Spotlight: get to know CBR’s standout Alumni

Posted 1 Jan 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

As the place where universities, national institutions and thought leaders in politics, science, research, education and business come together to collaborate, in Canberra ideas have the opportunity to flourish and grow.

We are home to five world-class universities and a number of prestigious educational institutions.

Combined with the liveability of the region, it’s easy to see how Canberra attracts bright minds and leading thinkers.

Here is just a sample of Canberra’s most notable alumni.

Kevin Rudd (Australian National University – Bachelor of Asian Studies ’81)

Australian Prime Minister 2007 – 20010, 2013

Field: Political Leader

After completing his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies at the Australian National University, Kevin Rudd embarked on a diplomatic career.

He held embassy posts in Stockholm and Beijing with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before making the leap into politics.

He initially served as the Chief of Staff for Queensland Premier, Wayne Goss, and then as director general of the state cabinet office from 1992 to 1995.

Kevin was elected to the federal House of Representatives in 1998. He took over leadership of the Australian Labor Party in 2006, and led the Party to victory in the federal election that year.

Kevin served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister (2007-2010, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010- 2012).

Richard Roxburgh

Field: Australian Actor and Director

Australian National University, Bachelor of Economics ’84

These days Richard Roxburgh is best known for his hilarious character as criminal lawyer Cleaver Greene from the award-winning Australian TV series, Rake.

His illustrious entertainment career as has also seen him star in numerous stage productions such as Blue Murder, Hamlet and Toy Symphony, and several Hollywood blockbusters including Moulin Rouge, Mission Impossible 2, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and Van Helsing.

But what many people didn’t know is that before pursuing acting, Richard set up shop in Canberra graduating with a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University in 1984.

With numerous prestigious acting awards (more than we can count on our two hands), Richard has also dabbled in directing and producing. He has also started book writing, authoring Artie and the Grime Wave, a children’s adventure novel.

Morris Glietzman

Field: International best-selling author

University of Canberra – Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing ‘71

International best-selling children’s author Morris Gleitzman is a professional writing alumnus from the University of Canberra.

With over 35 successful children’s novels published in 20 countries, Mr Gleitzman recently released his latest novel Extra. All his books have won or been shortlisted for awards; including Two Weeks with the Queen, the Wicked! And Deadly! series co-written with Paul Jennings and a four-part series on children in the holocaust.

George Gregan (University of Canberra – Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) ‘94)

Field: Sporting Legend (Rugby)

Legendary Wallabies captain and foundation Brumbies player, George Gregan AM, graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) from the University of Canberra.

The Zambian-born rugby champion is the most capped Wallaby in Australian history. He was appointed to the Order of Australia and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009.

He also set up the George Gregan Foundation that funds playground construction in children’s hospitals and funds a fellowship in paediatric neurology specialising in epilepsy.

Anne Gallagher

Field: Human Rights Trailblazer

Australian National University – Masters of International Law ’92

As an international authority on human rights and gender issues, Anne is a genuine trailblazer, who emerged from Australian shores and set her sights on tackling humanitarian issues worldwide.

From 1998 to 2002 she served as Special Adviser to Mary Robison, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. During this time, she helped develop the international legal framework around trafficking in persons and pioneered a ‘human rights based approach’ to trafficking that has now become the accepted global standard.

Anne has since held a series of leadership roles in the world’s largest and most ambitious criminal justice initiative against human trafficking. The program has been widely acclaimed for its impact on laws, policies and practices within and outside the ASEAN region.

Anne’s work has been widely recognised. In addition to her ‘Hero’ award from the US Government she was awarded the inaugural Australian Freedom Award in 2011 and in 2012 was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). In 2013 she received the inaugural Australian National University Alumni of the Year award.

Betty Kitchener

Field: Mental Health Pioneer

University of Canberra – Graduate Diploma in Special Education ‘87, Graduate Diploma in Community Counselling ‘90, Bachelor of Nursing ‘94, Master of Nursing ’98

Betty Kitchener is a four-time UC graduate and co-founder of the Mental Health First Aid Program (MHFA). The program teaches members of the public and healthcare professionals how to provide initial help to a person developing mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Today, over 1300 instructors are delivering the MHFA program across Australia, and over 350,000 Australians have received the training. Betty has also spread the program to over 20 countries, reaching one million people worldwide.

The program has revolutionised the ways in which mental health problems are responded to and treated within the community.

Betty received the Order of Australia Medal in 2008 and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2011. In 2014 she was listed as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review.

Betty became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015.

Mary O’Kane

Field: Pioneer in Automatic Speech Recognition

Australian National University – PhD ’82

Professor Mary O’Kane was appointed the inaugural NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer in 2008 and was named as one of Australia’s top 100 most influential engineers in 2014.

Born in central Queensland, Professor O’Kane is an expert in automatic speech recognition.

O’Kane was one of the pioneers in the design, collection and establishment of a database of spoken Australian English. At the time there were practically no formal international collections of speech data. O’Kane was one a small number of researchers internationally who built special purpose programming languages that allowed experts to put their expertise into the system, work that continues to be used in linguistics departments today.

She has been a member of the Australian Research Council and has chaired major reviews of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Co-operative Research Centres Program.

Professor O’Kane was previously Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, and Chair of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy from 2010 to 2012.

Oliver Vidinovski (University of Canberra – Bachelor of Information Technology ’99)

Field: Digital Media Trailblazer

Since graduating from the University of Canberra with Bachelor of Information Technology in 1999, Oliver Vidinovski has established himself as a leader in digital media.

As the former Head of Digital and Operations at Fairfax Marketing Services, Oliver played a crucial role in the newspaper giant’s move into the online space across not only its newspapers, but also a suite of Australia’s most famous digital properties.

It was at Fairfax where Oliver would first work closely with his current employer, Google for the first time when implementing a number of Google platforms and products within Fairfax’s digital properties.

In only a short period of time Oliver and his team have made a significant impact. Since its inception in early 2014, the team has won the “Biggest Impact Award” for the fastest year-on-year growth within Google’s Channel Sales business, and Oliver hopes to roll out the program globally over the next two years.