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Curtin University
John Curtin Day
John Curtin Medallists

Ms Pieta O’Shaughnessy (2006)

Pieta O'Shaughnessy - 2006 John Curtin Medal recipients Pieta O'Shaughnessy - 2006 John Curtin Medal recipient

Pieta O’Shaughnessy commenced working in community radio in the early days of its development, in 1976. Pieta recognised the value and impact of community radio on people’s lives and society as a whole. She helped found 6NR, which today broadcasts as Curtin FM 100.1, and thus began a lengthy association with Curtin. Pieta has since been pivotal in the growth and development of the station, her leadership having enabled it to become a valued part of the University and wider community.

Pieta also helped establish England’s first campus-based broadcaster, WEAR FM, in the early 80s.Under her direction the station was considered visionary, and received many accolades.

At Curtin FM Pieta recognised the lack of programming for the fifty-plus age group, and made it her mission to develop such a program. This has taken many forms and, on her retirement, was known as Seeking Solutions with Retirees WA. Pieta’s work in providing for this age group has been pivotal in the success of Curtin FM 100.1.

Her association with Curtin FM lead to Pieta making countless connections within the community, often highlighting causes with which she felt compelled to become involved. During an interview with Peter Sirr, the Executive Director of Outcare, Pieta was struck with compassion for the plight of the children of prison inmates, and the idea for the unique venture that is Santa’s Workshop was born.

Pieta called for donations of toys and gathered a small band of volunteers to restore those that needed attention. Initially restoration took place in a small area of the Curtin Child Care Centre next to the radio station, and the first Santa’s Workshop toys were presented to Outcare for distribution for the Christmas of 1999. Since these humble beginnings Santa’s Workshop has expanded greatly and is now based at Seven Oaks College, with the construction of additional facilities being planned for next year. Last year, toys were provided for the children of prisoners in all metropolitan prisons, plus some regional prisons. Besides Outcare, more than 15 other groups also received donations.

In 2002 Pieta’s passion for and dedication to Curtin FM was more evident than ever after a decision was made to close the station. Through troubled times, Pieta was an inspirational leader to the station volunteers and staff, and a key figure in developing the strategy which convinced the University to reverse its decision. Soon after, she became Acting Station Manager.

Pieta has been involved in countless other community projects, and is a particularly strong supporter of Boronia Pre-Release Centre for Women, coordinating donations for the Centre’s toy library and hampers at Christmas, as well as highlighting issues facing Boronia on her program. 

Pieta O’Shaughnessy is indeed a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal.