ACU Pro-Chancellor Julien O'Connell AM and ACU Alumni of Year 2017 Daniel Billing.
Not-for profit leader Daniel Billing has been named ACU’s 2017 Alumni of the Year.
The award was one of four presented to outstanding graduates at a ceremony in Brisbane on Wednesday 4 October.
ACU introduced the Alumni Awards in 2015 as part of the University’s 25th anniversary celebrations – to recognise achievements among the 92,000-strong alumni community.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven presented the awards at a reception that included ACU alumni, staff, students, members of the clergy and representatives of industry partners.
Daniel graduated from ACU with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1999. His personal experiences and his role with the Department of Education and Training inspired him to establish the Indigenous Reading Project (IRP) in 2012.
IRP is an independent, non-profit organisation that brings about change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The organisation loans a tablet to children participating in the program. The device has access to more than 1,500 carefully curated e-books from the IRP digital library, and the organisation provides support on their reading journey. The children’s progress is monitored and if their reading ability has improved at the end of their involvement in the program, they can keep the tablet and maintain access to the cloud library.
In four short years, the project has shown a remarkable 86 per cent success rate. Even more remarkable is that on average, project participants increase their reading time by 110 per cent. Almost 1,000 students are now involved in the IRP.
Daniel also took home the Community Engagement Award for making a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service.
Two other alumni were also recognised for their outstanding contributions.
Bradley Moggridge received the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award which recognises an outstanding Indigenous Alumni who has made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others.
A proud Aboriginal man from the Kamilaroi Nation, Bradley is a scientist who is using the ancient and tested knowledge of his ancestors to find sustainable water solutions for Australia, the driest inhabited continent on Earth. He has built a career as an advocate for protecting and managing water in Australia, based on two very different educational traditions.
Bradley is currently undertaking a PhD and works part time as the Indigenous Liaison Officer with the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. He has worked for the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ as Team Leader of the Aboriginal Water Initiative and for the CSIRO as their only Indigenous Waters Research Specialist.
Since 2012 he has been Chairperson of the Solid Sista’s and Brotha’s Aboriginal Program, a not-for-profit that works with Aboriginal children and adolescents building the leaders of tomorrow.
Milly Tapper was awarded the Young Alumni of the Year for early accomplishments since graduation leading to high professional achievements or community engagement.
Despite being born with brachial plexus palsy, a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves, Milly developed a passion for table tennis at an early age and made her first able-bodied junior Australian team at 14 and was the nation’s top ranked junior athlete at 18.
Milly played her first Paralympic competition in 2009 and went on to win a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In 2016 Milly made history in Rio de Janeiro – becoming the first Australian athlete to compete at both the Paralympic and Olympic Games.
Regardless of her extensive sporting commitments Milly still finds the time to volunteer, mentoring youth at risk of disengaging with education and speaking in a range of forums inspiring both able and disabled people to never give up.
Professor Craven said each winner was making an impact and bringing about change in other people’s lives with passion, commitment and integrity.
“They demonstrate empathy and understanding. These are the virtues that we admire at ACU and wish to nurture,” Professor Craven said.