2015 Award Ceremony
The John Curtin Medal is awarded by Curtin University to people who have made a significant contribution in their chosen field in Australia or internationally and who have exhibited John Curtin's qualities of vision, leadership and community service. You can view the Award ceremony below, or read more about the recipients.
Dr C Kaye Brand (2015)
Kaye Brand placed community service ahead of a career as a successful physiotherapist in order to understand and teach people about fibromyalgia - a debilitating medical condition she was diagnosed with 20 years ago, and which impacts thousands of Australians each year.
Fibromyalgia is a challenging condition that causes widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons and ligaments and can affect many aspects of a person’s life.
At the time she was diagnosed, Kaye found that there was very little research, education and support for people with the condition in Australia. She made it her mission to source the latest assessments, treatment options, research papers and medical specialists, and share this information with others affected by the disease
Kaye’s vision to raise awareness of fibromyalgia amongst the broader community was aided by the completion of her PhD in 2005, which focussed on investigating the urinary symptoms of fibromyalgia. In the process, she developed the Fibromyalgia Bladder Index, which is currently used by clinicians.
Kaye quickly established herself as a leader in the area of fibromyalgia public education and support. She has never stopped increasing her knowledge and reach.
This culminated in her founding the Western Australian Fibromyalgia Network in 2007. The not-for-profit organisation has since grown significantly. Starting with only two people, the organisation now has more than 1,700 members and has been hugely successful in bringing together thousands of individuals affected by the disorder.
This spectacular growth is testament to Kaye’s leadership, courage and self-sacrifice.
Through small community grants and fundraising activities, the Network is now financially self-supporting. Kaye has personally fund-raised for the Fibromyalgia Support Network, including $20,000 in the 2015 HBF Run for a Reason, making her the third highest individual fundraiser for the event.
In collaboration with Rachael West (creator of Yoga for Pain), Kaye developed the first Australian-based fibromyalgia management course: ‘Finding your Feet with Fibromyalgia’, which comprises a two-day workshop, focussed on movement and pain management.
At 68 years of age, Kaye is a role model not only to people with fibromyalgia, but many others. She has triumphed over her own health issues, completed her PhD, led and organised educator forums and built community networks and services to improve care and support for people with the condition.
She personifies the determination and commitment it takes to triumph over adversity, and continues to inspire her personal and professional community. She is a worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal 2015.
Mr Ezzard Flowers and the late Mr Angus Wallam (2015)
Aboriginal Elders Mr Ezzard Flowers and the late Mr Angus Wallam were central figures in consultations with the Noongar community to repatriate the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup artworks to Australia in May 2013.
The Collection was produced by children of the Stolen Generation at the Carrolup Native Settlement between 1946 and 1951. Years after the Carrolup School had closed, the Collection was sold to New York art collector Herbert Mayer by school benefactor Florence Rutter. Mayer donated them to Colgate University in 1966 and they lay ‘lost’ in storage in the university’s gallery until their rediscovery by a visiting Australian academic in 2004.
In 2012, after years of visiting Australia and learning about Noongar culture, Colgate Professor Ellen Kraly recognised that the Collection belonged in Australia. A year of extensive collaboration between Curtin and Colgate followed, with Mr Flowers and Mr Wallam the central figures in consultations with the Noongar people connected to Carrolup, which resulted in the Collection being brought home.
Mr Wallam had been a caretaker at the Carrolup School. He was dedicated to serving the children and supporting future generations. Mr Flowers was an Indigenous mental health specialist whose focus was on healing and positivity.
Together, with their common bond as members of the Stolen Generation, a passionate commitment to their culture, and a strong belief in preserving a legacy for future generations, they helped to restore more than an art collection – they helped to restore the souls and identity of many of their people.
The intent with which they lived – to enable healing, cultural identity, learning and a better tomorrow for future generations – drove them to a life of serving the community.
Their active, open-minded and open-hearted role in the relationship with Curtin and Colgate - and particularly Professor Kraly and her students who visited Carrolup over many years - resulted in the Collection returning home under safe custodianship. It has also ensured the preservation of the artworks for future generations.
Mr Flowers and Mr Wallam gave much of their personal time and energy to Curtin and Colgate universities over many years.
Mr Flowers continues to be involved as part of the Curtin Carrolup Elders Reference Group, which ensures that the Collection is accessible, used purposefully and in continued service to the community.
Mr Wallam passed away only a short while after the Collection returned home, and his contribution continued up until that time. In recognition of his service and his role in the community, he is an honorary member of Curtin’s Carrolup Elders Reference Group.
The artworks have been an avenue for historical reflection, unearthing stories and family histories, for healing and strengthening culture.
The Collection represents an important part of Noongar history, Western Australian history and Australian history, and the contribution Mr Flowers and Mr Wallam have made to its return home make them both worthy recipients of the John Curtin Medal 2015.
Sian White OAM (2015)
From an early age Sian White has put the needs of others before her own. As a young child she collected shoes and distributed them to children who didn't have any, and throughout her school, university and work life she continued as an active volunteer and fund-raiser.
At the age of 15 she was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for her volunteer and humanitarian work, becoming the youngest recipient worldwide. A year later, she became an Honorary Rotarian of the Scarborough Rotary Club of Western Australia as a result of her outstanding charity work.
Whilst a scholar at St Brigid’s School in Perth in 2002, Sian organised a ‘Battle of the Bands’ concert with the aim of raising funds for the Wheelchairs for Kids charity. The concert was a huge success and helped to raise enough funds for 61 wheelchairs.
Sian was awarded a John Curtin Undergraduate Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Information) at Curtin University in 2005. She joined Curtin Volunteers! as soon as she commenced and, not surprisingly, she soon became President of Curtin Volunteers!
Whilst studying at Curtin, Sian initiated three charity projects in India, which relied heavily on her hard work and dedication, and the generosity of Rotarians at home and abroad.
The projects included the rebuilding of a girls’ school, the building of hostels for blind and deaf children, and building and equipping a unique Vocational Training Centre to empower people with disabilities by providing them with meaningful employment opportunities.
During the four years it took to complete these projects, Sian travelled to India regularly at her own expense, further evidencing her humanitarian spirit.
In 2009, as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, Sian worked on the National Tuberculosis Prevention Program in Papua New Guinea. She spent four years undertaking this work, eventually becoming the National TB Program Manager for World Vision.
Over the past years, Sian has organised fund raising events for many different international humanitarian causes, including the victims of Hurricane Mitch in Central America, the World Vision Kosovo Appeal, the Indian Earthquake Appeal, Worldwide Polio Eradication, Free the Bears Fund, the Red Cross Ethiopian Appeal, and the 2004 Tsunami Appeal.
Through her tireless dedication to supporting others less fortunate in Australia and around the world, Sian has raised more than $260,000 for charities and emergency relief appeals.
She has also represented Australia at many leadership and humanitarian conferences.
There has seldom been a time when Sian has not been engaged in helping others. She has shown great vision and leadership in her approach to the many causes she supports and has inspired the many people and communities she has worked with.
Sian is a humanitarian and an optimist, driven by the belief that every person can make a difference. She is a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal 2015.