2020 Alumni Awards winners announced

Federation University has recognised 13 outstanding graduates in the 2020 Alumni Awards. The Awards formally recognise their achievements within their chosen field of study and beyond.

For the first time Alumnus of the Year and Alumna of the Year awards were presented for both Ballarat and Gippsland campuses. A new category was also introduced with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alumni Award, also presented for Ballarat and Gippsland graduates.

The recipients are:

2020 Alumna of the Year (Gippsland)

Mary Aldred

Field of Study: Business

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Mary Aldred is passionate about the Gippsland region and seeing its economic and social progress. She has been instrumental in securing state and federal funding for significant projects in the area particularly through her roles as Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Committee Gippsland where she provided a united voice for the region.  Mary has extensive governance and senior executive experience, sitting on numerous boards and advisory committees. Mary was awarded the Australian Financial Review Boss Magazine Young Executive Winner in 2018.

2020 Alumnus of the Year (Gippsland)

Keith Hamilton

Field of Study: Education

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

The Hon. Keith Hamilton’s long and distinguished career has been dedicated to the promotion and pursuit of excellence in education, public service, and service to the community.  After teaching for many years Keith took up a career in public office. He served as the State Member for Morwell in the Victorian Legislative Assembly for 14 years. Since leaving politics Keith continued his service to the community on boards, committees and task-forces.  Keith Hamilton’s leadership, integrity, and compassion in his public positions have led to many innovations and advancements for the community and for the state of Victoria.

2020 Alumnus of the Year (Ballarat)

David Noonan

Field of Study: Art

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

One of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists, David Noonan has shown at some of the world’s most prestigious art venues with his work attracting the attention of influential international curators and collectors. Producing works in a range of media, David’s work involves a complex layering of historical and cultural references.  David has undertaken art residencies internationally with his artwork shown in over 15 countries and included in biennials, biennales and triennials worldwide. David’s work is held in numerous international public collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; and MOMA, New York.

2020 Alumna of the Year (Ballarat)

Leigh Russell

Field of Study: Teaching

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Leigh Russell is an executive, director and elite sports leader passionate about developing the next generation of female leaders. Working in high performance environments across Australia Leigh was the first woman to hold a senior executive position within an AFL club; the youngest CEO appointed in Netball Victoria’s history and the first woman Chief Executive Officer of Swimming Australia. Leigh is a sought-after speaker and mentor and has co-authored books on leadership, career and wellness skills for women and girls. She is a media commentator and subject expert on topics such as psychology in sport, diversity in sport, leadership and career coaching.

2020 International Alumnus of the Year  

Sanjay Bharwani

Field of Study: Technology

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Sanjay Bharwani is a highly sought-after business leader with experience in transforming large and complex companies across various sectors. He has built an outstanding career in banking and corporate consultancy with roles at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and major information technology and finance companies including Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest bank. In 2019 Sanjay founded Bester & Co., a business performance improvement consultancy firm. Sanjay is frequently consulted by numerous private sector and government agencies on organisation and digital transformation subjects.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alumna (Gippsland)

Christine Johnson

Field of Study: Education

Nomination Category: Outstanding service to the community

Christine Johnson is a proud Gunai Kurnai woman who in her role as an Education Engagement Worker with The Smith Family has directed the Aboriginal Parent and Community Engagement project. The project transitions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from primary to secondary and from mid-secondary to senior secondary, supporting parents in participating in educational support workshops, and improving student attendance.  Christine’s commitment to education and her support of Indigenous families to remain engaged around their children's education has achieved positive outcomes for families and the wider community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alumna (Ballarat)

Jodie Sizer

Field of Study: Commerce

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding service to the community

Jodie Sizer is a Djab Wurrung and Gunditjimara woman and one of Australia’s foremost Indigenous leaders. She is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers Indigenous Consulting. Through this initiative the world’s largest consulting firm has developed a genuine business partnership with the world’s oldest living culture. Jodie holds leadership roles including Chairperson of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), only the second female Chairperson of the Institute; and at the Collingwood Football Club, where she became the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed to an AFL board. Jodie has been a finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Award; inducted on the Victorian Honour Roll of Women; a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Centenary medal and listed as one of the Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence.

Distinguished Alumnus 

Barry Dunstan

Field of Study: Education

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

Barry Dunstan has worked to promote and inspire the Gippsland community through his roles in education, management, and the scientific world. He has a long association with Federation University and considerable experience in consulting and conducting research in a wide range of energy issues. Throughout his career Barry has occupied senior roles including President at the Australian Institute of Energy; Council member and Chairman of Central Gippsland College of Technical and Further Education; and Chairman of the Latrobe Valley Task Force. Barry has been awarded Fellowship of three professional societies: the Australian Institute of Energy; the Royal Australian Chemical Institute; and the Australian Institute of Management.

Distinguished Alumna 

Merle Hathaway

Field of Study: Arts

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement; Outstanding service to the community

Merle Hathaway has made a significant contribution to the creative arts in Ballarat and regional Victoria including a long association with the Art Gallery of Ballarat and as Director of Horsham Regional Art Gallery. Always at the forefront of creative arts movements she has been involved in the founding and establishment of numerous organisations and events promoting artists’ work including the Horsham Regional Arts Association. Merle has held leadership and board roles at the Public Galleries Association of Victoria; Cultural Tourism Industry Victoria; and various tourism boards around the state, amongst others. Merle Hathaway has an incomparable enthusiasm, energy and skill for curating and organising arts events and remarkable passion for the arts, with a focus on education and community.

Distinguished Alumna 

Rosie King

Field of Study: Business

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Rosie King is one of the most influential women in Australian sport. She was the first woman to serve as Acting CEO of Geelong Football Club; was winner of the 2018 Victorian Sports Administrator of the Year; received the highest funding commitment from government for female facilities in Australia's history; and is Chief Executive at Netball Victoria. Rosie has held senior management roles in the commercial, not-for-profit and government sectors and served on executive boards and committees for Paralympics Australia, Australian Paralympic Committee and the State Netball Hockey Centre Advisory Committee. Rosie is an innovator and change maker who has transformed organisations to become highly functioning and successful workplaces of choice.

Distinguished Alumnus  

Ian Nethercote

Field of Study: Engineering

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

Ian Nethercote has made a major contribution to the Gippsland region and the development of national energy policy and institutions. As Chief Executive of Loy Yang Power he was responsible for Victoria's largest power generation facility and largest open cut mine in the Southern Hemisphere. Ian has served on numerous energy and policy related national committees. In 2004 Ian was awarded the Australian Institute of Management Award of Excellence, and in 2010 was awarded the Sir Willis Connolly Memorial Medal for contributions to the Energy Sector and Mining Industry. Ian served on the Federation University Council from 2014 to 2019.  In 2018 Ian was awarded Member of the Order of Australia. Ian Nethercote is recognised nationally across the political spectrum and the energy industry for his significant input to energy and his keen advocacy for research and development to expand the opportunities for the natural resources of Gippsland.

Distinguished Alumnus

John Sullivan

Field of Study: Engineering

Nomination Category: Outstanding professional achievement

John Sullivan is a global automotive engineer who has spent his career designing motor vehicles concentrating on improving their safety performance. Commencing work with the Ford Motor Company in Geelong he rose to the top of Ford globally working in senior roles for many years before moving to Tata Motors, India’s largest car manufacturer.  John’s career highlights include designing and delivering the first five-star NCAP vehicle in Europe, the establishment of new Ford facilities in China and Thailand, and the development of four of Tata Motors’ new global cars. In 2005 John was named in the Engineers Australia magazine’s Australia Top 100 Influential Engineers list. Today John runs his own global engineering consultancy company.

Distinguished Alumnus

Robert Malachy (R M) Serjeant

Field of Study: Engineering

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

Robert Malachy Serjeant was one of Ballarat’s most successful mine operators and key public figures. He served as Parliament Representative for Ballarat West before turning to mine managing. Serjeant was an active and generous supporter of the School of Mines, Ballarat (SMB) serving on the inaugural school council and holding a council position until retirement when he was elected a Life Governor.  He was also a student and Mining lecturer at SMB. Serjeant was a community man and had associations with the Freemason, Old Colonist’s Association, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, and Ballarat Local Court and mining board. He was a Life Member of the Ballarat Mechanics Institute and Life Governor of the Ballarat Hospital. Serjeant died in 1902. In 2014 he was inducted into the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame.