Celebrating our remarkable alumni

The University's Outstanding Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate the diverse achievements of alumni, across their fields of endeavour and in their communities.

There are two levels of winners:

  1. Academic Group Winners
  2. Overall University Winners

2021 University winners

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Outstanding Alumnus

Joe Brumm

Joe's hit ABC TV show, Bluey, has become a global phenomenon, winning awards including a Logie, an AACTA and even an International Emmy Award.

Joe's outstanding story

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Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus

Haylene Grogan

To remind herself what she's fighting for, Haylene carries around her families exemption certificates, that forbade them from moving around because they were First Peoples.

Haylene's outstanding story

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Outstanding International Alumnus

Ahmed Athif

Determined that no child should be left behind in the Maldvies education system, Athif has made a sustained contribution to inclusive and special education support.

Athif's outstanding story

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Outstanding Young Alumnus

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM is an emergency doctor living with quadriplegia and a passionate disability advocate dedicating his life to working, teaching and researching health.

Dinesh's outstanding story

Outstanding Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2021

Diversity and inclusion champion

Andrew Hebbron

Master of Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis

Director (Chief Superintendent), Queensland Ambulance Service

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Midwife and pilot

Captain Jan Becker AM

Master of Aviation Management

CEO, Becker Helicopters Pilot Academy

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Community health professional

Dr Mohit Tolani

Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science and Graduate Diploma of Dentistry

Lead Dentist and Practice Associate, Dapto Dentists

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Emmy award winner

Joe Brumm

Bachelor of Animation (Honours)

Creator and writer of the hit series, Bluey

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Griffith University Cultural Sensitivity Warning: The Following profiles and announcement may contain images, and the name of a deceased persons essential to service and engagement. Students, Staff and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community are warned that there may be words and descriptions that may be culturally sensitive, and which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts outside of the practical delivery of these Awards and the Announcement of this year's winners for 2021. We have spoken with the family and received permission from family to share the nomination and image of this person in celebration of their life.

Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2021

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First Peoples advocate

Haylene Grogan

Master of Public Administration

Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer and Deputy Director-General

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Professor Chris Matthews

Connecting culture and mathematics

Professor Chris Matthews

Doctor of Philosophy

Education consultant and researcher

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Vanessa Lee - Ah Mat

Cultural broker

Dr Vanessa Lee - Ah Mat

Doctor of Philosophy

Senior Academic at The University of Sydney

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Susan Hamilton Card

Barrister in the High Court of Australia

Susan Hamilton

Former CEO of the Aboriginal Family Legal Service Southern Queensland

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Outstanding International Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2021

Dr Mubashar Hasan

Social justice activist

Dr Mubashar Hasan

Doctor of Philosophy

Director, Pyrmont Consultants and Tutor at WEA Sydney

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Maria Elena Barragan-Paladines

Ecuadorian ecosystems conservationist

María Elena Barragán-Paladines

Master of Environment with Honours

Executive Director, Fundacion Herpetologica Gustavo Orces

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Inter-disciplinary nursing expert

Dr Bih-O (Becky) Lee

Doctor of Philosophy

Dean and Director of Doctoral Program in Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University

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Special needs learning pioneer

Ahmed Athif

Master of Special Needs Intervention Education and Bachelor of Education in Special Education

Lead Consultant, Voshufila Learning Center, Malé

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Outstanding Young Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2021

Malaysian entrepreneur and educator

Lee Sin Tiew

Master of Commerce

Managing Director, Artivo Education Sdn Bhd

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Jordyn de Boer

Eco-friendly entrepreneur

Jordyn de Boer

Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Conservation Biology

Co-founder of Boomerang Bags

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2021 Queensland Australian of the Year

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM

Doctor of Medicine

Doctor, lawyer, disability advocate and spinal cord injury researcher.

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Lawyer, journalist and filmmaker

Eammon Ashton-Atkinson

Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Government and International Relations

U.S Correspondent, Video Journalist, Network 10

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2020 Outstanding Alumni University Winners

Remarkable Alumni - Nick Marshall

Outstanding Alumnus

Nick Marshall

With a strong sense of community and connection, Nick lives his dream of helping others be the best they can be and is a passionate advocate for special needs children.

Remarkable story

Remarkable Alumni - Cameron Costello

Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus

Cameron Costello

Cameron uses his entrepreneurial skills to enrich the lives of the next generation and empowers them to become advocates and carers of Country.

Remarkable story

Remarkable Alumni - Zhariff Afandi

Outstanding International Alumnus

Zhariff Afandi

Being born without arms has never hindered Zhariff's ability to lead an impactful life as an entrepreneur, humanitarian and an adventurer.

Remarkable story

Remarkable Alumni - Dr Elise Stephenson

Outstanding Young Alumnus

Dr Elise Stephenson

Dr Stephenson is living her vision of supporting the marginalised and contributing to a better society and a better world.

Remarkable story

Outstanding Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2020

Lyn Melcer_card

Champion of Indigenous super issues

Lyn Melcer

Master of Business Administration (Advanced) / Bachelor of Commerce

QSuper’s Head of Technical Advice

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Remarkable Alumni - Nick Marshall

Officially a local hero

Nick Marshall

Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy

Business owner and ambassador for special needs children.

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Dr Cephas Lumina

Lawyer and human rights expert

Professor Cephas Lumina

Doctor of Philosophy / Graduate Certificate in Higher Education

Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

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Professor Andrew Knight_Card

Animal welfare advocate

Professor Andrew Knight

Doctor of Philosophy

Passionate advocate for animal welfare and ethics

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Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2020

Jayde Geia_card

Indigenous commercial lawyer

Jayde Geia

Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

Pioneering a new approach to law

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Remarkable Alumni - Cameron Costello

First Peoples advocate

Cameron Costello

Bachelor of Leisure Management

CEO of the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation

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Dr Troy Byrnes_card

Coastal Management expert

Dr Troy Byrnes

Doctor of Philosophy  / Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

Coastal Management expert and community lead

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Blake Jones

Early career success

Dr Blake Jones

Doctor of Medicine / Bachelor of Medical Science

Aspiring regional and rural physician

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Outstanding International Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2020

Dr Jeff Thompson_card

No stranger to conflict

Dr Jeff Thompson

Doctor of Philosophy

Hostage negotiator, counsellor and mental health ambassador

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Dr Padmavadee Thanacoody_Card

Human Resource expert

Dr P. Rani Thanacoody

Master of Human Resource Management (Honours)

An international career in research and education

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Remarkable Alumni - Zhariff Afandi

Community champion

Zhariff Afandi

Bachelor of Psychological Science

Entrepreneur, author and UNICEF ambassador

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International ecologist

Professor Norbert Lenz

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science

Bachelor of Science (Honours) / Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Conservation Biology

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Outstanding Young Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2020

Remarkable Alumni - Dr Elise Stephenson

Australian strategist and researcher

Dr Elise Stephenson

Bachelor of Government and International Relations (Honours)

Bachelor of Asian and International Studies / Bachelor of Communication

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Dr Maxwell Moody

RAAF Dental Officer, Flight Lieutenant

Dr Max Moody

Graduate Diploma Dentistry / Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science

Dedicated to helping disadvantaged communities and mentoring others

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Dr Louise Ashton_Card2

International ecologist and researcher

Dr Louise Ashton

Doctor of Philosophy

Bachelor of Science (Honours) / Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Conservation Biology

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Matthew Hanger_card

Houdini FX Artist and Generalist

Matthew Hanger

Bachelor of Animation

International feature film animator and industry mentor

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2019 Outstanding Alumni University Winners

Outstanding Alumnus Award

Dr Barry Kirby AO

2019 Outstanding Alumnus award winner

A former carpenter turned remote medico and founder of not-for-profit organisation ‘The Hands of Rescue’ (THOR), Dr Barry Kirby is changing lives in Papua New Guinea..

Remarkable story

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Dr Elizabeth Hamilton

2019 Outstanding Young Alumnus award winner

Armed with a goal to contribute to Global Health, Dr Elizabeth Hamilton is the 2018 Queensland Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Remarkable story

Outstanding International Alumnus Award

Dr Hum Gurung

2019 Outstanding International Alumnus award winner

A man on an environmental mission, conservationist Dr Hum Gurung has dedicated his professional life to promoting environmental conservation.

Remarkable story

Dr Kerry Bodle

Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award

Dr Kerry Bodle

2019 Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus award winner

A self-proclaimed ‘accidental academic’, Dr Kerry Bodle uses her expertise to promote First People’s participation in business education, research and engagement.

Remarkable story

Outstanding Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2019

Ian Freckelton

Raising the bar

The Hon Justice Ian Freckelton QC

Law and justice

A distinguished 30 year career in law including oversight of some of the country's most complex cases of the time.

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International hotelier rises to the top

Dr Jennifer Cronin

International Business

Hotel openings, cyber-security threats and cultivating young talent is all in a day's work.

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Barry Kirby

Positive maternal influence

Dr Barry Kirby AO

Biomedical Science

An unlikely hero in a landscape of overburdened and unsupported PNG healthcare workers.

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Peter Horne

International research partnerships

Dr Peter Horne

Environmental Science

A career of applying science to agriculture has benefited international communities.

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Outstanding Young Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2019

Creative license

Louise Bezzina

Applied Theatre

A desire to simply 'do something' led to the creation of a highly acclaimed cultural mecca.

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Sabrina Aripen

Gender equality advocate

Sabrina Aripen

Commerce

Changing the perceptions and expectations of parental care in Malaysia.

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Beth Hamilton

Promoting health equality

Dr Elizabeth Hamilton

Medicine

A young doctor’s inspiring journey on the road to global health advancements.

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Johanna Nalau

Social scientist

Dr Johanna Nalau

Science

A facilitator of discourse about climate change nationally and abroad.

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Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2019

Pekeri Ruska

Community focused

Pekeri Ruska

Law / Arts

From the sand dunes of Stradbroke Island to the law courts of Victoria, social change is coming.

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Cultural capability

Dr Kerry Bodle

Business

The first Indigenous Certified Practising Accountant who became an 'accidental' academic.

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Cassandra Nest

Birthing stories

Cassandra Nest

Midwifery

Passed down learnings from the Ngunnawal women has led to cultural safe havens in the birthing suite.

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Outstanding International Alumnus Award - Academic Group Winners 2019

Aaron Bailey

Beating the odds

Aaron Bailey

Human Services

Just one sentence triggered a life changing ripple effect for disabled learners.

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Jacob Karaduman

Democratising finance

Jacob Hansen Karaduman

International Business

Through the generation of 'warm leads' an entire industry has been changed.

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Defense mechanisms

Ricky Patlunag Bunayog

Training and Development

Facilitating and sustaining the peace through education and training.

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Hum Gurung

International conservationist

Dr Hum Gurung

Environmental Science

An environmental mission has spread from a remote village to the world.

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Contact Us

For questions relating to the Outstanding Alumni Awards contact the Alumni Relations Team.

Contact Us

Winner announcement

The 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award winners have been announced.

Meet the winners

Stay connected

Keep in touch with your alumni community.