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2014 Curtin University Equity & Diversity Leadership Award Winners

Two final year Curtin University students have recently been awarded Curtin’s inaugural Equity & Diversity Leadership Award.

Presented by Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Jill Downie, the Equity & Diversity Leadership Award aims to highlight the voluntary work that Curtin University undergraduate students are doing to improve the lives of others.

Susan Furphy, an Occupational Therapy student, won for her volunteer work as a massage therapist for organisations providing free health services to people experiencing financial hardship, homelessness and chronic illness.

“To me equity and diversity is about ensuring that people are not unfairly disadvantaged due to circumstances they can’t control and that people have access to services and experiences that contribute a reasonable quality of life.

Meeting people who felt deprived of touch highlighted the need for change in the way we think. Everyone wants to be thought of as a person, and not characterised by their age, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Diversity is something to valued, respected and nourished.

I’ve become passionate about equality in health and concerned about the power that policies and funding for health, education and financial support systems have to support or hinder a person’s engagement in meaningful occupations.

I’m incredibly grateful to be a recipient of this award. Being in a position to volunteer is a privilege and honour in itself. My experience has taught me that you never know what situation you will find yourself in and I hope awards like these inspire other young people to give back and volunteer if and when they are in a position to do so.”

Fellow recipient, Harry Ashton, a Pharmacy student, won for his voluntary work as a counsellor working with youth who have experienced family violence. Harry is also an active advocate for the support services in the not-for-profit sexuality and gender diversity community.

“For me achieving equity and diversity in our community is about changing discriminatory societal attitudes. The camps I’ve volunteered in inspire me because they bring together such diverse groups of kids, and instil an appreciation of and respect for that which is different – whether it be different people, behaviours, ideas, daily tasks, even foods! It’s these values of respect and acceptance that are essential for a free and diverse community and to make tomorrow better. The camps transcend a week of freedom, fun and mess – they change lives, and I’m proud to be working with them.

It has been such an honour to receive the Equity and Diversity Leadership Award, and I hope it will inspire people to become more involved in volunteering that provides life opportunities for people!”

Susan and Harry each received a Certificate of Achievement and cash prize of $1,500 courtesy of Curtin’s Ethics, Equity & Social Justice team in recognition of their excellent work in furthering equity and diversity in the community.

Congratulations to them both!

Posted 8 July 2014 Posted in General