25 October 2019

ASIO’s Director-General of Security, Mike Burgess and Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, Tirana Hassan, are among the trailblazing University of South Australia alumni set to be honoured at the annual UniSA Alumni Awards gala dinner at Pridham Hall on Saturday October 26.

Awards will also be presented to renowned Aboriginal artist and educator, Darren Siwes and Hong Kong Pokka Café entrepreneur, Dr Pauline Wong, in recognition of their inspiring careers and great contributions to society.

The prestigious UniSA Awards is an annual milestone and showcases the most distinguished members of the 215,000-strong global alumni community.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Prof David Lloyd says the gala dinner is one of the most inspiring annual events, because its where the University pays tribute to the pioneers, innovators, and changemakers who have been influenced by their time at UniSA.

“This year is no exception,” he says.

“Every career story at these awards is different, but there are common themes…that a UniSA education empowers people and gives them self-confidence, creativity and the invaluable capacity to keep learning and innovating.

“All of our worthy winners this year define what it is to have an unstoppable career – the desire to make a difference, the skills and knowledge to bring an ambition to life, the courage to keep going when things aren’t perfect, and the capacity to build on each achievement.

“They really are people to be proud of.”

More about the Winners

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Social Work graduate, Tirana Hassan, has always known she wanted to make a contribution to the world and her drive to protect people’s human rights has taken her to some of the most extraordinary and remote places in the world and shown her the dark side of humanity.

As the Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International, Tirana leads a team deployed to protect human rights in conflict and crises zones. Two years ago, when news of the crisis in Myanmar broke, Tirana and her Crisis Response Team at Amnesty International were key in shining light on the plight of the Rohingya refugees and the atrocities they suffered at the hands of their Government.

“There was something very dark happening out of sight across the border in Myanmar that was driving people to flee,” Hassan says. “So, we mobilised as Amnesty International and the Crisis Response team and deployed immediately to the border area.”

“While we were there witnessing tens of thousands of people stream across every day – holding children above their heads as they walked across the River Naf with whatever belongings they could grab before fleeing – the military went in and had burned down their homes.

“It was at that point that we needed to triangulate what was happening, and more importantly, who was responsible.”

MikeHeadshot.jpgOn the other side of the world, in our National Capital, Electronic Engineering graduate, Mike Burgess has spent most of his professional life not telling people much about his day job.

His work in communications at the forefront of Australia’s security and intelligence mission, is key in protecting Australian shores from serious threats. And after 18 rewarding years with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) – thwarting would-be terrorists and scrambling Deash communications during battle – Burgess was officially appointed the Director-General of Security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in September.

PaulineWong.pngMeanwhile in Hong Kong, Dr Pauline Wong has built a thriving café empire on the foundation of her signature family-style culture, quality cuisine and outstanding service after completing her MBA at UniSA.

As the founder & CEO of the Million Rank Group she is at the helm of the Pokka Cafe chain of over 20 eateries offering Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisines under different brands and has been awarded the ‘Caring Company’ title by the Hong Kong Social Council of Social Service for 13 consecutive years.

Darren.jpgDarren Siwes’ says his time at UniSA was about more than learning. It was an awakening of self and a discovery of potential, both personally and in career terms. At UniSA he found a passion for photography, and what followed his Visual Arts degree and subsequent Graduate Diploma in Education, was a string of highly acclaimed and celebrated exhibitions of his work, including representation by Greenaway Art Gallery.

Each series of Darren’s work is a powerful masterclass in the exploration of ‘space, place and identity”. His work explores themes of racial tension, and the meaning of representations of Aboriginal in our social structure and social order.  His bold work is painstakingly composed and has become highly acclaimed both for its craft and its cultural importance.

More information is available about the awards online

 Media contact:Michèle Nardelli phone: +61 418 823 673 or +61 8 8302 0966 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au




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