Sri Lankan Sisters win ACU’s inaugural Alumni of the Year Award

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Alumni Awards winners announced

Australian Catholic University (ACU) is proud to celebrate the achievements of our alumni and this year we launched our inaugural Alumni Awards.

Four Sisters who are members of the Holy Cross Convent in Jaffna, Sri Lanka have won Australian Catholic University’s (ACU’s) inaugural Alumni of the Year Award, which was announced in a ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday 13 October 2015.

ACU introduced the Alumni Awards as part of 25th anniversary celebrations to honour the achievements of the 76,000 members of the University’s alumni community.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven presented the awards. ACU staff, students, alumni, members of the clergy and representatives of industry partners were among those who attended the ceremony.

The Sisters were selected for their activities in camps for internal displaced people providing medical treatment and pastoral care to civilians wounded or traumatised in the Sri Lankan civil war, and also for their work in clinical teaching and securing sponsors for students who cannot afford an education.

The overall Alumni of the Year award was chosen from the winner of four categories of awards. The winners were:

International Contribution Award for international alumni demonstrating distinction in professional practice or an international community.

  • Rev Sr Geraldine Michael
  • Rev Sr Pricilla John Baptist
  • Rev Sr Anushala Alexander
  • Rev Sr Virgini Edwardrajah

The Sisters are all senior nurses at Holy Cross Hospital, senior lecturers in the Holy Cross School of Health Sciences and International Institute of Health Sciences based in Jaffna Sri Lanka.

Community Engagement Award for making a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service.

  • Winner: Dr Sarah Miller, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist renowned in the international humanitarian sector for trauma counselling.
  • Highly commended: Dan Colquhoun, known as Rocking Dan Teacher man, a teacher at St Declan’s Primary School in Sydney.

Community Leadership Award for inspiring others to strive for excellence, deliver outstanding service and deliver innovation in their field.

  • Winner: Penny Daly, Founder and President of the Welcome Group that supports newly arrived refugees in Melbourne.
  • Highly Commended: Brad Moggridge, the first Indigenous student to finish degrees in Environmental Science (ACU) and Masters of Science Hydrogeology and Groundwater Management (UTS), and a leading professional in Water Management in Australia.

Young Alumni of the Year for early accomplishments since graduation leading to high professional achievements or community engagement.

  • Winner: Jessica Hansson, Senior Exercise Physiologist, Team Leader Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Victoria.
  • Highly Commended: Bwe Thay, Project Officer Migrant Aspiration and Mentoring Program Swinburne University.

Professor Craven said the introduction of the awards during the University’s 25th anniversary celebrations was a fitting tribute to the accomplishments of the 76,000 graduates of ACU and its predecessor institutions.

“Each of winner has taken the University’s Mission and applied it to their work and to their lives. They demonstrate a deep commitment to producing real change in communities,” Professor Craven said.

“We are inspired by their leadership and honour them as role models within the ACU community and across the world.

“We are proud to establish a wonderful new tradition to recognise these worthy efforts as we celebrate the past 25 years and look forward to the future.”

For more information about the winners visit