Melbourne Football Club president Jim Stynes OAM was awarded Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) highest honour, Doctor of the University, in recognition of his service to the community, particularly in the areas of youth depression, homelessness and suicide.
One of AFL’s most celebrated players, and the only player recruited from outside Australia to win the prestigious Brownlow Medal, Jim’s legacy extends far beyond his football career – to building resilience and inspiring greatness in young people.
Jim Stynes with his god daughter Sarah O'Conner
In 1994 Jim co‐founded the youth charity, Reach Foundation, with the vision that every young person will receive the support and self‐belief they need to fulfil their potential.
Reach activities include school programs and workshops, camps and major events for young people aged between eight to 18 years. The Foundation works with over 58,000 young Australians every year and has made a positive impact on the lives of over half a million young Australians over the past 20 years.
A published author, Jim’s work includes the autobiography Whatever It Takes, and the two children’s books Heroes and Finding Heroes, about the journey to self‐discovery. Jim has served on Government advisory boards including the 1997 Victorian Government Suicide Task Force.
His motivation has not wavered, despite battling with cancer since mid‐2009 – if anything his determination has increased, referring to the challenge of surviving as the "marathon" of his life.
Jim has twice been named Victorian of the Year, and in 2007 was awarded an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to youth.
At the Melbourne Campus graduation ceremony Jim thanked his family for their unwavering support. He also thanked the network of Catholic families who welcomed him to Australia when he first arrived as an 18 year old as a part of an experiment to recruit Irish footballers for the Melbourne Football Club.
Jim shared the celebration of his achievement with his god daughter, Sarah O’Connor, who graduated from a Bachelor of Teaching/ Bachelor of Arts in the same ceremony.