Top alumni honoured for making a difference

Eight outstanding members of the University of Adelaide’s alumni community have received Distinguished Alumni Awards in recognition of their significant contributions to their professions and communities.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Jessica Gallagher, Chancellor Catherine Branson, Sarah Boyle, Juliet Haslam, John Scanlon, Peter Ong, David Lam, Nik Nasha Damia, Adam Liaw, Lesley Salem and Vice-Chancellor Peter Høj

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), Dr Jessica Gallagher, University of Adelaide Chancellor, The Hon. Catherine Branson AC KC, Dr Sarah Boyle, Juliet Haslam OAM, John Scanlon AO, Peter Ong, Dr David Lam, Nik Nasha Damia, Adam Liaw, Lesley Salem AM and Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj AC.

Celebrity chef Adam Liaw and Olympic gold medallist Juliet Haslam are among the winners, which also include a young cancer researcher, a rural GP, a nurse using art to engage communities, a leader of Singapore’s civil service, a humanitarian working with refugees in Malaysia, and an environmental lawyer.

Each of these distinguished alumni excelled in their field and contributed to their local and global communities through their efforts and accomplishments.

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Awards, four alumni received Alumni Fellows Awards presented by Dr Jessica Gallagher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), in recognition of their significant contribution to the advancement of the University of Adelaide's Alumni Relations program.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented by the Honourable Catherine Branson AC KC, Chancellor, and Professor Peter Høj AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, across five categories:

  • the Distinguished Alumni Award, for outstanding and sustained contributions;
  • the Tirkapena Indigenous Award, for positive outcomes for Indigenous communities;
  • the James McWha Rising Star Award, for those making a significant contribution as emerging leaders;
  • the Distinguished International Alumni Award, for international graduates who excel in their chosen field;
  • and, for the first time, the Outstanding Alumni Contribution to Sport Award, for outstanding and sustained contribution to sporting communities.


Distinguished Alumni Award winners:
Nik Nasha Damia is a passionate humanitarian and leader, whose work as Director of the Rohingya Women Development Network aims to help the thousands of Rohingya refugee women in Malaysia find education, learn new skills, build their autonomy and significantly improve their quality of life.

Dr David Lam is an award-winning young doctor who is making incredible contributions to Australian communities by providing medical care to vulnerable Australians, advocating for the importance of mental health care, and inspiring a new generation of doctors to work in rural and remote communities. 

Adam Liaw is a celebrity chef, cookbook author, TV host and Unicef Australia Ambassador who has become an icon of modern Australian food culture. Before his rise to stardom as a chef, Adam was a successful lawyer, practicing both in Australia and internationally.

John Scanlon AO is an environmental lawyer, leader and policy maker who is dedicated to ending wildlife crimes on a global scale. Throughout his career, his leadership of international environmental organisations has helped reduce the impact of the $2-3 trillion illegal wildlife trade on ecosystems and societies around the world.


James McWha Rising Star Award winner:
Dr Sarah Boyle is an exceptional young leader in the field of breast cancer research, whose innovative approaches are leading the way to new frontiers in the treatment of breast cancer in South Australia.


Outstanding Alumni Contribution to Sport Award winner:
Juliet Haslam OAM is one of our most decorated hockey players and a pioneer of professional women’s sport in Australia. Her immense contributions to Australian sport have earnt her many accolades and a place in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. She continues to inspire and educate the next generation of athletes as a mentor and ambassador.


Tirkapena Indigenous Award winner:
Lesley Salem AM is a Wonnarua woman, artist, author, and nurse practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in remote and rural nursing. She works tirelessly to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, both through her passionate advocacy and her work as a nurse practitioner.


Distinguished International Alumni Award winner:
Peter Ong is an economist and lifelong civil servant dedicated to advancing the interests of Singapore and its people. His distinguished career has spanned many different government areas including overseeing a workforce of 145,000 as the head of civil service in Singapore and offering advice on economic strategy and policy via board positions across various government entities.


Alumni Fellows Award winners:
Randolf Brazier joined the South Australian Universities Alumni Europe in 2016 and served as Treasurer and Trustee until his election as Chair in 2019. He has been instrumental in engaging with alumni members and has successfully broadened the network’s engagement with the business community, the Office of the Agent General of South Australia and the High Commission.

Jeffrey Lam has been an integral member of the Adelaide University Alumni Association Singapore committee since 2014 and served his last term as President, leading the association’s successful efforts to engage alumni through diverse online activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring they stayed connected with the University and other significant communities.

Louisa Rose has served as Alumni Council Chair for the past eight years, contributing immeasurably to the University’s advancement strategies, the Alumni Relations program, Alumni recognition and awards projects, and the operation of the Alumni Council itself.

Sunny Wu is the longest-serving committee member of the Young Alumni Network and continues to make a valuable contribution to the University’s Alumni Relations program, including through the organisation of events, the generous provision of pro bono professional photography, and significant contributions to the network’s business continuity.

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