orthodoxy! Social Entrepreneurs and Business with a Social Purpose” Newcastle City Hall 5.45pm for 6pm start See the Event Calendar for further 2012 events

Newcastle Friday 24 August Mechanical Engineering & Mechatronics Dinner Newcastle Club 6.30pm


Newcastle Tuesday 28 August Biomedical Science and Pharmacy Alumni Advantage Breakfast

Newcastle Wednesday 17 October 2012 Alumni Awards Newcastle City Hall 6.45pm for 7pm start

Newcastle Friday 31 August Public Lecture Series Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture Speaker - Dr Anne Summers Griffith Duncan Theatre, 1pm

SEPTEMBER Newcastle Friday 7 September The Forum and University Sports Awards London Saturday 8 September London Alumni Reception Shanghai, China Saturday 15 September ACAA Alumni Awards Gala event

ACAA The University is a partner of the Australia-China Alumni Association. Graduates based in China are welcome to join the association (ACAA) and to attend their regular events.

Newcastle Thursday 20 September Public Lecture Series - History John Turner Memorial Lecture Speaker - Dr Michael Ondaatje Topic – “Clinging to Guns and God: Political Conservatism in the Age of Obama” Newcastle City Hall 5.45pm for 6pm start

Hunter Hunter Alumni Chapter Launch Thursday 27 September Register your interest at

Newcastle Thursday 4 October Friday 5 October Callaghan Graduation Ceremonies graduation/

Newcastle Friday 19 October Public Lecture Series - Politics Barton Lecture Speaker - The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Newcastle City Hall 5.45pm for 6pm start Newcastle Friday 26 October Executive Committee of Alumni Annual General Meeting To be part of the committee and represent your alumni community, register your interest at Isabella’s Restaurant, 6.00pm

NOVEMBER Singapore Saturday 17 November Alumni Dinner Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Malaysia Sunday 18 November Malaysia Alumni Reception Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong Wednesday 21 November Graduation Ceremony and Alumni Dinner Hotel Icon

For more information on the Public Lecture Series visit


Remember to let everyone know your new address, and to update your details with us!



External Relations has a brand new home located in the refurbished Industry Development Centre. On University Drive at the Callaghan Campus, it is convenient and easy to find.

See the new Alumni Achievers webpage celebrating the activities of graduates both in Australia and around the world.

The Alumni and Corporate Relations office is a part of this group and we invite you to come in and visit us!

External Relations

If you, or a graduate you know, has an interesting story, let us know by emailing

WE WELCOME YOUR VIEWS The University’s Alumni Relations team welcomes your views on this magazine, and invites you to submit articles and/or profiles for consideration for publication in future editions. Alumni Relations Email us at or call +61 2 4921 7454 Find us on Facebook:

Find us on LinkedIn: University of Newcastle Alumni, Australia

Follow us on Twitter:

Pictures of events and chapter details are available on

Business and Research Development T +61 4921 6064 Community Partnerships T +61 2 4921 8612 Office for the Advancement of Engaged Learning T +61 2 4921 5589 University of Newcastle Foundation T +61 2 4921 7453

UoN 2012/KKG13037 | CRICOS Provider 00109J


It is always a pleasure to see our Alumni, and also our corporate and community friends and partners.

Be part of the story telling!

Alumni Magazine Edition 1, 2012  

The University of Newcastle's Alumni Magazine aims to be a source of inspiration and encourage our alumni to others to create a strong globa...