Arts Alumni Awards

About the Arts Alumni Awards

Faculty of Arts alumni form a community of over 80,000 all around the world. Presented annually, the Arts Alumni Awards recognise alumni who have made a difference in their chosen field, and who have contributed to the Faculty, the University, and their communities through their endeavours.

Award categories

  • 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.

  • Leadership Award

    An individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in their field of endeavour.

  • Contribution to the Faculty and University Award

    An individual who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the Faculty and University through outstanding leadership, impact on students, and/or engagement with the University and broader community. *Please note this award is to reward contribution beyond an individual’s employment at the University.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award

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


Recognising alumni who have achieved excellence

Do you know an outstanding Arts alum making a difference locally or internationally?

Whether they’re a high-profile candidate on the world stage or a quiet achiever making a difference locally, we look forward to hearing about what our Arts alumni have been up to since graduating.

Nominations for the 2024 Arts Alumni Awards are now closed, the winners will be published on this page in June.

Nominations are assessed by a panel that includes the Associate Dean, Partnerships (Faculty of Arts), members of the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board, previous Arts Alumni Award recipients, and members of the Alumni Council (The University of Melbourne).

2023 Arts Alumni Awards

The Faculty of Arts is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 Arts Alumni Awards, who were presented with their awards on 31 May by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts the Reverend Professor Russell Goulbourne at a ceremony at the University of Melbourne.

Awarded each year, these awards recognise the valuable contributions alumni have made all over the world across a range of fields, including the not-for-profit sector, government, education, business, arts and media.

Group shot on stage with 2023 Alumni Award winners and the Dean
2023 recipients: (Back L-R) Jane Crawley, Rev Prof Russell Goulbourne, Esmé Louise James, (Front L-R) Assoc Prof Andrew Jamieson, The Hon Justice Susan Kenny AM, Michael Lim. (Awarded in absentia: Amanda McKenzie).
  • The Hon. Justice Susan Kenny AM

    Susan Kenny AM headshot

    Lifetime Achievement Award

    LLB (Hons), 1977;
    BA (Hons), 1975
    Judge, Federal Court of Australia

    Having studied Arts and Law with Honours at the University of Melbourne, the Hon. Justice Susan Kenny AM signed the Bar Roll in 1981. She took silk in 1996, and appeared in a number of prominent cases, including the Tasmanian Dam Case and the War Crimes Case. In 1985, she was awarded the Menzies Scholarship in Law, followed by a grant from the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust, which enabled her to complete a doctoral thesis at the University of Oxford.

    In 1997, she was appointed to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria, being the first woman judge on that Court.  Since October 1998, she has served as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. In this capacity, she has been involved in the promotion of judicial education, international judicial co-operation, and law reform.

    She is Chairperson of the Australian Electoral Commission. She has also been a Presidential Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and, from time to time, its Acting President.

    She is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and serves on a number of university and judicial boards and committees. She has written numerous articles, book chapters, and conference papers concerned with constitutional and administrative law and legal history.

    In her own words

    “An Arts Degree teaches people different ways of thinking about societies and how they change, and trains them to understand how people choose or have chosen to communicate their most important ideas to one another.  These skills are essential for almost all of us, and especially judges. The fact is that if we are to thrive on this planet, we need to study the human condition; to think intelligently; and to communicate well.”

  • Jane Crawley

    Jane Crawley headshot

    Leadership Award

    BA, 1983 
    Non Executive Director, ArtsPay Foundation and Victorian Pride Centre

    A poet by background, Jane Crawley is an industry and public sector leader who has worked across the spectrum of the creative industries - independent, commercial and government. Her primary focus is the intersection between creativity, cultural equity, and social change, and she is known for ground-breaking program design and policy creation.

    Between 2016 and 2021, Jane led Creative Victoria’s strategy and investment in the non-government creative industries, delivering Creative State 2016-20 and leading the design and adoption of Creative State 2025 and VicScreen, Victoria’s first strategy for the screen industry.  An experienced Board member, Jane is also a Non Executive Director of the Victorian Pride Centre and the ArtsPay Foundation.

    In her own words

    “I am truly honoured to receive this award. A product of the 1970s, I was the first person in the history of my family to attend university... I found my tribe here, the first-generation students, the queers, the First Nations women, the feminists, tonnes of ex-Catholics, the aspiring writers and performers, often all wrapped up into one human. My closest friends are the ones that I made here, and we are still going. We met in the women's room, planning revolution and falling in love. We met in the women's writing collective trying - with absolutely no idea how - to make creative lives that we could sustain.

    This was not wasted time. It led to the first submission I ever wrote to the University Council for the employment of the university's first Women's Officer; the first festival I designed, the centenary of Bella Guerin, the first woman to graduate from this university; the first public art installation I organised in the old union cafeteria, the first poetry readings, the first newspaper articles, and so on.

    I was obsessed with philosophy and was able to devote most of my degree to this area exclusively, a complete privilege that has supported me in every facet of my life since. In addition, of course, to the lobbying and politicking. In many ways, my life, my career, and my identity were formed here at this institution. My work in the creative industries from the Australian Writers Guild, to festivals, the City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria, the Pride Centre, to trying to drive alternative investment models for the arts with Arts Pay. None of this could have been realised without all that I learned here, while undertaking my Arts degree.

    Learn your truth and speak it. An Arts degree is powerful and the best degree on earth. Be rightly proud and trust that it will lead you in unexpected ways into a wonderful career.”

  • Amanda McKenzie

    Amanda Mackenzie headshot

    Leadership Award

    BA, 2004
    CEO, Climate Council

    Amanda is a prominent Australian environmental leader and one of the best-known public commentators on the climate crisis in Australia.

    Back in 2013, she worked with Professor Tim Flannery at the Climate Commission. With support from some of Australia’s leading scientists, she co-founded the 100% independent and people-backed Climate Council. It was Australia’s largest crowdfunding campaign at the time. Amanda has led the organisation as its CEO for the last 10 years.

    She also co-founded the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and has served on renewable energy expert panels for the Queensland and Northern Territory Governments.

    Amanda was the founding Chair of the Centre for Australian Progress and is a former Board Director at Plan International Australia and the Whitlam Institute. She holds an Honours degree in Law from Monash University and an Arts degree from the University of Melbourne.

    Amanda has won numerous awards including being recognised as one of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence and was a finalist in the Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year Awards.

    In her own words

    "I remember very fondly my experience of being an Arts student at Melbourne University, and the skills that I have taken away that I use every day include problem-solving, critical thinking, analysis, putting together a persuasive case for an audience. And all of those skills serve me well in being an advocate on climate action. We also learned a whole range of different ethical frameworks, and I think all of that has been foundational in how I think about the world and how I’ve put together my own thinking around the climate crisis and what should be done. We have so many critical issues that face our world, face humanity – and the skills that come from an Arts degree are really crucial to approaching those."

  • Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson

    Andrew Jamieson headshot

    Contribution to Faculty and University Award

    BA (Honours) 1988, MA 1993, PhD 2006 
    Associate Professor in Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Melbourne

    Andrew Jamieson is Associate Professor in Near Eastern Archaeology in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. For more than three decades, he has been participating in archaeological fieldwork in Egypt, Georgia, Lebanon, Syria, and Australia, with a particular interest in preservation and salvage projects. In the mid-1990s, he took part in the UNESCO post-war recovery operations in Beirut. He also spent ten seasons on the rescue excavations at the Neo-Assyrian site of Tell Ahmar in northern Syria, and in 2014, he was invited to represent Australia on the committee of SHIRĪN, a research initiative designed to safeguard Syrian Heritage under threat due to conflict. He has been involved in a range of curatorial, conservation and field projects with Heritage Victoria and was a member of the Archaeology Advisory Committee of the Heritage Council of Victoria for many years. In 2017, Andrew was invited by UNESCO to become a member of their Roster of Experts. In 2019, he became the director of the Georgian-Australian Investigations in Archaeology (GAIA) project, and in the same year he received a Teaching Excellence Award from the Faculty of Arts for his winter intensive subject, Field Archaeology, an overseas field school conducted at the site of Rabati in Georgia.

    As well as teaching at Melbourne, Andrew has lectured at Monash University. In 2015, he won the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence. His dedicated focus on object-based-learning (OBL) resulted in the integration of OBL into the Engagement at Melbourne: 2015–20 strategy and the construction of specialised OBL laboratories in the Arts West building. The impact of Andrew’s OBL initiatives can be seen in their adoption at other tertiary institutions. Internationally, educators cite the pedagogical benefits of the purpose-built OBL laboratories at the University of Melbourne, noting how the immersive nature of the environment helps students better understand abstract concepts. From 2005 to 2016, as curator of the Classics and Archaeology collection at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Andrew curated 22 exhibitions.

    Andrew has also been very active in community engagement, promoting Classics and Archaeology outside the university. Eighteen years ago, he was instrumental in establishing Classics-in-the-City, a series of popular lunchtime lectures held throughout the year at Melbourne’s city-based clubs to promote the ancient world within the wider community and foster interest in the University’s activities. Andrew is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

    In his own words

    "I was very fortunate to have some amazing lecturers when I started at the University as a student in the 1980s. They were incredibly inspiring. Back then, theatres were packed and lectures were like performances.

    In my first year, research for essay on an ancient artefact in the Middle Eastern Studies collection led to an invitation to join a dig in Egypt. Call it kismet, I was hooked.

    Looking back, I realise this was an important defining moment in my career. I trace my teaching practice in object-based and experiential learning and research interests in Middle Eastern archaeology back to this opportunity, afforded to me as undergraduate student at the University of Melbourne.

    Classics and Archaeology lie at the heart of Humanities and the core mission of our program remains, as it has always been, to explore what it is to be human. It provides opportunities for students to develop a deeper understanding of contemporary society through the exploration and excavation of past human culture and activities.

    My colleague, the late Emeritus Professor Antonio Sagona summed up our program’s relevance well: ‘whereas it would be possible to live in a world without the Humanities and, in turn, Classics and Archaeology, what a boring and meaningless world it would be–bereft of memory or imagination, or any understanding of the cultural environment that has shaped all our lives.’

    I am deeply honoured to receive this Arts Alumni Award acknowledging my contribution to the Faculty and University and immensely proud to be part of a tradition that stretches back to the institution’s foundation. I enjoy imparting my knowledge and passion for the ancient world to the successive generations of students. As I tell students in my lecture on the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story from ancient Mesopotamia about life and death, love and loss, fame and friendship: ‘Hold my hand in yours, and we will not fear what hands like ours can do.’"

  • Esmé Louise James

    Esme James headshot

    Rising Star for Young Alumni Award

    BA (Hons), 2018
    PhD candidate, University of Melbourne

    Esmé Louise James (@esme.louisee) is best known for her series Kinky History which has amassed nearly 3 million followers across her social media accounts.

    Esmé is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne; her thesis traces an aesthetic of the erotic across eighteenth-century literature. She has produced a range of non-fiction articles for publications such as the Age, the ABC and the Conversation, as well as short stories and poetry, for publications such as Hardie Grant Press and Archer. In 2020, she was listed in the Top 30 Emerging Writers by SBS Australia. Esmé’s upcoming book Kinky History: The Stories Behind Our Intimate Lives, Past and Present will be published by Pantera Press in Australia, and TarcherPerigee worldwide, in 2024.

    Esmé also presents the popular Kinky History podcast, which charted to 1# History Podcast in Australia within a month of its launch. In 2022, Esmé gave a talk at TEDxSydney entitled "Writing kinky sex back into the history pages.”

    Esmé was the recipient of Screen Australia’s Every Voice initiative funding her TikTok series, SexTistics, alongside Dr Susan James. In recognition of her groundbreaking education online, Esmé was nominated for Best Digital Creator at the 2022 AACTA Awards.

    In her own words

    “The University of Melbourne has always had this admirable ability to not only recognise potential, but to find invaluable ways of fostering this talent and new ideas. I've had the honour of calling this university my second home for nearly a decade now, and this is something that has always run true. My mentors and my teachers always encourage me to follow the ideas, even if they veered from this well-trodden path. To keep following the passion that was inside of me, that refused to be silenced, even when I had absolutely no idea where it was leading.

    It's always been my belief that the practice of history is a practice in empathy... It's learning to understand humans who are so far removed from ourselves, and I think nothing brings us closer to that practice of empathy than vulnerable conversations about ourselves and our sexuality. And so while my scandalous, kinky history stories can be fun and entertaining, beneath the surface, they are so much more than that. They are stories of community, connection and compassion. And that's ultimately a story of all of us.”

  • Michael Lim

    Michael Lim headshot

    Rising Star for Young Alumni Award

    Bachelor of Arts (Hons), 2018 
    Founder and Managing Director, Beyond Value

    Michael Lim's entrepreneurial journey is characterised by his passion for social impact and his dedication to making a difference to his local community in Melbourne’s west. As a three-time award-winning social entrepreneur, he has been acknowledged for his innovative and impactful work across a range of industries such as health, education, employment, and social enterprise.

    He is currently the Founder and Managing Director of Beyond Value, a social impact consultancy helping organisations do more good.

    Prior to this role, Michael was a Director at YLab Global and previously the CEO of Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement (CHASE). Under Michael’s leadership, CHASE worked with over 1,000 students in schools across Melbourne’s west and received the inaugural WeAreBrimbank Leadership Award in 2018.

    Michael was the youngest member to appointed by the Minister for Suburban Development to be a board member of the Tarneit Revitalisation Board, Melton Revitalisation Board and Western Metropolitan Partnership, where he is currently the Chair of the Jobs and Skills Working Group.

    In his own words

    “My time at the University of Melbourne was transformational. Coming to Australia as an immigrant and growing up in a low socioeconomic background, getting access to a world-class education has had the power to change the outcomes of my life. The Arts degree taught me to think critically, empathise deeply, and communicate effectively. These skills transcend industries, empowering me in my career and life. They fostered adaptability, a crucial asset in our ever-evolving AI-powered world.

    My achievements in community service and social impact were built on the foundations of my Arts degree. I am a living testament to the enduring value of an Arts education, beyond what you learn in the classroom. But more than the skills that I learned, was the mentorship I received from my lecturers like Dr Lea Campbell and the enduring friendships I made during my time at university.”

Past recipients

  • Rising Star Award for Young Alumni past recipients
    • Esmé Louise James (2023)
    • Michael Lim (2023)
    • Ms Thenu Herath (2022)
    • Mr Izak Rosenfeld (2022)
    • Mr Abe Watson (2022)
    • Jazz Money (2021)
    • Saiful Bakhri (2020)
    • Christie (Yating) Ding (2020)
    • Dirgayuza (Yuza) Setiawan (2019)
    • Mohamed Khairat (2019)
    • Jenna Davey-Burns (2018)
    • Linh Do (2018)
    • Mr Tarang Chawla (2017)
    • Ms Morgan Koegel (2017)
    • Jason Ball (2016)
    • Lucy Thomas (2016)
    • Ms Stephanie Cousins (2015)
    • Mr Thomas Woodroofe (2015)
    • Dr Toby Ord (2014)
    • Ms Jenny Taing (2014)
    • Ms Ellen Sandell (2013)
  • Leadership Award past recipients
    • Jane Crawley (2023)
    • Amanda McKenzie (2023)
    • Mr Matt Goldberg (2022)
    • Ms Sarah Rey (2022)
    • Dr Mark McDonald (2021)
    • Dr Genevieve Timmons (2020)
    • Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM (2019)
    • Dr Nadera Hayat Burhani (2018)
    • Mr Jack Heath (2017)
    • Lily Yulianti (2016)
    • Ms Erika Feller (2015)
    • Dr Helen Szoke (2014)
  • Contribution to the Faculty and University Award past recipients
    • Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson (2023)
    • The Hon Susan Crennan AC KC (2022)
    • Margaret Quixley (2021)
    • Associate Professor Alison Inglis AM (2020)
    • Dr Ted Gott (2019)
    • Emerita Professor Patricia Grimshaw AO (2018)
    • Mr Jack Heath (2017)
    • Emeritus Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM (2016)
    • Mr Michael Bartlett (2015)
    • Professor Peter McPhee AM (2014)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award past recipients
    • The Hon. Justice Susan Kenny AM (2023)
    • Mr Frank Merlino (2022)
    • Stefano De Pieri (2021)
    • Christos Tsiolkas (2020)
    • Joanna Murray-Smith (2019)
    • Stephanie Alexander AO (2018)
    • Sir James Gobbo AC CVO KSJ QC (2017)
    • Professor Gary Foley (2016)
    • Professor Peter Singer (2015)
    • Mr Alex Miller (2014)