The founder of the Fibromyalgia Network in Western Australia, an international humanitarian, and two influential Aboriginal Elders were today announced as the 2015 John Curtin Medallists.
The John Curtin Medal has been awarded annually since 1998 by Curtin University to members of the community who have exhibited former Prime Minister John Curtin’s attributes of vision, leadership and community service.
Curtin University Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor John Cordery said the John Curtin Medal honoured the enormous contribution the recipients had made to their respective communities.
“Our John Curtin Medallists 2015 have once again demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment within their individual fields and have all made a significant difference to the lives of others,” Professor Cordery said.
International humanitarian Sian White began helping people in need while still at school, and during her time studying at Curtin University, amongst many other community activities, she initiated three charity projects in India. These included the rebuilding of a girls’ school, the building of hostels for blind and deaf children, and building and equipping a unique Vocational Training Centre to empower people with disabilities by providing them with meaningful employment opportunities.
In 2009, as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, Sian worked on the National Tuberculosis Prevention Program in Papua New Guinea. She spent four years undertaking this work, eventually becoming the National TB Program Manager for World Vision.
Sian has also undertaken extensive fundraising for many humanitarian causes and charities, raising over $260,000.
In a joint award, Aboriginal Elders Mr Ezzard Flowers and the late Mr Angus Wallam, were honoured for the important role they played in the repatriation of the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork to Australia in 2013.
With both men being from the Stolen Generation, Mr Flowers and Mr Wallam were central figures in consultations with the Noongar people connected to the Carrolup Native Settlement, and their active, open-minded and open-hearted approach resulted in the Collection returning home under safe custodianship. It has also ensured the preservation of the artwork for future generations.
Also recognised was physiotherapist Dr Kaye Brand, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia nearly 20 years ago and found that there was inadequate research, education and support for people living with this condition in Australia.
With a passion for health, education and community awareness, Dr Brand established the non-for-profit Fibromyalgia Network WA in 2007, increasing its membership to more than 1,700 over the past eight years.
Kaye is a role model not only to people with fibromyalgia, but many others. She has led and organised educator forums and built community networks and services to improve care and support for people with the condition.
The 2015 John Curtin Medallists join 37 other outstanding individuals and organisations that have been awarded Curtin University’s most prestigious non-academic award over the last eighteen years.