A former cabinet minister and human rights advocate, an aid worker overseeing the response to an unprecedented refugee crisis, and a poet-rapper using his words to combat intolerance, are the CASS alumni honoured at the 2018 ANU Alumni Awards.
Susan Ryan AO, who completed a Master of Arts in 1974 at ANU, was named the University’s Alumna of the Year, recognising her tireless work against discrimination, and advocacy for human rights.
Ms Ryan served as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner, and was appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner in 2014. She was a founding member of Women’s electoral lobby and among the first elected to the newly formed ACT Legislative Assembly in 1974.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC said Ms Ryan had changed the lives of Australian women forever by introducing equal opportunity and affirmative action laws into Australia.
Professor Schmidt described Ms Ryan as “a formidable force in Australian society for decades and she remains a powerful role model for women everywhere.”
Andrew Harper AM (pictured), who completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1987, was named International Alumnus of the Year. Serving as Director of Programs for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, Andrew oversees the provision of relief to refugees, at a time of unprecedented hardship and displacement. Over 17 million refugees are within the responsibility of the UNHCR.
In a career that began at the Australian Embassy in Turkey, confronting the refugee aftermath of the First Gulf War, Andrew has since spent two decades working to help those affected by the disasters born of nature and humanity. His work has taking him to the frontlines of the 2004 Tsunami, and to Jordan overseeing the establishment of refugee camps that now house more than 130,000 displaced by conflict in Syria.
Omar Musa, who completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2006, was honoured as Young Alumnus of the Year. A Malaysian-Australian author, rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, and the son of two ANU alumni, his three books of poems and four hip-hop albums address the ways racist and misogynistic language impacts marginalised communities.
A mentor to young men, Omar uses his work to help them find a voice and change the way they express themselves. He is a winner of the Australian and Indian Ocean Poetry Slams. His debut novel, ‘Here Come the Dogs’ was published by Penguin Australia in 2014. In 2015 he was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year.
The College congratulates all those honoured at this year’s awards.