Heather Stewart and Michael Williams, joint winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Award
Heather Stewart and Michael Williams, joint winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Award
27 May 2010

A project which has attracted international University interest in advancing appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples and issues through the student learning experience is this year’s main prize winner in the 2010 UQ Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Awards.

The awards presented this evening, Thursday, May 27, are a highlight of the University’s annual Diversity Week.

The $10,000 prize was presented to the Indigenous Voice Project’s Heather Stewart of the UQ School of Journalism and Communication and Michael Williams, head of the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit.

Indigenous Voice is run by the UQ School of Journalism and Communication.

It aims to develop cross-cultural awareness, investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander journalism and communication student intake, retention and graduate outcomes and develop resources for journalism students covering Indigenous issues.

The project is run under the guidance of the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit and education, community and industry media partners.

It currently includes SBS, ABC, 989fm, National Indigenous Radio Service, Koori Mail, National Native News (US), Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Native American Journalists Association, National Indigenous Times, IRCA, AICA, Triple-A Training, Batchelor Institute, UTS, Griffith, QUT, Edith Cowan University, University of Montana, University of British Columbia, SABAR (Canada), University of Toronto and Murdoch University.

Ms Stewart said the project was passing on the skill set to journalists to cover Indigenous issues in an informed way and the research was paving the way to significant on-going national and international collaborations.

Mr Williams said the project had potential to have a significant impact on the place of journalism and representation of Indigenous people in the media.

He said students, in particular Indigenous students, had gained enormous inspiration from this project.

"It gives them hope they can have a role in the world of the media and make a difference," he said.

The project has just hosted an Indigenous Voice Closing the Gap and Putting Communication for Social Change into Practice Forum in the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Program hosted by UQ earlier this month.

The first of a series of documentaries has been started featuring Susan Moylan-Coombs, the executive producer from ABC’s Message Stick program. The documentaries will be made accessible to students and the media industry and feature the trials and triumphs of Indigenous media workers.

Other awards announced tonight are:

• The $5000 runner-up for the 2010 Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Award is The University of Queensland United Nations Millennium Development Goals project, represented by Ms Alicia Veasey.

The project is jointly supported by the UQ School of Medicine and the UQ Medical Society.

Ms Veasey said the project aimed to produce UQ medical graduates who are keenly aware, motivated and equipped to actively address the responsibility of global health inequalities throughout their careers.

“The Project will use the prize award to create an Australian Indigenous health elective bursary and developing world health elective bursary,” she said.

• The 2010 Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Equity and Diversity Award is made to UNICEF Pakistan communications officer and UQ Master of Development Practice alumnus Ms Shandana Aurangzeb Durrani, for contributions in the areas of social justice and gender relations.

Denied her her right to higher education, and forced into marriage at a very young age, she vowed to change things for other women and children of Pakistan.

With no financial or moral support from her family, she completed a Masters degree in Business Administration at the University of Peshawar, worked in positions throughout the social justice sector, and was awarded the AusAid, Fulbright, and Chevening scholarships, which allowed her to study at UQ.

Ms Durrani’s work for UNICEF has continually shed light on the plights of her country’s most vulnerable residents. She also offers support to women and young girls in Pakistan who are victims of sexual abuse and assault.

• This year the University has made a special 2010 Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and Diversity Centenary award to philanthropists and UQ alumni Andrew and Jennifer Brice.

Andrew has a long association with the University, supporting the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, based upon the success of his accounting practice, AH Jackson & Co.

After the commercial success of the business venture Wotif.com with fellow UQ graduate Graeme Wood, Andrew and Graeme established the UQ Endowment Fund (UQef)to support scholarships, professorial chairs and research programs in areas of emerging need.

Andrew and Jennifer have most recently been committed to the UQ Young Achievers program, encouraging talented high school students who may not have considered university as an option due to family situation, marginalisation or financial circumstances. They work in partnership with the UQ Office of Prospective Students & Scholarships.

Jennifer Brice said the Brice family was “excited by this innovative scholarship idea and can’t wait to see how the recipients participate and benefit over the coming intake years”.

“We really feel that everyone should have the opportunity to attend University, regardless of their circumstances,” she said.

Tonight’s awards ceremony also featured a lively panel discussion at the UQ Centre, St Lucia, facilitated by ABC broadcaster, Richard Fidler, on the topic: Our Global Community — Reflections and Predictions. Guest panelists were globalisation educational policy expert Professor Fazal Rizvi of the University of Illinois and UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (International) Dr Anna Ciccarelli.
Media: Jan King 0413 601 248