UTS alumni celebrated in Australia Day honours

31 January 2018

UTS alumni and staff are have been recognised for their contribution to education, health, justice, and public policy reform, in this year's Australia Day Honours.

“UTS is proud that its graduates and academics can make such meaningful and outstanding contributions to society,” says UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs. “They have distinguished themselves in a manner that goes to the heart of our values – social justice, diversity, community engagement, and a passion for excellence – and we congratulate them for achieving the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Vivienne White (Diploma in Teacher Librarianship, 1978) was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her service to education through leadership in developing initiatives supporting disadvantaged students and schools. In White’s 30-year career, which spanned teaching roles in primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions, she co-founded the Australian National Schools Network and was appointed as CEO of the Victorian Schools Innovation Commission. She is now also the CEO and co-founder of Big Picture Education Australia, an independent network of schools dedicated to developing innovative school models to serve all students, particularly disadvantaged ones.

Also awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia was Jozefa Sobski (Master of Education – Adult Education, 1997), who was recognised for her service to women’s rights and migrant advocacy, and her efforts across higher education and skills-based training. Since working as a Councillor at the NSW Teachers Federation in the 1980s, Sobski has been the Principal of Meadowbank College of TAFE, the Director of South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, the Deputy Director-General of TAFE Educational Services, and a founding member of the TAFE Community Alliance. She has also been a board member of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia for ten years, and an Executive Member and NSW Convenor for the Women’s Electoral Lobby since 2006.

Stephen Burdon, a Professor in Strategic Management and Technology at UTS’s Faculty of Engineering and IT, was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to information technology and telecommunications, to education, to the visual arts, and to Australia-Asia cultural relations. During his times at UTS, Professor Burdon's research has centred on the digital economy, innovation, creativity and collaboration. He has also been the Director of VisAsia at the Art Gallery of NSW and a Foundation Member of its President’s Council. He has also been on the board of Silex Systems, Transfield Services; and held directorial roles at British Telecom and Telstra.

Garry Traynor (Master of Education – Adult Education, 1993) received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for his work in adult education. Traynor was the founding principal of Sydney Community College, which he established in 1988. In the years since, he has been the President of Adult Learning Australia, a member of the TAFE Accreditation Council, the Deputy Chair of the TAFE NSW Sydney Institute Advisory Council, and a Member of the Education Advisory Committee of the Innovations Business Skills Australia.

Also recognised for his contribution to education was David Collins (Bachelor of Arts in Communication, 1981), who was awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) for outstanding public service to vocational education and training (VET) in New South Wales. Through his leadership, he secured more than $1 billion in funding over the past 12 years for reform programs, including the ‘Smart and Skilled’ program and the ‘Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program’. The reforms introduced by Collins are credited as having kept NSW at the forefront of VET.

Robyn Latimer (Bachelor of Design – Visual Communications, 1992) was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for her service to community health. A graphic designer by trade, Latimer has been the National President of the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia, a non-profit charity run by volunteers, since 2007. In 2010, she received the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award.

Anthony Avsec (Bachelor of Applied Science – Building, 1986) also received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for a career dedicated to the building and construction industry, and to education. He was a National Councillor with the Australian Institute of Building from 1999 before becoming its Queensland Chapter President and, later the Chair of the Education Committee of the Queensland Chapter. Avsec is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology’s School of Science and Engineering.

Andrew Nicholls (Master of Management – Public Sector Management, 1998) was recognised with a Public Service Medal (PSM) for his contribution to transport and insurance policy development and reform in NSW. Most notably, he led the NSW Green Slip Scheme since 2010, which brought down the average cost of Green Slips by $100; and he led the reform of the $2.5 billion NSW Compulsory Third Part (CTP) scheme, which gave more than 7,000 people access to benefits they were previously excluded from.

Tracey Hall (Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice, 1996) was also awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) for her work in the justice sector in New South Wales. After being appointed Sheriff of New South Wales in 2013, she has been recognised for transforming the Office of the Sheriff into a contemporary law enforcement organisation. Most recently, she led the organisation’s contribution to the Lindt Café siege and the subsequent Coronial Inquest. The extraordinary care and compassion with which the hostages and the families of the victims were treated brought her organisation into high regard.

Also awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) was Cathryn Cox (Master of Management – Public Sector Management, 1993), who has earned a reputation as a role model and expert in statewide clinical service and capital planning. In a career spanning 25 years, Cox delivered 17 integrated cancer services across New South Wales, including the abolition of the patient co-payment for chemotherapy. As the Executive Director of Health System Planning and Investment in the NSW Ministry of Health, she is responsible for the management of the Capital Investment Plan valued at over $1.7 billion per year.

Commander Leigh Jackson RANR (Bachelor of Business, 2004) received a Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM) for meritorious achievement in the field of Navy personnel management systems. Jackson led the development and implementation of the Compass personnel reporting and management system, an innovative tool that reduces day-to-day administrative burdens and has reinvigorated the Divisional system across the Navy.

Lieutentant Colonel Melanie Cochbain (Bachelor of Education – Adult Education, 2001) was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) for her outstanding devotion to duty as the Commanding Officer of the Army Personnel Support Centre in the Australian Army.