Roly Sussex is one of three Australia Day Ambassadors from UQ for 2016.
Roly Sussex is one of three Australia Day Ambassadors from UQ for 2016.
22 January 2016

A trio of change-makers from The University of Queensland will be saying ‘g’day’ to regional and remote Aussie towns to help capture the true spirit of Australia Day.

Languages expert Roly Sussex, art expert Sally Butler and historian Kay Saunders have volunteered to visit communities in the Torres Strait Islands, the Barcaldine Shire and Oakey as Australia Day Ambassadors.

They will be “adopted” by the local communities to share in Australia Day celebrations on 26 January.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the ambassadors from UQ would play a key role in local celebrations, which could include anything from presenting certificates to competing in cricket matches.

“They will deliver the keynote speech, which is a wonderful opportunity to enthuse and encourage their fellow Australians with an important message: that you don’t have to live in a major city to create positive change or to tread new ground,” Professor Høj said.

Professorial Research Fellow Roly Sussex is an energetic campaigner for the importance of languages, including the correct use of English and the study of second languages. He will visit Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.

Sally ButlerSally Butler is an Associate Professor in Art History, advancing the profile of Australian Indigenous art, curating exhibitions and writing about art, specialising in contemporary Australian –  and particularly Queensland –  art. She will visit Alpha and Aramac in the Barcaldine Shire in Central Queensland.

Emeritus Professor Kay Saunders has an honours degree in anthropology and sociology from UQ, and a PhD in history and anthropology. She has worked as a lecturer and professor at UQ. Her passion for Queensland’s history has led to involvement with the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Queensland Historical Society. She will visit Oakey in South East Queensland.

Professor Høj said Australia’s great success as a nation was grounded in the knowledge leadership demonstrated by people such as the ambassadorial trio.

“Australia’s universities are full of talented and driven people who play a huge role in the nation’s development, research and innovation, cultural identity and understanding of the world around us,” he said.

Kay Saunders“I hope that people in smaller Queensland communities are inspired by meeting some of the raw enthusiasm and expertise that comes from UQ, a top-tier Australian university that places in the top 50 of three key global university rankings.

The Australia Day Ambassador program sends high-achieving and proud Australians to local Australia Day celebrations across the nation. It began in 1990 with nine ambassadors in New South Wales.

Emeritus Professor Sussex said the day was a prime opportunity to celebrate the distinctive aspects of Australia as a place to live and work. This includes some things that Australians can take for granted:

“We can breathe the air and drink the water,” he said.

“We don’t get killed by bombs on the way to the shop for a litre of milk. We can travel freely inside and outside Australia. We have access to quality health care and education.”

“And we will drop everything to help fellow Australians clean up after floods, cyclones and bushfires.”

Media: UQ Communications: 07 3346 0561 or