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Excellence, leadership, service and impact recognised at annual awards

Gala dinner celebrates 2017 Fellowships and Alumni Awards. 

Four prominent University of Wollongong (UOW) alumni and four distinguished members of the University community have been recognised for their excellence, leadership, service and impact at the 2017 Fellowship and Alumni Awards, held last night (Thursday 19 October).

The formal award presentation ceremony was the centrepiece of a gala dinner held at the University’s Innovation Campus attended by more than 200 guests.

UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings, congratulated the 2017 Alumni Award and University Fellowship recipients.

“So many alumni and members of the UOW community have a positive and lasting impact on the world, I am especially proud though of those being formally recognised in 2017.

“They’ve all, in their own unique way, contributed to UOW’s continuing success,” Professor Wellings said.



From the University’s 140,000 alumni community around the world, four Alumni are selected annually to receive the prestigious awards:

Alumni Award for Professional Excellence - Mr Matt Bullock

An innovator in the world of e-commerce, Matt Bullock’s foresight and entrepreneurialism has seen him achieve profound international success, which he has used to establish the Spinify Foundation, a registered charity in Australia which supports such non-profit organisations as OzHarvest, Ronald McDonald House, and the Kiln Incubator in Canberra.

Alumni Award for Research and Innovation - Dr John Best

With an eye for unearthing innovative products and processes, Dr John Best has made his mark on an international scale. Now Vice-President, Chief Technical Officer of Thales Australia responsible for the company’s technical capabilities, Dr Best spearheaded a visionary research and development program with UOW’s Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) that led to the development of The Bushmaster, the world’s most successful wheeled armoured vehicle.

The Bushmaster has seen extensive service in Afghanistan, protecting the lives of Australian and Coalition service men and women.

Young Alumni Award - Mr Deng Adut

Out of a seemingly hopeless start to life, emerged a remarkable tale of determination to succeed. Born in South Sudan, at the age of six, Deng Adut was kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier in the brutal civil war which tore his country apart.

After being granted asylum in Australia, Deng’s life took a dramatic turn for the better. He was able to gain an education, learn English and through sheer hard work managed to put himself through extensive tertiary studies. Deng graduated with a Master of Laws (Criminal Prosecution) from UOW in 2014 before co-founding AC Law Group in Western Sydney where he offers free legal aid to troubled youth in Western Sydney. Deng’s law firm takes on at least two pro bono cases a week in the interests of fairness and justice.

Alumni Award for Social Impact - Ms Sally Riley

Sally Riley has gone from strength to strength in the media world, fulfilling her vision to expand the consciousness of television audiences about Indigenous life and culture. A woman of the Wiradjuri nation, Sally – a UOW Alumna with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Theatre) - has carved out a high profile career as a film-maker, writer, developer and producer.

Sally won the AFI Award for Best Short Film in 2000 for Confessions of a Head-hunter, was appointed to the then Australian Film Commission in 2002 and has substantially contributed to changing the common perception (and misperceptions) of Indigenous life in the Australian community.



University Fellowships are granted by the University in recognition of outstanding achievement, exceptional service and significant contributions.

Sandra McCarthy

Deeply committed to social justice, Sandra McCarthy has spent her career creating meaningful connections and building and sharing knowledge to enhance human health, both locally and globally.

Ian Brown

In a distinguished career at the forefront of education, Ian Brown has demonstrated a gift for innovation and leadership, and a depth of understanding and commitment to teacher education in Australia that has transformed the sector.

Christine Thompson

Christine Thompson was admitted as a Fellow for taking the concept of ‘giving back’ to a whole new level, dedicating her life to supporting others and building a strong and connected community.

Paul Sharrad

As both an acclaimed researcher and engaged educator, Paul Sharrad has not only made a significant and sustained contribution to scholarship in his field, but also to the University’s international reputation and engagement.

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