13 December 2000

Eminent Queenslanders to address UQ graduates

Two eminent Queenslanders who have achieved wide recognition and acclaim in their fields will address graduates at University of Queensland ceremonies on Wednesday, December 13.

Former Deputy Director-General and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Dr Colin Power, and Dr David Brereton, Director of Research and Corruption Prevention at the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission (CJC), will be guest speakers at ceremonies in Mayne Hall at the University's St Lucia campus.

The ceremonies, starting at 4pm and 6.15pm, will feature undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University's Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Dr Power will address the first ceremony, with graduates specialising in areas such as education, journalism and government, and Dr Brereton the later ceremony, with psychology, social science and social work graduates.

Dr Power was UNESCO Deputy Director-General from 1999 to 2000 and Assistant Director-General for Education from 1989 to 1998, the most senior post ever held by an Australian.

He is best known academically for his research on science education and teaching processes, and internationally for advancing all-of-life education and the status of teachers.

Dr Brereton, an adjunct professor in UQ's Department of Sociology and Anthropology, holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.

He is a member of the Queensland Crime Prevention Taskforce and the National Expert Advisory Committee on Illicit Drugs and was a member of the 1996 Review of the Queensland Police Service.

* The University will honour two of its outstanding academics at the 4pm ceremony. Dr Nan Bahr and Professor William Tow are among seven University academics to be honoured in the 2000 Awards for Excellence in Teaching, and will be presented with their awards by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ted Brown. Dr Bahr, a lecturer in the Graduate School of Education, has set a new benchmark for the University for her online programs at UQ Ipswich and has led the rewriting and rebuilding of teacher education programs within the University. Professor Tow, from the University's Department of Government, has overseen the development of a widely recognised international relations program and has developed an international reputation as a scholar in security studies and Asian politics.

Graduates of interest include:

* Dr Kerry Green (telephone 07 3365 3108), whose doctoral thesis deals with readership research conducted by Australian newspapers and its apparent lack of success. Dr Green says a huge research "divide" exists in Australian newspapers, with only the large metropolitan newspapers conducting quality readership research. "Journalists on smaller papers, especially weekly newspapers in rural areas, have little access to meaningful research that would help them make good news decisions," he said. "Yet a national survey I conducted shows such decision-makers are strongly in favour of readership research support. The survey showed that while the major newspapers conducted considerable readership research, middle-level executive journalists remained largely unaware of it and generally failed to put recommendations into practice." He said journalists had to learn to be less sensitive about allowing market research into the newsroom. "With appropriate staff structures, it is possible for journalists to maintain control of the news agenda while reaping the benefits of quality market research."

* Catholic priest Dr Trevor Cullen (telephone 07 3365 3088), who will receive a PhD for his analysis of press coverage of HIV/AIDS in the South Pacific. Dr Cullen, has campaigned for greater awareness of the disease in the region, has addresses several major conferences on the issue and last year organised a workshop to educate Papua New Guinea journalists. "HIV/AIDS is on the increase throughout the 21 countries and territories in South Pacific region," Dr Cullen said. "The executive head of the United Nations AIDS program (UNAIDS), Dr Peter Piot, predicts that within the next 10 years HIV infections rates in the South Pacific's largest country, Papua New Guinea, could resemble the current situation in some Sub-Saharan African countries where the virus has infected more than 25 per cent of the population. I looked at what part could the media could play in light of the impending public health disaster."

* A study of the effects of parental favouritism has earned a PhD for Dr Grania Sheehan (telephone 03 9214 7865). Dr Sheehan, a research fellow with the Australian Institute for Family Studies, says favouritism by parents has an equally negative impact on both favoured and disfavoured children. She observed family interaction and conflict resolution in 200 families of adolescent twins aged between 12 and 18. "Favoured and disfavoured children resolved sibling conflict in destructive ways compared to children where there was no favouritism," Dr Sheehan said. "For example, favoured and disfavoured children were more aggressive towards their sibling, avoided resolving sibling conflict and engaged in less problem-solving behaviour during sibling conflict than children who reported equal treatment." Dr Sheehan comes from a strong academic background, with her father Professor Peter Sheehan the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University and mother Professor Mary Sheehan a Professor of Social Science, Head of School of Psychology and Counselling at the Queensland University of Technology.

* A realisation that career advancement and satisfaction would depend on gaining academic qualifications has proven a turning point in the life of mature-age Bachelor of Social Science graduate Ingrid Cucchi (telephone 0402 463 685). Ms Cucchi, a single mother, gave up a full-time job as an employment consultant three years ago for full-time study and part-time work. "I just felt that I had the ability to do more, and it just got to the point where it didn't seem to matter what I did, there was not a great future," she said. Although it proved a challenge for her and daughter Elizabeth, 12, Ms Cucchi said she "really enjoyed" university and said her course had shown her "how to do things better, and how to tap into knowledge better, rather than just the gaining of knowledge." Ms Cucchi's outstanding academic performance saw her included on the Dean's Honours List for every semester of study except one. She will move to Canberra in February after having accepted a position in social policy development in the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. "My areas of interest are in working with the long-term unemployed and in the Indigenous Employment Program," she says. Ms Cucchi is among the first 12 students to graduate as a Bachelor of Social Science from the University, as the degree was only established in 1998.

For more information, contact Brad Turner at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2659), or email us at communications@mailbox.uq.edu.au