Alumni recognised for outstanding contributions on Australia Day

27 January 2017

Seven UTS alumni are among the outstanding Australians recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours for their contributions to sport, public service, diversity and community organisations.

"The contributions of these UTS graduates in their chosen fields highlights the qualities that are at the heart of the university – a commitment to social justice, diversity, community engagement and a passion for excellence – and we congratulate each of them on their remarkable achievements," said Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs.

Paratriathlete Katie Kelly (Master of Business – Marketing, 2010) was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to sport, following her inspirational gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Kelly, who has Usher’s syndrome, a degenerative condition affecting sight and vision, was diagnosed as legally blind in early 2015, and raced to victory in the KT5 category to win gold in Rio, racing with her guide Michellie Jones.

Also recognised for services to sport was Andrew Purchas (Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, 1991), whose contributions to rugby union, and to the promotion of social inclusion for LGBTI people has earned a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Purchas is Chairman of the International Gay Rugby Association and founder of the Sydney Convicts, Australia's first gay rugby union team.

Michelle Leonard (Master of Arts in Communication Management, 2002) received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) her service to the community, and to the performing arts, including her role as Founder and Artistic Director of Moorambilla Voices, a community organisation that encourages children in remote and regional New South Wales to learn about artistic expression. Since its establishment in 2006, the unique choir has brought together more than 17,500 students from 78 schools across the state, and been the subject of two documentaries, Wide Open Sky and Outback Choir.

Also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) were Leonard Mahemoff (Bachelor of Laws, 1998) recognising more than 50 years of service to the Jewish community through a range of organisations, and Yair Miller (Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, 2001) for his service to the community through a range of organisations, and to interfaith relations.

Greg McTaggart (Bachelor of Civil Engineering, 1981) was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to the maintenance and conservation of the Sydney Opera House. A passionate advocate for sustainability, McTaggart has led the planning and delivery of major building projects at the iconic World Heritage listed performing arts centre in his role as the Opera House’s Director of Building.

Peter Riordan (Master of Business Administration, 2002) also received the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to industrial relations and education in New South Wales.