Mokaraka wins university award

AN Aboriginal healing consultant who works with Aboriginal women in the Western Australian prison system and the wider community has been named Southern Cross University's 2011 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Kathy Mokaraka, who graduated with a Master of Indigenous Studies in 2008, received her award from the Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC and Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee.

The winner of the 2011 Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year is Tanya Camplin, a tourism graduate who went on to become a local government councillor at the age of 23.

The awards, presented at a ceremony in Bangalow on Friday evening, highlight the significant achievements Southern Cross University graduates are making in a diverse range of fields, both in Australia and internationally.

Nine nominees were in the running for the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award, with three nominees for the Young Alumnus of the Year. Also presented on the night were School Alumnus of the Year awards.

Ms Mokaraka is working with the Ruah Community Services in Western Australia's Department of Health. Ms Mokaraka , who said she came to Southern Cross University because of the work of Professor Judy Atkinson (who has since retired), develops and facilitates healing therapies for Aboriginal women, both in prison and in the wider community.

Her first job was as a receptionist in an Aboriginal mental health service in Western Australia's Kimberley district where she noticed most patients were either medicated or flown to a Perth hospital 2000 kilometres away - often institutionalised for years. She found herself unexpectedly in the role of unofficial counsellor and realised that healing and recovery for Aboriginal people needed to relate to having their story heard and acknowledged.

She applied herself to studying Aboriginal mental health and welfare, while working in remote Aboriginal communities over many years, and writing courses for Aboriginal health workers before undertaking her Master of Indigenous Studies at SCU.

"Professor Atkinson validates the trauma of Aboriginal people. Thank you for this award I am very honoured," Ms Mokaraka  said.

The recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year, Tanya Camplin, graduated with a Bachelor of Business in Tourism in 2001. After finishing her degree, Ms Camplin  returned to her home town of Wangaratta in Victoria and was elected to the local council at the age of 23. She was a councillor for six years, acting as Mayor on several occasions. She has been highly active in her local community and now works for the Regional Development Company as a consultant and project manager.

"I am very honoured to be nominated and win this prestigious award. I really enjoyed my time at the uni - I lived on campus and made some wonderful friendships with people who are now spread all over the country and overseas," Ms Camplin  said.

"I got to choose a lot of subjects which allowed me to follow my strengths."

Among the guests at the event were the 2010 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Gordon Fraser-Quick, and the 2010 Young Alumnus of the Year, rugby league star Steve Price who both spoke about their careers and the difference a qualification from Southern Cross University had made in their lives.

"SCU has given me the courage to think outside the square. One of the proudest achievements in my life has been the Alumnus of the Year award. It's my sincere wish to have a long engagement with the community of Southern Cross University," Mr Fraser-Quick said.

The School Alumnus of the Year winners are:

School of Education - Erwin Bates graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) in 1997 and is the Principal Liaison Officer, Learning Management and Business Reform, NSW Department of Education.

School of Environment Science and Management - Rik Whitehead graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1990 and a Graduate Diploma of Law in 2003. He is the Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, NSW Department of Primary Industries.

School of Law and Justice - Susan Higginson graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, First Class Honours, in 2005 and is now Senior Solicitor and office manager for the Northern Rivers Environmental Defender's Office.

Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples - Kathy Mokaraka.

Southern Cross Business School - Ashok Lavasa graduated with a Master of Business Administration in 1997. He is the Additional Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Power, New Delhi.

School of Tourism and Hospitality Management - Martin Winter graduated with a Master of International Tourism Management in 1998 and is the Chief Executive Officer of Gold Coast Tourism.

School of Arts and Social Sciences - Phillip Norman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2008. He is currently in the Marshall Islands undertaking a one-year government teaching contract, working on a remote outer atoll in a local school.

Other nominees for the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year were:

Darmin (John) Cameron - graduated with a Master of Indigenous Studies in 2005 and is Youth Connections Coordinator for the NSW North Coast.

Robert Barnes - graduated with a Master of Business Administration in 2006 and is General Manager, Operations of Fitness Australia.

Christina May - graduated with a Bachelor of Human Services in 2000. She is the licensee and Director of Cabarita Child Care Services.

Young Alumnus of the Year nominees were:

Phillip Norman - also the winner of a School Alumnus of the Year award

Sarah Beardmore - graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2011. Sarah is professional surfer, currently ranked 50th in the world and competing in the World Qualifying Series.



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