With over 70,000 Arts alumni worldwide the Faculty of Arts takes pride in recognising alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field. Meet the Arts Alumni Award Winners we're celebrating this year.
The annual Arts Alumni Awards raise awareness of our alumni and honour their outstanding contribution to society across a diverse range of fields. Based within the arts, media, government, business, community and not-for-profit sectors, their achievements underline the ongoing relevance of an Arts education. Learn more about the Arts Alumni Awards program and previous winners.
Jason Ball (BA)
Rising Star Award for Young Alumni
Jason Ball was presented with the Rising Star Award for his commendable leadership and outstanding contribution in the fields of anti-discrimination and LGBTIQ advocacy. After publicly coming out in 2012 as the first openly gay Australian Rules footballer at any level of competition, Jason launched a national campaign to challenge homophobia in sport, starting a petition calling on the Australian Football League (AFL) to play 'No To Homophobia' ads on the big screen of the 2012 AFL Grand Final and to commit to a Pride Round the following year. The petition received almost 30,000 signatures and gained national and international media coverage leading to major advances in the AFL’s commitment to creating a more inclusive environment for all players and supporters. Jason led the 18th Pride March Victoria with his teammates from the Yarra Glen Football Club, and he initiated the annual Pride Cup, a country football match to celebrate diversity and promote LGBTIQ inclusion. In 2013 Jason was appointed an ambassador for Beyond Blue to speak about issues of mental health, in schools, sporting clubs and conferences around Australia.
There’s a bit of a stereotype that an Arts degree doesn't give you the workplace-ready, job skills that you need in the community… My Bachelor of Arts developed my abilities to communicate clearly and reach people from a variety of walks in life. Not only that, but it gave me the confidence to stand up for what matters most to me and that is equality.’
Lucy Thomas (BCA(Hons), PGradDipPsych)
Rising Star Award for Young Alumni
Lucy Thomas was presented with the Rising Star Award for being an outstanding innovator and contributor in the fields of social advocacy and education. Cofounder of PROJECT ROCKIT, Australia’s largest youth driven anti-bullying movement combatting hate and prejudice, Lucy has been passionate and tireless in her campaign to fight bullying. Launched in 2006 by Lucy and her sister Rosie, PROJECT ROCKIT has united hundreds of thousands of young people around Australia over the past decade, helping them to feel confident to take a stand against bullying. Lucy and Rosie have served as spokespeople and consultants on cyber safety campaigns lead by research centre Young and Well CRC, headspace, Telstra, Microsoft and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
In 2015 Lucy became an inaugural member of Twitter's global Trust and Safety Council and took up the post of Australian delegate in Facebook’s compassion research summit. Lucy is also a committed LGBTIQ campaigner and sits on the board of Minus18, supporting same sex attracted and gender diverse teens. In 2014 Lucy and her sister were appointed by Unicef as one of 12 Digital Champions around the world for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age.
Lucy frequently lends her expertise to consult on issues related to young people and technology contributing to programs such as ABC’s Compass, Triple J’s Hack, The Herald Sun and Dolly and Cleo magazines.
I’m just going to quickly share an idea; this is the idea on which PROJECT ROCKIT was founded, and I think Melbourne Uni is a great petri dish for ideas. The idea is simple, it's not very original, but it's really powerful: imagine a world where kindness and respect thrive over bullying, hate, and prejudice.
I think our task is to take the grit of our every day; the horrors, the struggles, and the boringness of our lives and transform them into something really valuable for others. And that's what I think we all need to do to make this world a kinder place for everyone, so thank you.
Emeritus Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM (BA, MA, DLitt)
Contribution to the Faculty and University
Emeritus Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe was presented with the Contribution to the Faculty and University Award for his extraordinary support for poetry, scholarship and education over many years. Chris is a celebrated poet and academic who,alongside a long career at Melbourne, also held the posts of Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University and at the University of Venice, Ca'Foscari. He is the founding director of the Australian Centre and currently the Chair of Australian Poetry Limited. A celebrated poet, essayist and critic, Chris has dedicated much of his life to teaching the next generation of creative writers at Melbourne. Chris's academic, creative and intellectual leadership across the disciplines of English, Creative Writing and Australian Studies are widely acknowledged and have benefited innumerable students and staff over his years at the University. The role Chris played in the creation of the Australian Centre in particular has left a significant legacy.
Chris was recently acknowledged by the judges of The Melbourne Prize for his outstanding contribution to Australian literature, cultural and intellectual life. The distinction of his poetry has rightly been recognised by numerous awards, and alumni have commented warmly on his remarkable teaching and supervision of students, his role as a mentor for students and staff, and his generosity in continuing to contribute creatively and intellectually to this institution.
My father, who was a journalist, said: 'There's one thing kid - you've gotta be interested in everything…' What I've found with the University community is an encouragement to be interested in everything, an encouragement to communicate, and I've loved the way in which generation after generation of successive students has come up different and eager to do this…
Lily Yulianti (GradDipArts (GS), MA (Gen&Dev), PhD)
Lily Yulianti was presented with the Leadership Award for her community and organisational development in the field of media and communications in both Indonesia and Australia. Lily began her career in writing and journalism working for various Indonesian, Japanese and Australian media outlets. After completing her Masters degree at the University of Melbourne, Lily founded Indonesia's first citizen journalism web site, Panyingkul, which provides free writing courses for emerging writers of any background in her home-town Makassar, South Sulawesi Indonesia. Lily spearheaded the "Makkunrai Project", a program raising gender awareness through literature and stage performance. Lily is also the founder of Rumata‘ Artspace, an independent creative arts centre producing local opportunities and a centre for excellence in culture and arts in the city of Makassar. She is the initiator and director of the “Makassar International Writers Festival.”
Lily's strong belief in the transformative power of the written word has seen her publishing her own work and frequently presenting at literary festivals around the world.
I do believe there's beauty in the way people at the grassroots can communicate and connect with each other. I feel connected across both Australia and Indonesia. That's why every time when people ask 'So where do you live now, Lily?,' I say I live in Makassar and Melbourne.
Professor Gary Foley, (BA (HONS), PhD)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Professor Gary Foley was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to Aboriginal Australian advocacy, welfare and rights. Gary was a co-founder of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972, played a pivotal role in organising protests against the Springbok tour in 1971, and was involved in the formation of the Aboriginal Legal Service in Redfern and the Aboriginal Medical Service in Melbourne and Sydney. He co-wrote and appeared in the first Aboriginal stage production in 1972, Basically Black, helped to establish the National Black Theatre, and he has starred in films such as Backroads and Dogs in Space, as well as being the first director of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council. Gary organised protests to highlight Indigenous issues at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games and, during the Bicentenary, was a consultant to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He also campaigned successfully against the closure of Northland Secondary College in 1993. From 2001- 2005 Gary was the Senior Curator for South Eastern Australia at Museum Victoria.
Gary was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for this PhD thesis at the University of Melbourne on the development of the Black Power movement within the Aboriginal community, and is the author of a forthcoming book on this topic . He has also been published in numerous journals including Griffith Law Review and the Australian Journal of Human Rights. Gary is now Professor at the Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit at Victoria University.
The Faculty of Arts is proud to acknowledge Gary’s dedication and contribution to academic writing and research, to advocacy and activism, to film and acting, and particularly to Aboriginal health, welfare and rights. Gary has made an extraordinary mark on the history not only of this campus and its students, but also on a world in which the role of activism and advocacy remains critical.
I got thrown out of school when I was 15 years old on the North coast of New South Wales by a racist headmaster who dismissed me with these words; "We don't want your kind here". Those words demolished my self-esteem, my self-confidence for 30 years. I came to the University almost at the age of 50, so it's a little bit of a concern to get a Lifetime Achievement Award at this age because sort of implies that I’m getting towards the end of my life. I think there's a few bites left in this old dog yet, mate! I want to pay particular tribute to Professor Nikos Papastergiadis, who was my PhD supervisor…he played a key role in helping me discipline my mind and achieve the award I received for my PhD. I also want to pay particular tribute to Dr. Tony Birch, who was the first Aboriginal historian to graduate from this University … he was a role-model and a mentor for me. One other person that I'd like to pay tribute to is Dr Steven Welch, who was really one of the truly inspirational historians I studied under at this University. It was a fantastic experience…’