Flinders University’s past and present staff and graduates have been praised for their outstanding contributions to the community is this year’s Australia Day awards and honours, with a total of 16 awards given to University affiliates.
Flinders Professor Graeme Young (pictured), a world-leading gastroenterologist, was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medicine through a range of research, clinical and academic roles, particular his instrumental role in developing the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
It comes on the back of another major milestone for the Professor of Global Gastrointestinal Health, who was recently named the 2013 South Australian Scientist of the Year.
Esteemed Flinders staff member, graduate and longest-serving Mayor of Marion, Dr Felicity-ann Lewis, was also named a finalist in the 2014 Australian of the Year Awards.
Dr Lewis, a Senior Lecturer in Health Curriculum Studies at Flinders since 1999, became South Australia’s Australian of the Year in November 2013 for her contributions to the community, particularly for efforts to further reconciliation with Aboriginal people, and to support the settlement process for refugees and migrants.
Former staff member Professor Michael Cousins was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to medicine through specialised tertiary curriculum development as a researcher and advocate for reform and human rights in the field of pain, and as an author and mentor.
Flinders Associate Professor Carolyn Palmer was named an AM for significant service to the community, particularly to people who are blind or vision impaired. Associate Professor Palmer has been a valued member of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law since 1991, in roles ranging from Lecturer and Dean of the School of Special Education and Disability Studies to Director of Postgraduate Programs and Associate Professor in Education.
Adjunct Clinical Lecturer Mrs Susan Charlton was made an AM for her significant service to the community through a range of philanthropic and charitable organisations, and to physiotherapy.
Former staff member Dr Graham Fleming was made an AM for significant service to medicine in rural South Australia, and as an advocate in the field of mental health and suicide prevention.
Flinders alumni Mr Michael Hewitson (DipT, 1970) was made an AM for significant service to education, to the Anglican Church in Australia, and to the community of Unley, while Professor Ian North (MA (Hums) (Res), 1978) was made an AM for significant service to the visual arts as a photographer, curator and educator.
Singer, songwriter and Flinders alumni Mr John Schumann received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to music and to the veteran community. Mr Schumann was awarded a Flinders Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008 for his contribution to Australian music and to social justice.
Mrs Ann Smith was awarded an OAM for service to the community through the mental health sector. A Flinders graduate (GradCertHlth, 2001), Mrs Smith was a representative on the Flinders University reference group research project ‘Effectiveness of Community Treatment Orders’.
Flinders alumni Ms Brenda Aynsley (BA, 1982, DipSocSc, 1984) received an OAM for service to the information and communications technology sector; Mr Nicholas Dean (BEc, 1973) received an OAM for service to sport, particularly athletes with a disability; Reverend John Neill (BEd, 1972) received an OAM for service to education, and to the Catholic Church in Australia, and Mr Francis Wong (DipAcc, 1987) received an OAM for service to business and to the community.
Mrs Rhondda Vassallo (GCertPubSecMgmt, 2010) was awarded a Public Service Medal for outstanding public service, particularly to people with a disability and their families, and Mr Robert Elliott (BHlthSc (AmbSt), 2003) was awarded an Ambulance Service Medal.
Professor Young, who played a fundamental role in establishing the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, including the Cancer Prevention Unit, said he was particularly delighted to be recognised for his translational research in bowel cancer screening and prevention.
“It’s truly wonderful to be involved in research that makes new discoveries and provides new knowledge but then goes beyond that to change entire healthcare systems in ways we can actually measure and show benefit to the community,” Professor Young said.
“Personally I feel very proud of the part I played in helping to make the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) become part of mainstream clinical practice and health policy, and then to be able to measure the impact on the health of the community,” he said.
“Our first area of research showed the need to use a particular type of screening technology, which is now being used in the NBCSP, our second area involved behavioural studies showing how to best engage more people in doing the test and the third study showed that people who are diagnosed as a result of participating in the NBCSP have a much better prognosis.
“Knowing that the program is helping save lives – and being acknowledged for my role in its establishment – makes all those years of hard work by the excellent teams I have had the privilege to work with worthwhile.”
As the chief investigator on a major international project, Professor Young is also influencing the global strategy on infant deaths from diarrhoea in developing countries by improving the current treatment using resistant starch and developing preventive measures to target zinc deficiency.
Together with international colleagues, his teams have received almost $14 million in research grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and studies are now underway in Bangladesh, Malawi and India to gather the necessary information to reshape global policy.
His research on gastroenterology in Australia has also attracted millions of dollars in grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council over the years.