Current recipients

The Faculty of Arts recognises alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field, and who have made a considerable contribution to the Faculty, the University and their communities, both locally and globally. The Awards are presented annually and are chosen by calling on all our alumni to nominate those who have achieved distinction in one of four areas.

Celebrating our 2019 Arts Alumni Award recipients

Each year the Arts Alumni Awards event is an opportunity to celebrate Faculty of Arts alumni making a difference locally and internationally. Awards recognise excellence in a recipient's chosen field, their contribution to the Faculty, the University or in their communities. In the opening address at the presentation of the awards, Dean of the Faculty of Arts Russell Goulbourne spoke of the far-reaching impact students have on society.

"You only need to look at the shelves in our best book stores, or the boards of our nation's top corporations or not for profit enterprises, at government or public service and community sectors, in federal and state parliaments, or at media, film and television to realise the great and diverse array of achievements of students with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Melbourne."

Arts Alumni Awards are presented in four categories:

  • The Rising Star Award for Young Alumni
  • Contribution to the Faculty and University Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Leadership Award
Arts Alumni Award recipients 2019
Left to right: 2019 Faculty of Arts Alumni Award recipients Dr Ted Gott, Dirgayuza Setiawan, Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, Joanna Murray-Smith and Mohamed Khairat. Photo by David Hanna.

The Rising Star Award for Young Alumni

An individual who is 30 years of age or under and has demonstrated an outstanding level of professional achievement and community involvement since graduating from the University of Melbourne and/or has been recognised by colleagues and peers for their outstanding leadership and impact as a global citizen.

Dirgayuza (Yuza) Setiawan
BA - Media and Communications, Political Science, 2011

Dirgayuza (Yuza) Setiawan
Dirgayuza (Yuza) Setiawan

When Dirgayuza (Yuza) Setiawan was still at high school, he and some of his friends refurbished used computers and distributed them to community organisations and orphanages so that they could use them to run computer literacy classes. What began as a school project planted the seeds for his passion for sharing with others the life-changing potential of computer and internet literacy.

Yuza completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne in 2011 and in 2016 graduated from Oxford University’s Internet Institute Master of Social Science program in Social Science of the Internet.

He has authored 11 books on technology for Indonesian audiences, including "how to" guides for people new to using Facebook and Mac operating systems.

For the past three years, Yuza has been part of the NextGen@ICANN program, which brings together people interested in shaping the future of global internet policy.

He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Digital Society in Indonesia, Universitas Gadjah Mada's research centre on the study of modern digital societies.

Mohamed Khairat
BA - Media and Communications, Politics and International Studies, 2014
Juris Doctor (JD) 2016

Mohamed Khairat
Mohamed Khairat

Mohamed Khairat was still a Bachelor of Arts student when he founded Egyptian Streets, an independent English language media organisation in Egypt.

During a visit to Egypt in 2012, Mohamed perceived that there were major gaps in the kind of events and issues media outlets were reporting, and saw a need for change. His goal in establishing Egyptian Streets was to share stories that mattered, with a focus on driving social and cultural change by tackling key - and often sensitive - social and cultural issues.

What began as a blog in 2012 has in just a few years become one of Egypt's most important independent voices, with five permanent staff, over 30 contributors, and readership all over the world.

In addition to reporting on and sharing social and cultural stories, Mohamed has ensured that Egyptian Streets is actively involved in the community through partnerships with local non-government organisations, in local campaigns, and in fundraising for various social causes.

In 2018, Mohamed was named '30 Under 30 in Media & Marketing' by Forbes Europe and '30 Under 30 Arab' by Forbes Middle East for his role in founding Egyptian Streets.

He is currently a lawyer in the Projects & Development team at Allens, Melbourne.

Contribution to the Faculty and University Award

For an individual who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the Faculty and University through outstanding leadership, impact on students, research and teaching, engagement or philanthropy.

Dr Ted Gott
BA Hons - Classics and Archaeology, Fine Arts, 1981
PhD, 1987

Dr Ted Gott
Dr Ted Gott

Dr Ted Gott is Senior Curator of International Art at the National Gallery of Victoria and an Honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.

He began his Bachelor of Arts studies intending to be a French teacher, but emerged with a passion for classics and art history, and subsequently completed a PhD on French symbolist painter Odilon Redon.

Ted has made a significant contribution to Australia's cultural life over the past 30 years. Having held curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Heide Museum of Modern Art, he has curated and co-curated over 25 exhibitions.

In 1994 he curated the exhibition Don't Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS at the National Gallery of Australia. At a time when fear of AIDS was at its peak, it was - and still is - the first exhibition on the subject to be held at a national gallery anywhere in the world, and drew an audience of 140,000 people.

The gallery had expected less than a tenth of that number to attend the exhibition; but in Ted’s own words, "what [the exhibition] turned out to be was an incredible touch point that gave everyone who had been touched by the disease a place to go and express their emotion, and to find a cathartic outlet to express what they had gone through. It became an extraordinary phenomenon."

A writer and researcher, Ted has published widely on Australian, British and French art in books, catalogues, and journals, and has been actively involved in the mentoring of developing curators. A generous and enthusiastic speaker, he has given public lectures around the country in both metropolitan and regional areas.

The International Council of Museums Australia has praised Ted as "Australia’s pre-eminent curator in international art", whose "experience, attention to detail, knowledge of art and history, scholarly approach and easy communication style has seen many significant exhibitions developed and presented to Australian audiences that have enchanted and enlightened academic and general audiences alike."

In 2016, he was awarded a Knighthood from the French government, L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters), in recognition of his significant contribution to the field of art.

As an Honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Culture and Communication, Ted has also been an active contributor to the Faculty of Arts, the University and its alumni community. Over the past five years, he has been a regular volunteer guest speaker at University events, has delivered public lectures, and has contributed to numerous University and Faculty of Arts publications.

Lifetime Achievement Award

For an individual who has made an outstanding, long-term and internationally-recognised contribution to their field of endeavour.

Joanna Murray-Smith
BA Hons - English and Fine Arts, 1985

Joanna Murray-Smith
Joanna Murray-Smith

Joanna Murray-Smith is the 2019 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution to the arts community as Australia's most successfully produced female playwright.

Over the past 30 years, Joanna has forged a hugely successful writing career working across multiple genres including theatre, screen, opera and prose.

Joanna’s stage works have been regularly performed by many Australian companies - the Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland Theatre Companies, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Malthouse Theatre, Red Stitch and La Mama, to name a few - but have also found audiences around the world. Her plays appear regularly on the West End, have been staged at the National Theatre in London and on Broadway, and have been performed in over two dozen languages.

Joanna has been recognised by numerous prestigious Australian literary awards, including the Commonwealth Medal for Services to Playwriting, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, the NSW Premier's Literary Award, Braille Book of the Year, and the inaugural Mona Brand Award for Screen and Stage Writing. She has won Green Room Awards and AWGIE (Australian Writers' Guild) Awards, been long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, nominated for an Oliver Award, AFI Awards, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the International Susan Blackburn Play Award.

Joanna contributes to writing communities locally and internationally by sharing her knowledge with aspiring writers through workshops and masterclasses. She has lectured at UCLA and at the New York Stage and Screen Festival, and closer to home, speaks frequently to school students studying her plays as part of the high school curriculum.

In 2012, Joanna was made a Vice Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne in recognition of her standing in the arts community. As part of this position, Joanna addressed aspiring writers, performers and directors at the University of Melbourne about creative responsibility, ethics, discipline and resilience, as well as on the fundamentals of creative writing. She also mentored students on their individual writing projects.

Leadership Award

For an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in business, community or government.

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM
Master of Development Studies 2009

Kon Karapanagiotidis
Kon Karapanagiotidis

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and a fierce advocate for rights of people seeking asylum, refugees and Indigenous Australians. He is also a human rights lawyer, teacher, social worker, and philanthropist.

Growing up in a small Victorian country town in the 70s and 80s as part of a Greek working-class family, Kon experienced racism first-hand. These early experiences - and learning about his grandparents’ experiences as refugees fleeing the Pontic genocide in Anatolia - ignited in Kon a passion for human rights.

Kon founded the not-for-profit Asylum Seeker Resource Centre at the age of 28. Then a TAFE teacher of welfare studies, Kon had discovered that asylum seekers in the community were living without basic support. With 40 of his students, he started a new charity as part of an educational project - a student-run food bank, launched from a small Footscray shopfront with food donated from local businesses.

The ASRC started that same year, in 2001. In Kon’s own words: "I started with a simple vision: I wanted to create a place of hope and welcome where no one was turned away. A centre that stood for justice, that was willing to be at the coalface when and where it mattered for people. Where dreams of freedom burned brightly in the hearts of all who entered."

Eighteen years later, the ASRC is the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia providing not only food and material aid, but support services, primary health services, and education and employment programs. Without any government funding, each year it advocates for, supports and empowers over 4,600 people seeking asylum.