Highest honours awarded to seven new Distinguished Alumni

A former refugee turned community advocate; a leading Family Therapy practitioner; a globally recognised geneticist, and the Australian Government’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer are among the seven remarkable alumni recognised this year.

La Trobe University is delighted to announce its 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award winners. The seven recipients were awarded in a ceremony hosted by the Chancellor, the Hon. John Brumby AO, and newly appointed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theo Farrell.

The 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Emeritus Professor Philip Batterham, an internationally renowned geneticist and science communicator;
  • Daniel Creasey, a leading pro bono and responsible business lawyer;
  • Adjunct Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan PSM, the Australian Government’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer who helped steer the public response to COVID-19;
  • Banu Maloney, a driving force in the field of Family Therapy for over 40 years;
  • Julie Oberin AM, a global leader in the crusade against domestic and family violence;
  • Dr Di Winkler AM, an occupational therapist reframing how we consider housing for people with a disability.

The 2024 Young Achiever Award recipient is:

  • Akuch Kuol Anyieth, a former refugee turned academic and an advocate for her community in Australia.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are one of the highest honours bestowed by La Trobe University and are selected annually from a community of more than 250,000 graduates.

La Trobe University Chancellor, the Hon. John Brumby AO, said this year’s Distinguished Alumni are indicative of the high calibre of our alumni community.

“From healthcare to biological science to law and community activism, our Distinguished Alumni have made their mark as industry leaders and innovators. They personify the La Trobe spirit, and demonstrate the profound impact that higher education can have,” Mr Brumby said.

“Hearing this remarkable group share their stories, and what their time at university meant to them, it makes me incredibly proud.”

The event was also attended by La Trobe University’s newly appointed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theo Farrell.

“The Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner was a wonderful celebration with our partners and supporters who share La Trobe’s commitment to values and excellence,” Professor Farrell said.

“La Trobe is a university that is deeply purpose-driven and committed to contributing positively to the community. The alumni we have recognised with our 2024 awards are a fantastic example of the way that La Trobe people help to make the world a better place.”

The 2024 Awards were presented in partnership with CyberCX, Australia's leading provider of end-to-end cyber security and cloud services, who have a long-standing strategic relationship with La Trobe.

CyberCX’s CEO, John Paitaridis, said CyberCX is proud to be a partner of La Trobe’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

“La Trobe is one of the leading universities and research institutions in our region. Our partnership is about more than just a business relationship. It’s about values, vision and passion. We share a common commitment to forging new frontiers through secure digital innovation and research” Mr Paitaridis said.

“As an industry leader who understands that exceptional people can create wide-ranging and profound impact, CyberCX is pleased to support La Trobe in acknowledging the real-world difference that their extraordinary alumni make.”

2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognises La Trobe University alumni for significant personal, and professional achievements, in service to their community, state or nation.

Emeritus Professor Philip Batterham 

Philip Batterham is an internationally renowned geneticist, specialising in the field of insecticide resistance. A highly published scholar, his research examines better and more sustainable use of insecticides – impacting our wider food chain, ecosystems, and health. A keen collaborator and community builder, Philip has organised several major international conferences including the International Congress of Genetics (2003 & 2023) and a UN Conference on Global Health (2010). He has been acknowledged nationally for excellence in his research, teaching and science communication and is the current President of the International Genetics Federation.

Philip completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) (1977) from La Trobe University.

Daniel Creasey 

Daniel Creasey is a leading pro bono and responsible business lawyer. He works alongside the not-for-profit, government and corporate sectors at the global and local level to minimise risk and maximise positive societal and environmental impact. He is especially passionate about working with First Nations community-controlled organisations. He is currently the Director of Responsible Business at international law firm King & Wood Mallesons, a member of the firm’s Leadership Group, and leads the firm’s responsible business & sustainability framework, including its social impact practice.   

Daniel completed a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Media Studies (2004) at La Trobe University.

Adjunct Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan PSM 

Alison McMillan has made a career providing advocacy and leadership across the Australian nursing, midwifery, and health care systems. A registered nurse for more than 40 years, she also has over 30 years’ experience as an executive manager across the public health system, including senior executive roles in government. In 2019 she was appointed as the Australian Government’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and helped drive the public response to COVID-19. Alison is now leading a range of strategic reform initiatives while advocating for evidence-based practices and delivery of high-quality care. She continues to inspire and empower nurses and midwives, paving the way for a healthier and more resilient Australia.  

Alison completed a Bachelor of Education (1995) at La Trobe University.

Banu Maloney 

Banu Moloney is a qualified social worker, psychologist and family therapist with more than 40 years’ experience. She was a key contributor to the establishment and evolution of Family Therapy in Australia and abroad. She has an incredible 50-year association with the Bouverie Centre, including 15 years as a member of the Indigenous team, where she designed and delivered the Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for First Nations Child and Family Workers. This highly successful program ensures cultural competency and incorporates Indigenous wisdoms in teaching and clinical work. Banu is a former Adjunct Senior Lecturer at The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University.

Banu completed a Bachelor of Education (Counselling) (1985) and Master of Counselling and Human Services (Coursework) (1999) at La Trobe University.

Julie Oberin AM 

Julie Oberin has dedicated her life to supporting women and children who experience domestic or family violence. She has led changes to both policy and practice for over 30 years; advising key policy makers at the local, national and international level. She has helped thousands of people through her leadership of one of Australia’s most respected women’s refuge facilities in Central Victoria, Annie North Inc, where she is Chief Executive Officer. Julie has also been National Chair of WESNET, the peak national organisation of specialist women’s domestic and family violence services, for many years.

Julie completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (1996) and Master of Social Work (Coursework) (2001) at La Trobe University, Bendigo.

Dr Di Winkler AM 

Di Winkler is an occupational therapist who initially worked with people with severe brain injury. She started a PhD then established the Summer Foundation in January 2006 after becoming frustrated by the lack of appropriate housing and support for young people with disability. She completed her PhD in 2012 on the topic of Younger People Living in Nursing Homes. The Summer Foundation is changing systems to ensure people with disability and complex support needs have access to high quality housing options that enhance health, wellbeing, and participation. A lifelong researcher, Di is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Living with Disability Research Centre at La Trobe University.

Di completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) (1990), Graduate Diploma Neurosciences (1994) and Master Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) (2003) at La Trobe University.

2024 Young Achiever Award 

The Young Achiever Award recognises outstanding alumni aged 35 years or younger. It is awarded to those who have achieved significant success in their early careers.

Akuch Kuol Anyieth

Akuch Kuol Anyieth is a researcher, public speaker, and community advocate. She is an educator on family violence and trauma-informed practice, and the author of several books on contemporary refugee and diaspora topics. Akuch and her family spent more than nine years living in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp after fleeing South Sudan. The family moved to Australia in 2005, speaking no English. Her biography, ‘Unknown: A Refugee’s Story’, was shortlisted for the 2023 National Biography Award and she has been recognised for her advocacy and community-building work – most recently being inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.  

Akuch completed a Bachelor of Legal Studies (2014) and a Master of Arts (Research) (2020), and she is currently writing her PhD at La Trobe University.