Our alumni are empowered with the knowledge, professional experience and ethical practice needed to excel. They are found in classrooms, hospitals and a range of other workplaces, and make a real difference in the world.

We’re proud to celebrate the achievements of our alumni. So in 2015 we launched our inaugural Alumni Awards, highlighting the contribution our alumni make to the community.

Alumni Awards 2020 winners

Professor Mark Rose Dip.T B.A. M.Ed Admin PhD
Diploma of Teaching, 1971

Raised in Ballarat and with traditional connections to the Gunditjmara nation of south-western Victoria, Professor Markham Rose is a distinguished academic and researcher who has taught in a broad range of educational settings. Having completed his teacher training at the State College of Victoria, a forerunner college of ACU in Melbourne, Mark spent a decade as a principal in both primary and secondary schools.

He went on to pursue postgraduate study and holds four academic qualifications, including a Doctorate of Philosophy centred on issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander management education. Professor Rose taught in postgraduate programs at RMIT University’s Faculty of Business in Australia, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He has also contributed his professional and community expertise in various ministerial advisory committees at state and national levels, including as co-chair of the Victorian Implementation Review of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He chaired the Batchelor Institute of Tertiary Education, was on the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council at Charles Darwin University, and is a member of ACARA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. Professor Rose has progressed the proposition of Indigenous knowledge as a knowledge system while serving in leadership roles at four universities and is currently the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Indigenous Strategy and Innovation at Deakin University. He has displayed outstanding commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, serving on numerous community boards and committees, with the ultimate goal of empowering Indigenous communities by respecting traditional rights and values, strengthening cultural connections, and advancing the teaching of Indigenous knowledge in the national curriculum.

Babra Mutanda
Bachelor of Nursing, 2017

When Babra Mutanda came to Australia in 2008 as a refugee from Zimbabwe, she’d had so few opportunities to learn that she had never even used a computer. Now she has two university degrees, is a compassionate aged care nurse and the founder of an organisation dedicated to helping others.

With four children and a husband by her side, Babra admits it took time for everyone to settle into their new home, but she saw Australia as her chance to begin life again. She soon turned her focus towards her own education.

Beginning her studies at TAFE before moving to a Bachelor of Nursing at ACU’s North Sydney Campus, Babra worked nights in aged care, attending campus in the morning and resting in the afternoon. The punishing schedule grew when she began to study a Bachelor of Social Work at the same time. But Babra was determined to follow through on her childhood dream of becoming a nurse. After she completed her nursing studies, Babra continued her work in aged care. She is also the founder of the Caring Hearts Foundation, which she started after visiting a friend in Sierra Leone. Seeing the devastating effects of the country’s rebel war, she began collecting clothing, shoes, food and sanitary hygiene products, and with additional government support, she’s been able to send her donations to Sierra Leone’s vulnerable young people.

Abiola Ajetomobi
Graduate Certificate in Management of Not-for-Profit Organisations, 2016

Abiola Ajetomobi was forced to leave her home in Africa for a new life in Melbourne in 2008, arriving with limited English and a high school certificate. Now, this former refugee has completed multiple university courses and is a leader in her community, working to help others seeking asylum find their rightful place in Australia. Abiola completed her first university degree in business while working in aged care, before she became the manager of a crisis relief centre. To develop her understanding of not-for-profits and enhance her leadership skills, she completed a Graduate Certificate in Not-For-Profit Organisations at ACU’s Melbourne Campus.

She is now the director of the Innovation Hub at the Australian Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, where she works to empower people seeking asylum in the hope of instigating long-term social change. Abiola is an active volunteer and lends her time to various organisations, including the Joyway Widows Foundation, which supports women in Nigeria with financial resources and empowerment opportunities, as well as United African Farms, which uses food to engage the African community and find common ground through farming, food sovereignty and healthy eating.


Youna Kim
Master of Social Work, 2014

After eight years in the corporate sector, Youna Kim made the change to social work to “have a purposeful and passionate profession I cared about.” And as the General Manager in Innovation and Development at Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS), that is certainly true.

Her role is to implement a range of innovative and evidence-based initiatives that will enhance the safety and wellbeing of victim survivors. Through Youna’s leadership, EDVOS’ gender equality and family violence training has reached more than 4,500 people in Victoria. She is passionate about creating a community free from family violence, where everyone feels safe. She is committed to achieving social justice, equality and equity by addressing structural disadvantage, intersectional marginalisation and discrimination.

Youna has led projects recommended by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence to provide an inclusive and accessible service for people from all backgrounds and developed a tool to collect outcomes feedback on the EDVOS service. She has also initiated a national gender equality and family violence training for hair salon professionals, HaiR-3Rs. Prior to her work at EDVOS, she worked in disability, multicultural, children and family counselling services and successfully collaborated with local, state-wide and national organisations.

Dr Xavier Symons
Doctor of Philosophy, 2020

Dr Xavier Symons is a graduate of ACU’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, where he completed his PhD on ethical issues surrounding the allocation of scarce healthcare resources. He was recently awarded a coveted 2020 Fulbright Future Postdoctoral Scholarship, which will take him to Georgetown University’s prestigious Kennedy Institute for Ethics (KIE) in the first half of 2021. While in residence at the KIE, Xavier will complete a research project on the ethics of dementia, with a focus on issues identified in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Xavier’s research interests range from ethical issues at the beginning and end of life, to conscientious objection in medicine and the role of religion in medical practice. His work has had notable international exposure. He was a visiting scholar at the Pellegrino Centre for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, and in 2018, won the Pellegrino Young Scholars’ Essay Prize. He has also been a visiting student at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford and was conferred a research fellowship at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in the UK. Dr Symons is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at ACU’s Plunkett Centre for Ethics, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Ethics and Society. He has taught bioethics for several years and has worked with the Catholic healthcare sector on projects related to ethics education. Xavier is a regular contributor to the online newsletter BioEdge, as well as various medical journals and a range of mainstream news outlets including the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Conversation.

Anne-Marie Reddan
Bachelor of International Development Studies, 2016

After just one visit to Uganda as a teenager to volunteer with her family, Anne-Marie Reddan’s life changed forever. Anne-Marie’s eyes were opened by the experience and she became determined from that moment forward to dedicate her future to helping vulnerable Ugandan young people.

Anne-Marie began her studies in international development at ACU’s Melbourne Campus, but continued to travel back and forth at every opportunity. She now lives there full-time to run Yimba, a not-for-profit organisation she started with her now husband. Together, they are dedicated to providing Ugandan young people with access to employment and educational development opportunities to equip them with sustainable income-generating skills.

Yimba’s first project was a goat program that helped widows and single mothers earn an income, and its surprising success led Anne-Marie to quickly expand Yimba’s offerings. Now, Yimba runs a year-long course where the local people learn how to make clothing and accessories; receive training in entrepreneurship, literacy, numeracy and English lessons; and upon graduating are provided with the start-up capital to begin their own businesses. While Yimba continues to grow, with a well-established music program also part of their offerings, its community-building ethos has never changed. Anne-Marie dreams of opening a large vocational training centre to help people develop skills in a wider range of industries, such as plumbing, hairdressing and catering.

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