2021 Alumni Awards

Federation University recognised 11 outstanding graduates in the 2021 Alumni Awards. The Awards formally recognise their achievements within their chosen field of study and beyond.

Watch the 2021 Alumni Awards virtual event and Acknowledgement to Country.

The recipients are:

2021 Alumnus of the YearJustin Mohamed

Justin Mohamed

Field of Study: Business

Nomination Category: Outstanding service to the community

Justin Mohamed is a Gooreng Gooreng man who graduated from University of Ballarat with a Diploma of Management in 2002. He has a strong leadership background in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, social justice and reconciliation, holding national and international directorship and leadership positions throughout his career, including his appointment to Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria in 2018. Justin has represented Aboriginal Australians and contributed towards improving their overall health and wellbeing at all levels of government, forging true partnerships with allies and key stakeholders.

Watch Justin's acceptance speech or Read more

2021 Alumna of the YearJaz Flowers

Jaz Flowers

Field of Study: Performing Arts

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Jaz Flowers graduated from the University of Ballarat with a Bachelor of Arts (Musical Theatre) in 2008 and has consistently garnered roles in theatre and stage productions to critical acclaim including a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical and Helpmann Award nominations. She has sung at the State of Origin, the Australian Open grand final and appeared as a contestant on the TV show The Voice. In 2014 Jaz sung on London’s West End and in the BBC production of Kiss Me Kate in The Royal Albert Hall which was televised on Christmas Day. Jaz has built a successful career both nationally and internationally, and runs Jaz Flowers Performing Arts school in Morwell, inspiring young people in regional Victoria to pursue careers in the performing arts.

Watch Jaz's acceptance speech or Read more

2021 International Alumnus of the Year  Dallas Cuddy

Dallas Cuddy

Field of Study: Cookery

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Award-winning chef Dallas Cuddy has worked in the world’s most renowned restaurants. Graduating with a Certificate III in Cookery in 1998, he won ‘Best Apprentice’ multiple times then worked quickly through the ranks of the kitchen, before moving to London to work at Michelin Star restaurants. On his return to Australia, Dallas joined Botanical, which won the prestigious ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award. In 2007 he won The Age Good Food Guide ‘Young Chef of the Year’ at Verge, and in 2012 was crowned inaugural ‘Best New Chef 2017’ at Thailand Tatler’s restaurant awards. In 2019 Dallas joined the team of Park Hyatt Shenzen as Executive Chef.

Watch Dallas' acceptance speech or Read more

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alumnus ofRonald Edwards-Pepper the Year

Ronald Edwards-Pepper

Field of Study: Visual Arts

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding service to Federation University or its predecessor institutions; Outstanding service to the community

Ronald Edwards-Pepper is an artist, educator and well-known Indigenous community member in the Gippsland region who graduated with a Bachelor of Visual and Media Arts in 2017. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Australia and overseas with his work in galleries and private collections across the country. Ronald is a proud Gunai Kurnai man and his art tells the stories of his ancestors and aims to teach others about the land they walk on. He promotes his culture and history through workshops, talks and education and by performing ceremonies across Gippsland.

Watch Ronald's acceptance speech or Read more

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alumna of theDeanne Gilson Year

Deanne Gilson

Field of Study: Visual Arts/Teaching

Nomination Category: Outstanding academic or research achievement; Outstanding service to the community

Dr Deanne Gilson is a proud Wadawurrung woman, award-winning visual artist and cultural educator. Graduating with a Diploma of Education in 2012, a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Arts) Honours in 2009, 2010 and a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Art & Craft in 2011. Recently completing a Masters of Arts at Deakin University in 2015 and a Doctor of Philosophy Reclaiming Aboriginal Women’s Business Through Contemporary Art, Deakin University 2021. Her commitment to engage with traditional cultural practices, community and Country, through education workshops and art are core to her practice.

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2021 Alumni Award for Community ServiceIan Gibson

Ian Gibson

Field of Study: Economics

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding service to Federation University or its predecessor institutions; Outstanding service to the community

Ian has a long history with Federation University and its predecessor institutions after graduating with his first degree from Monash University, a Bachelor of Economics, in 1968. He is a valued ambassador for both the University and higher education in Gippsland. Over the past forty years he has actively served his region through various board, committee, and local community organisation roles including as Chairperson, Community Advisory Group on the Star of the South Offshore Wind Project. Ian is an exemplary conduit between community, local government and industry. His sustained leadership and involvement demonstrate his dedication to the region and people.

Watch Ian's acceptance speech and Read more

2021 Alumni Award for Community Service

Jennifer BeerJennifer Beer

Field of Study: Business/Teaching

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding academic or research achievement; Outstanding service to Federation University or its predecessor institutions; Outstanding service to the community

Aunty Jennifer Beer is a traditional owner, Aboriginal elder, and passionate education advocate who has been fundamental in the recovery of Wergaia Language in the Wimmera region of Victoria. First graduating from the University of Ballarat in 2001, Jennifer began her career in education, promoting a better understanding of First Nations people, before serving as a member of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council for ten years. Aunty Jennifer is Board Member and language sub-committee Chair of Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) where she contributed to Land Title claim success in a 2005 Native Title Consent Determination, the first in south-eastern Australia.

Watch Jennifer's acceptance speech and Read more

Distinguished Alumnus 

Graeme DrendelGraeme Drendel

Field of Study: Arts

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Graeme Drendel is a key Australian figurative painter and printmaker who graduated from Ballarat Teachers College in 1972. He has sustained a full-time artistic career for over forty years building a strong reputation nationally and internationally as a significant contemporary artist. Recognised for his intelligent observations of the human condition, Graeme’s art invites contemplation and reveals the humour of everyday life. Throughout his career Graeme has been a finalist in the prestigious Archibald Prize on numerous occasions; and been shortlisted for the ‘Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize’; and the Doug Moran National Portraiture Prize amongst others. His work features in numerous collections across Australia.

Watch Graeme's acceptance speech and Read more

Distinguished Alumnus 

Murray GillinMurray Gillin

Field of Study: Metallurgy

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding academic or research achievement

Murray Gillin is celebrated for his work in engineering, innovation, and professional education. Graduating with a Diploma of Metallurgy from the School of Mines, Ballarat, in 1956, Murray spent 25 years with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. At Swinburne University of Technology he was Pro Vice-Chancellor, and Dean of Engineering. Other notable roles included Director, Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, founder and chair of Ausentrepreneurs Sans Frontieres; and President of the Institution of Engineers Australia. In 1997 Murray was awarded Member of the Order of Australia and in 2014 he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ACE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange.

Watch Murray's acceptance speech and Read more

Distinguished Alumnus  

Neil Terrill OAMNeil Terrill

Field of Study: Chemistry

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding academic or research achievement; Outstanding service to Federation University or its predecessor institutions; Outstanding service to the community

Neil Terrill was one of the founders of the now Gippsland campus of Federation University, motivated by a strong belief that quality education should be available outside the cities. Neil completed a Diploma of Applied Chemistry at Yallourn Technical College before working as an Industrial Chemist, and teacher. In 1966, he was appointed Head of the Department of Chemistry at Yallourn Technical College which became the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education (GIAE). In 1985 he took on the role of Deputy Director of GIAE. Neil also held leadership roles in The Royal Australian Chemical Institute and The Australian Institute of Energy. In 2008 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for Services to Conservation and the Environment of Gippsland.

Watch Neil's acceptance speech and Read more

Distinguished Alumnus (posthumously)

Dennis Spielvogel

Field of Study: Teaching

Nomination Category: Outstanding service to the communityDennis Spielvogel

Dennis Spielvogel (Spiv) was known for his energy and passion for community, history, and people. He graduated from the State College of Victoria, Ballarat with a Diploma of Teaching in 1973. Dennis taught throughout Victoria and in Canada and left a lasting impact on the lives of his students and colleagues. He exemplified community spirit and volunteered for almost fifty years. He was a member of the Sovereign Hill Gold Museum Society; the Central Highlands Historical Society; the Heritage Advisory Committee for the Moorabool Shire; the CFA; and the Bungaree Historical Society where he was President for 21 years. In 2007 Dennis was awarded Moorabool Shire’s Citizen of the Year and in 2013 he was awarded the Catherine King Award for Service for his service to Bungaree Primary School. Dennis died in 2020.

Watch Veronica, Dennis' wife's, acceptance speech and Read more