News & Events

World Access to Higher Education Day — Champions for Change

Champions for Change is an annual initiative, developed by the NCSEHE and Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) as a component of World Access to Higher Education Day Australasia.

Nearly 150 Champions were announced at the 2021 World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) event, recognising and celebrating their outstanding work in supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, listed below with citations provided by students and colleagues:

Access Programs team — Dr Angela Jones, Dr Peter Geerlings, Dr Joanne Lisciandro, Anita Olds, Deb Monteith, Dr Mark Langdon, Dr Lisa Critchley & Dr Rebekah Sturniolo-Baker
Murdoch University
The team goes above and beyond to support and prepare over 1,000 students each year for university through our school-based and post-secondary Enabling/Access Programs in both the Perth and Peel regions. These programs have significantly boosted representation of equity students at Murdoch University.

Sakinah Alhadad
Griffith University
Sakinah works tirelessly to raise awareness with students and staff on inclusion. Her forté is in learning strategies for inclusion and educating through workshops etc. She is not afraid of the difficult conversations and respectfully conveys messages of inclusion and mental wellbeing awareness.

Michelle Anderson
University of South Australia
Michelle is an advocate extraordinaire! Driving force behind UniSA’s ALLY network, gender neutral washrooms and encouraging pronoun use. Passionate supporter of reconciliation, inclusivity and respect towards Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ANU Engagement and Success — Sarah Walker, Ash Dowling, Jules Lumbers, Jason Yip, Asha Tsimeris, Darren Hastie, Aidan Delaney, Gatra Priyandita, Claire Zhu, Caitlin MacDonald, Sam Cheah, Kim-Ling Richardson, Kezia Kartika, Iram Ali, Madhur Chhabra & Tamara McGregor
Australian National University
This team delivers holistic and inclusive opportunities for all students (particularly equity students) through outreach, mentoring, storytelling, training, student partnerships, wellbeing events, orientation and transition support, physical and virtual offerings and staff education.

Assistive Technology Specialists — Sally Leggo & Natalie McLaughlin
Western Sydney University
Sally and Natalie work tirelessly to destigmatise and mainstream Assistive Technology at Western Sydney University – improving the learning/work experience for many. In addition to helping those with a formal disability adjustment, they have made tailored support available to all students and staff.

Dr Sally Baker
University of New South Wales
Dr Sally Baker published an online equity database, a large and inclusive collection of commentary annotations on topics related to access and participation in higher education. Giving users the ability to access and search through hundreds of thematically-organised annotated academic sources.

Marj Blowers
Marj is a true Champion for Change and the Pride sphere in SEQ Higher Ed is richer for their input. Marj is always the first to respond to collaboration requests, will always volunteer their time and is consistently constructive and positive. A fabulous colleague and dedicated equity practitioner!

Darren Britten
University of Tasmania
In his new role as National Assistive Technology Officer, Darren has gone above and beyond to ensure tertiary education staff and students have access to expert advice about all things assistive technology. He offers a supportive community of practice, regular virtual drop-in sessions and newsletters.

Sarah Bruen
University of Canberra
Sarah provides vital support to keep the UC Ally Network alive, before and while holding the position as the secretary. Sarah has not only advocated for an LGBTIQA+-friendly community at UC but also raises awareness of various diversity matters for students and staff. Sarah is a true champion for change.

Jessica Buhne
University of Sydney – Centre for Disability Studies
Jess works tirelessly to advocate for tertiary education to be accessible to, and inclusive of, all students, including those with disability. She collaborates with educators, equity professionals, and key community stakeholders to improve systems and enhance knowledge, prioritising lived experience.

Lisa Chiang
Griffith University
Lisa has been a firm advocate for mental health at Griffith University for a number of years now. Her advocacy goes beyond the confines of her job, with clear impact on students and educators. Her Meaningful Minute videos have transformed my classes, and mental health video series supporting students.

Baden Cutts
Federation University
Baden has worked tirelessly to improve the access and success of students with disabilities at both Fed Tafe and Fed Uni. His dedication and enthusiasm for inclusion and his dynamic innovative approach to services with students have made him a champion for change within this institution.

Equitable Learning Services team — Smoxi Chen, Jacinta Jones O’Meara, Joseph Beswick, Maddy Dack, Tracy Galloway, Elnaz Rasouli, Hannah Freedman-Smith, Reema Muneer, Tania Perez & Jessica Craig-Piper
RMIT University
The team pivoted so well to supporting students remotely during Melbourne lockdowns. Completed proactive mental health check-ins with over 2,500 registered students!

Curtin Construction Management Student Support — Natalie Beard, Tamara Palme, Steven Feast, Hursh Ramcharitur & Emily Zhou
Curtin University
Facilitating the delivery of courses (e.g., Construction Management) to incarcerated students at prisons around Australia. Incarcerated student enrolments have grown as a direct result of their exceptional support, professionalism and commitment to social justice and equity in education.

Curtin FBL Learning and Teaching — Prof. Vanessa Chang, Prof. Sonia Dickinson, Dr Megan Le Clus, Dr J-Han Ho & Amy Robinson
Curtin University
Ensuring equity in higher education sector in Western Australia. Hosting 2021 National Indigenous Business Summer School, Tailored support for incarcerated students, developed student equity groups and working groups for culture and inclusion, encouraged Universal Design for Learning for inclusivity.

Kate Flynn
Kate is responsible for the strategic direction of QUT’s Widening Participation program and for the staff team. She places the students (and staff) at the centre of her decisions, has capitalised on the changing higher education landscape and never misses an opportunity to be a champion for change.

Elicia Ford
University of Sydney – Centre for Disability Studies
Elicia is a tireless advocate for students with disability. She has worked on impactful strategic projects including UDL training, COVID-19 Responses, the DSE Review, the NDIS workforce enquiry, and has made significant contributions to the goals of ATEND, EPHEA and ADCET and the NDCO Program.

Kim Giannoni
University of South Australia
Kim is the inspiring leader of the Careers Awareness Program, which explores career aspiration pathways, including tertiary courses, whilst building real world capacity for university students to successfully engage with their future workplaces.

Heather Harmer
Griffith University
As a Mentoring and Orientation Coordinator, Heather has been key in the introduction and development of the university wide Back on Academic Track (BOAT) Program, supporting all students but focus is on those failing to maintain good academic results.

Professionally, Heather has worked endlessly to co-create and run one of our student mentor programs. Personally, I have never met someone so dedicated to supporting and empowering students, no matter their circumstances. Heather truly deserves recognition for the difference she makes!

As a student mentor, I work with Heather on various student support campaigns at the university. Heather is a compassionate, supportive leader who drives for change and takes on initiatives that will help the wellbeing of others.

Katy Head
University of New South Wales
Katy Head has worked tirelessly to drive a program and pathway for equity cohorts throughout the pandemic and has had excellent results in engaging students (increasing engagement by 60%), improving ATARs, and the academic performance of students and their preparedness for university.

Rae Jobst
Griffith University
Rae has been a firm advocate for inclusion and accessibility, in particular, in the rapid shift to online learning. She’s continued in her stead to enhance staff’s awareness about accessibility in learning design by holding webinars, workshops, and being a constant source of support in L&T community.

Theresa Lauf
Dr Lauf within a very short span of time as an Equity Director (since March 2021) was able to deliver new strategic initiatives and a roadmap bringing efficiencies to the existing Equity services, action plan for the gender and cultural diversity of staff, and direct feedback mechanisms from students.

Jasmine Linton
Jasmine is a genuine Champion for Change. She works tirelessly for social justice and to improve representation and inclusion for staff and students with diverse genders, sexualities and sex characteristics at QUT through leadership of QUT’s LGBTIQA+ Working Party (on top of her Welfare day job).

Melissa Lowe
Swinburne University of Technology
Melissa’s soul is student equity. Everything she does, both professionally and personally, works towards breaking down barriers students face in accessing higher education and ensuring that each and every student has an equal opportunity to succeed at university.

Jules Lumbers
Australian National University
Jules is always at the forefront engaging with equity students and working to improve their experience at ANU. Jules is passionate about fostering connections, building communities and creating opportunities for students to enjoy their university experience and flourish.

Kym Mapleston
Kym has worked for QUT as an equity practitioner and brings a wealth of knowledge to staff equity as program manager for QUT’s signature Women in Leadership program which targets gender equity and addressing barriers to academic and professional women in meaningful and innovative ways.

Ann Marie Mullaney
Edith Cowan University
Consistently a voice and strong advocate for students within policy and planning, Ann Marie focuses on equity and inclusion in everything she does. Her work has been of benefit to ECU and an immeasurable number of students.

Katherine Munyard

Katherine has worked at QUT for over 11 years within the Equity Section, championing important diversity and inclusion programs including awareness activities such as Reconciliation, LGBTIQA+ inclusion, gender equity, and widening participation. Working with the LGBTIQA+ Working Party, Katherine’s innovative and collaborative approach has fostered corporate goodwill at the highest levels, engaging the staff and student community. Katherine oversees LGBTIQA+ awareness training including QUT’s Ally network and has developed projects such as inclusive language guides, orientation programs for commencing students, and research forums and practical supports such as all-gender bathroom facilities and safe spaces.

In her role on the EPHEA Executive Committee, Katherine has developed a communication strategy, redesigned EPHEA’s digital presence and contributes to activities such as WAHED. Katherine’s sense of social justice, collaborative practice, empathy and warmth makes her an ideal Champion for Change.

Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt
Southern Cross University
Johanna is dedicated to making higher education more accessible and inclusive. Through curriculum design and teaching, she is passionate about helping students realise that learning can be enjoyable and that they can succeed. As a past student said, “she showed me what I was truly capable of”.

Project team, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences — Dr Betty Exintaris, Dr Nilushi Karunaratne & Dr Suzanne Caliph
Monash University
In 2020, in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the university experience of international students, Drs Karunaratne, Exintaris and Caliph created an inclusive faculty community for international students through the development of an academic-led, student engagement program.

QUT Equity Scholarships team — Darren McAuliffe & Helene Micale
During a challenging 18 months, the Equity Scholarship team have continued to provide high standards of service and advocate for students experiencing financial hardship. Their dedication ensured that funding continues to reach those who are truly in need.

QUT Maori and Pasifika Outreach team — Cathleen Hafu-Fetokai & Afoa Patiole
Cathleen and Afoa lead with a strong cultural framework and strengths-based approach to engage Maori and Pasifika cohorts across South East Queensland. Their in-school engagement program The Fale champions peer-to-peer learning to help young people map their post-school options.

Lara Rafferty
RMIT University
Lara has worked for many years to address structural deficits and gaps in inclusion and equal opportunity for people underrepresented across society. She has been indefatigable in balancing competing interests in these endeavours as an Equity Professional, secretary of EPHEA and private citizen.

Margaret Ridley
Margaret has worked at QUT for 30 years as a law lecturer, equity practitioner and diversity and inclusion trainer. She was also USC Student Ombudsman in 2020 and is a social justice warrior with expertise in complaints management, special projects and cultural competence training.

Veronica Sanmarco
Veronica is a champion for staff and students from equity backgrounds and instigates institutional change, e.g., through USC’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan. She significantly expanded USC’s widening participation programs and is Chair of the Queensland Widening Participation Consortium.

Helen Scobie
The University of Newcastle
Helen works tirelessly to support enabling students (a cohort primarily made up of equity students) in her role as a counsellor. But through all of that she still finds time to encourage other staff with a constantly positive attitude. Her skills and attitude could not be over-acknowledged.

Sue Sharp
Edith Cowan University
Sue has provided skilled and exceptional leadership for students and staff in enabling programs at Edith Cowan University for over 30 years. Her wealth of knowledge and compassion has benefited thousands of students as they navigate their individual paths to higher education.

Sarah Smith
University of Wollongong
Sarah has been working in the Outreach program space for over a decade, delivering the innovative Leaning Labs program in for primary and high school students. Recently her role has expanded to other Outreach programs including the award winning Koori Aspirations Program and Future Finders Program.

Dr Glenda Stanley
Griffith University
Dr Glenda Stabley has worked to develop, meaningfully evaluate and redeploy access and aspiration-supporting programs to the Pacific Islander community of South East Queensland and beyond, developing practical programs as well as a digital suite of programs to continue over covid-19. Outstanding researcher too!

Nicholas Steepe
Charles Sturt University
Nicholas is a passionate member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee at CSU and has significant achievements in gender equity, mental health, First Nations and in particular the LGBTIQA+ space. Nic developed and delivers Unconscious Bias training and is a strong supporter of ALLY network.

Student Equity and Inclusion team — Victoria Drury, Cathy Burton, Jimzeena Le Cerf, Carlee Powell, Mel Mills, Shelley Odewahn & Terry Kosack
Southern Cross University
This team has worked tirelessly, demonstrating determination, flexibility and a positive attitude in ambiguous times with limited resources. Their creative thinking and their tenacious approach have developed programs that were able to be adopted, applied and showcased in the current climate.

Student Equity Team, Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion
University of Technology Sydney
Verity Firth and the Student Equity Team at UTS have stayed true to the ethos and principles of student equity during this period of unprecedented disruption in 2021. The team has continued to support students in SouthWest Sydney during NSW lockdown to ensure Year 12 students are not further disenfranchised.

Student Partnerships and Transitions Team — Wendy, Andrea, Ruby, Alison, Katie, Melissa, Rosalie, Justin & Laura
University of Wollongong
By providing peer academic support and transition programs for students from all walks of life—both domestic and international—this team are committed to programs that enable students to thrive at university and reach their higher education goals.

James Terry
University of Wollongong
James is tireless in his role as Team Leader within the Outreach and Widening Participation team at UOW. He strives to ensure that our schools and our school students from low SES areas access enriching experiences and information to guide them on their educational journey.

University of Queensland Disability Inclusion Group — Tim Dunne (champion), Paul Harpur (Chair), Kym Powell, Tim Sweeney, Celina Campas, Rob Pensalfini, Alicia Steele, Clare Tarlington, Angela Hannan, Leonie Meyn, Kathy Ellem, Rene Ferm, Melinda Browning, Peter Rutherford, Jolene Cooper, Cecilia Flux, Brett Crunkhorn, Anthony Zgrajewski, Merrill Turpin, Paul Sheeran, Krista Markham & Brooke Szucs
University of Queensland
Formed in 2017, UQ’s Disability Inclusion Group (DIG) provides outstanding leadership and advocacy for students/staff with disability. It is led by persons with disabilities, reports to the Deputy Provost and the chair of the UQ DIG sis on the UQ Senate Sub-Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

UOW Widening Participation Team — James Terry, Amy Cord, Erin Acton, Karen Laverty & Leanne Windsor
University of Wollongong
This team tirelessly work to provide pathway and access programs for Year 11 and 12 students across the NSW South Coast, Illawarra, Liverpool and Southern Highlands areas. They are a team of champions who do amazing work.

USC Student Wellbeing — Sharon Andersen, Carla Hopper, Anna Jones, Eilish Hobbs, Karryn Bratby, Caryn Andersen, Kathy Cool, Meredith Young, Sharon Woodall, Lyndal Hennell, Michelle Kendall, Sheena Schuy, Lua Bruckhoff, Danielle Bell, Christy Manning, Kirsty Bigaila, Tyrone Huckstepp & David Duncan
This team champions the wellbeing needs of USC’s diverse students as foundational elements for academic success. The team take a whole of person approach in their strategic leadership, their partnership with staff and students, and responsive support to create an inclusive learning community.

Jo Vercoe
University of Wollongong
Jo has worked across the past 18 months to provide leadership to the Student Accessibility and Inclusion Team at UOW as the team moves to a Strength Based Model. Jo’s considerable experience and empathy as a practitioner has enabled many students to navigate and complete their studies at UOW.

View the 2020 Champions for Change

Posted 19 November 2021 Posted in General