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Staff, alumni and associates among 2016 NSW Australian of the Year finalists

26 October 2015

Members of the University community in diverse fields including arts, politics, health sciences and education and social work have made the shortlist for NSW Australian of the Year nominations.

SCA alumnus Ben Quilty has been named a state finalist for the 2016 Australian of the Year Award. Image: Andre de Borde (courtesy Jan Murphy Gallery).

Patricia Garcia, from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), has been named a state finalist for the 2016 Australian of the Year Award.

In 2001 Patricia designed the Human Rights course for the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at CPACS, in which she still lectures part-time. She is also currently a Visiting Scholar with CPACS, working on peace building and humanitarian practice issues.

“I’m truly honoured to be amongst an amazing group of finalists,” Ms Garcia said.

World-renowned artist and Sydney College of the Arts alumnus Ben Quilty is also in the running for the distinguished title.

Professor Colin Rhodes, Dean of Sydney College of the Arts, extended his congratulations. “Ben is one of the most genuine people I know. For years he has used art as a vehicle to help young Australian men who have lost their way to see positive and creative futures for themselves, all without fuss or fanfare. His work only received public attention when it became a necessary part of the attempt to save the lives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. Ben, of course, is one of Australia’s most prominent artists, and deservedly so. We are very proud to be able to count him among our graduates.”

Additionally, Faculty of Health Sciences alumnus Jordan O’Reilly is a state finalist in the Young Australian of the Year category.

O’Reilly co-founded the charity Fighting Chance Australia with his sister, Laura (also nominated for the award), while studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy).

O’Reilly was also honoured at the 2015 Alumni Awards earlier this month, where he received the Young Alumni Award for Achievement.

“Studying at the University of Sydney really fuelled the growth behind Fighting Chance,” Jordan O’Reilly said in a recent interview published in the Sydney Alumni Magazine.

Dr Catherine Keenan, co-founder of not-for-profit organisation Sydney Story Factory and Honorary Associate in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, was also nominated for the NSW Local Hero award.

The NSW Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, and Local Hero awards will be announced on Monday 16 November at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. The NSW winners will then join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards in Canberra on 25 January 2016.

Jennifer Peterson-Ward

Assistant Media and PR Adviser (Division of Humanities and Social Sciences)

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