University of Newcastle Alumni Awards 2017 celebrate Hunter-grown success

WALKLEY award-winning Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy has been named in a cohort comprising scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers and a homegrown actress, who have been celebrated at the 2017 University of Newcastle Alumni Awards.

The 42nd annual awards, which were presented on Friday night, highlighted achievements and contributions across nine categories and drew from 135,000 alumni working in 139 countries.

Internationally recognised social scientist and director of two research centres Professor Carla Treloar won the major award, the Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence.

Her work has informed clinical, policy and community programs to provide hepatitis C patients with better access to care and support to understand treatment options.

Dr McCarthy received the Exceptional Community Service Award for her reporting, which the university said “transcends traditional journalism to extraordinary depths of advocacy”.

Dr McCarthy started writing about child sexual abuse in Hunter institutions in 2006. 

Her coverage of the issue won her many accolades, including the Gold Walkley Award in 2013, and was cited as contributing to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to launch a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2012. 

Early Career Research Fellow at the Hunter Medical Research Institute Dr Andrew Bivard was named the Beryl Nashar Young Researcher, for his work on imaging and treatment of strokes. 

Actor Susie Porter received the Newton-John Alumni Award for her ongoing 20 year career that has included lead and supporting roles in more than 20 films, 39 television series and 11 theatre productions, in Australia and abroad.

Leading academic Dr Xanthe Spindler and immunologist and microbiologist Dr Malcolm Starkey were named joint winners of the Young Alumni Award. 

Dr Spindler has a strong international profile in fingerprint sciences and Dr Starkey’s work is contributing to understanding early-life impairment of the immune system.

Allied health specialist Associate Professor Aunty Kerrie Doyle won the Indigenous Leadership Award.

Director of UON’s Department of Rural Health, Professor Jenny May AM, won the Regional Leadership Award. 

Chief economist and former executive director of The Australia Institute, Dr Richard Denniss, received the National Leadership Award. 

Former CSIRO Chief Research Scientist, Professor Bryson Bates, won the International Leadership Award.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the awards celebrated the leadership of graduates who inspired others through their achievements.