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Curtin University
John Curtin Day
John Curtin Medallists

Past Recipients (1998 - 2003)

2003    2002    2001    2000    1999    1998


John Fawcett

John Fawcett has dedicated over 15 years of his life to helping the Balinese community. Through the John Fawcett Foundation, which he established in 1989, John has provided medical help to thousands of Balinese by treating health problems such as blindness, cataracts and cleft palates.

Work undertaken since receiving the John Curtin Medal

Since John Fawcett established the John Fawcett Foundation in 2000, the foundation has grown to provide free medical aid to thousands of disadvantaged Balinese people. These services include children’s corrective surgery, prosthetic eyes and other sight restoration procedures, assistance to desperately ill children and young people, and blindness prevention strategies.

For his exemplary humanitarian services, John and the foundation have gone on to receive wide recognition.

In the year John was awarded the John Curtin Medal, then Prime Minister John Howard granted aid funds to the Bali Department of Health to build a memorial eye treatment centre so that John’s work could continue and expand.

John was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2004, and in 2008, then Indonesian president Dr H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presented him with the Satyalancana Kebaktian Sosial (National Indonesian Award), for his outstanding humanitarian work in Indonesia, especially in the provision of free cataract surgery to the poor in Bali and Nusa Tenggara Barat.

John received the Bishop Hale Medal in 2010, from his former high school, Hale School in Perth. In Indonesia, he was recognised also in 2010 for the foundation’s participation in the Corporate Social Responsibility program of the City of Denpasar (eye screening and cataract operations). He also received an appreciation award for the foundation’s support during the Air Force’s community humanitarian activities.

In 2006 and 2008, the John Fawcett Foundation was selected by the Balinese Government as the best foundation/NGO working in Indonesia.

John attributes the foundation’s success in Indonesia to the work of many dedicated volunteers. These include logistics people in Australia who organise medical equipment and supplies, fundraising volunteers, and medical personnel who travel to Bali to teach local doctors and medical staff new surgical techniques.

Sadly, John Fawcett passed away in August 2017.

Doug Paling

Since 1994 Doug Paling has worked tirelessly to help feed the underprivileged in WA. He established Foodbank, a major community organisation that has forged important links with 400 community and welfare support agencies, by receiving, collecting and redistributing over 1.2 million kilograms of food annually.

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Brother Thomas Oliver Pickett

Brother Olly has given more than 40 years to helping others. His work has ranged from teaching and coordinating work-skill programs for at-risk-youth, to his current work manufacturing low cost wheel chairs for children from around the world who are landmine and polio victims.

Work undertaken since receiving the John Curtin Medal

Since being awarded the John Curtin medal in 2002, Brother Olly is still involved with Wheelchairs for Kids Inc. (which is under the banner of the Rotary Club of Scarborough), where he is Volunteer Workshop Manager.

The organisation has 190 volunteers during the week, averaging 45 volunteers a day, and makes 400 wheelchairs per month. More than 37,000 wheelchairs have been donated to disabled children in developing countries since the project commenced in 1998.

In 2010, Wheelchairs for Kids developed a wheelchair for children following the guidelines of the World Health Organization, in which the wheelchair ‘grows’ in size as the child grows. Postural support devices have been developed to ensure that even the most disabled child can use the wheelchair with as much comfort as possible.

Besides the volunteers who work in the organisation’s four factories in Wangara, there are more than 70 women who sew the covers for the wheelchair’s backrest cushions, the hip and trunk supports and headrest cushions. There are also hundreds of women, and some men, who knit and crochet colourful knee rugs and soft toys, which are sent as gifts with every wheelchair donated.

To date, underprivileged and disabled children in 172 countries have been given a wheelchair, with each wheelchair fitted to the needs of the recipient as best as possible. The Adjusta wheelchair enables the disabled child to be off the ground and enjoy mobility with dignity.

Brother Olly remains passionate and committed to what he considers a very rewarding project.

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Mary Roskams

Mary’s work with AusAid assisting international students has had a lasting impact on Australian diplomatic, trade and cultural relationships throughout the world.

Barry Jones

Barry Jones has been a teacher, lawyer and Member of Parliament, and in each role he has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to science. He is a strong and powerful advocate for scientific research and development.

Work undertaken since receiving the John Curtin Medal

Dr Barry Jones has remained heavily involved in community work since he was awarded the John Curtin Medal in 2001.

Having once served as National President of the Australian Labor Party from 1992 to 2000, he again held office from 2005 to 2006.

His involvement in public affairs since 2001 has been extensive. In 2010, he was a Member of the Australian Delegation to the World Heritage Committee in Brazil. From 2008 to 2015 he was Director of Victorian Opera. He has served on numerous boards in various organisations, including as Chair.

Dr Jones became Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne in 2007 and, since 1999, has been Adjunct Professor at Monash University and a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge.

He has published numerous books, including Coming to the Party (2006), A Thinking Reed (2006), Dictionary of World Biography (2013; 2016), The Shock of Recognition (2016) and Knowledge Courage Leadership (2016).

He has been generously recognised since 2001, with Honorary Doctorates from the University of Melbourne (LLD, 2002), Australian National University (DLitt, 2004) and Griffith University (DUniv, 2011). He received the Research Australia Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and was awarded an AC (Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014.

Dr Jones continues to campaign for “rational, compassionate, evidence-based approaches” to key issues such as the refugee crisis, growing tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim societies and communities, meeting the challenge of climate change and moving towards a post-carbon economy, among numerous other causes.

John Embling & Heather Pilcher

John and Heather have devoted the last 25 years to helping young people who are victims of homelessness, drugs abuse, racism and violence. They offer shelter, refuge and hope to a generation of abandoned youth.

Vanessa Elliott

Vanessa has spent recent years improving opportunities for Indigenous communities, especially those within the remote north-west community of Halls Creek. Her work has included initiating and implementing youth programs.

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Chris Lewis

Chris is a former footballer who uses his sporting profile to serve the community, working with youth groups and schools and, in particular, young Aboriginal people.

Granny Smith Gold Mines

This is the first company to be awarded the Medal for its work with native title claimants for a just resolution. The Company has established an industry benchmark for working with indigenous communities and for sustainable practices in mine site rehabilitation.

Dame Rachel Cleland

The late Dame Rachel was an active environmentalist whose work focussed on saving old-growth forests in south-west WA. She also dedicated much of her life to developing associations for the women of Papua New Guinea.

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Peter Moyes

Peter’s vision for creating a progressive education system has focussed on community attitudes about education and he’s provided intellectual and motivational leadership to promote change.

Monique Lin

Completing postgraduate studies in 1990, Monique has demonstrated extraordinary leadership qualities, forging links between China and WA. She has been named as one of China’s 20 best-known women business leaders.

Professor Tommy Koh

Professor Koh works to promote environmental responsibility and reduce international conflict, is a champion of the arts and an activist for greater creative freedom in Singapore. His work has seen him support difficult and unpopular cases.

Margaret Culbong

Margaret has improved the health and welfare of Aboriginal people by setting up Aboriginal controlled health services and raising the profile of Aboriginal health issues in WA.

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Dr Eric Tan

Pioneered endoscopic ‘key hole’ surgery in Australia, teaching the technique overseas, and was the first overseas student to graduate at the top of his class at any medical school in Australia. He is a campaigner against racism, helped to establish the WA Chinese Chamber of Commerce and set up the Project Employ Youth during the last recession, finding work for more than 1000 young people.

Dr George O’Neil

Dr O’Neil is best known for his life-saving work in the treatment of drug addiction. He has designed medical equipment, which is simpler, safer, more efficient and cost-effective to previous alternatives. His tireless work for others includes designing a better pain management system and processes to ease diarrhoea in sick children of developing countries.

Work undertaken since receiving the John Curtin Medal

Dr O’Neil’s work in the treatment of drug addiction and in more accurate drug delivery has continued to deliver research and service opportunities since 1985.

Since the year he was awarded the John Curtin Medal in 1998, his work has been shared with Curtin’s School of Pharmacy, The University of Western Australia’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, the Fresh Start Recovery Programme, Go Medical Industries Pty Ltd and the Department of Health in WA, allowing the development of new industries and improved patient care.

Dr O’Neil has been awarded a series of medals including the Australian Medical Association Outstanding Doctor of the Year 1999, WA Citizen of the Year 2000 - awarded by Perth City Council - and Australian Entrepreneur of the Year 2002.

In almost 20 years since the award, 11,500 patients have presented to the Fresh Start Recovery Programme, which Dr O’Neil founded. The drug addiction recovery program has established properties and services to care for patients and their families in Busselton, two locations in Northam, Kewdale, Subiaco, Mt Lawley, Warwick and Alexander Heights.

As a result of research published in more than 100 publications by Professor Gary Hulse and Dr Stuart Reece, who have both worked closely with Dr O’Neil, an increasing number of addiction specialists in Europe, the US and Australia today accept that opioid addicts and benzodiazepine addicts are best treated with opioid blockers with new delivery systems Dr O’Neil developed in Perth, which are useful in the management of amphetamines and alcohol addictions and benzodiazepine addictions, in addition to heroin addiction.

These improvements have been associated with the development of naltrexone implants produced by Go Medical Industries, a company Dr O’Neil developed in Subiaco in 1985.

The new treatments are now attracting interest from the US government, with work currently commencing at Columbia University in New York. The locally made implants are also being used in Europe.

May O’Brien

May O’Brien taught in rural and metropolitan schools for over 25 years before establishing the Aboriginal Committees on Education in WA. She also played an instrumental role in setting up Curtin’s Aboriginal bridging course, providing young Aboriginal people with the chance to receive a tertiary education.

Priya Cooper

Priya is a paralympian who has won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals for her efforts in the pool. She holds an Order of Australia medal, has been an Australia Day Ambassador, Ambassador for Sydney 2000 and was nominated for WA Sports Champion of the Year and Coca-Cola Sports Star of the Year, among others.

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