HASS success in UQ Awards for Excellence

30 November 2023

Congratulations to all staff members who were nominated for a UQ Award for Excellence. With 5 winners and 3 commendations associated with the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, HASS dominated the awards ceremony held yesterday afternoon!

A celebration of leadership behaviour and staff achievement across all levels of the University, regardless of position, the outstanding contributions, innovative work and exemplary leadership demonstrated at UQ was duly recognised.  

This year, 160 nominations were received across 8 categories, totalling 423 individuals being recognised for their efforts. HASS standouts are below:

Innovation Winner

It starts with Arts 

Melinda Kopanakis 
Kristen Johnston 
Mr Kyle Manning

Where can a Bachelor of Arts take you? That was the question answered by a small marketing and communication group over the past 2 years. In response to 2020 JRG fee increases and concerns expressed by potential BA students, they answered that question by developing a unique on-line tool to help potential students recognise they could turn their passion (+ a UQ BA) into a career. UQ’s share of domestic BA first preferences increased since it was launched. This year they released  "It Starts With Arts", telling the stories of 38 graduates and where their BA took them. 

Service Commendation

Ms Karen Wheeler, School Manager, School of Social Science

Karen Wheeler has given exemplary service for 25 years in various faculty and central roles, but it is in her current position as School Manager in the School of Social Science where her service is deserving of an Award for Excellence. Karen brings to her work a rare combination of attention to detail, a clear sense of process, strong social relationships, and strategic vision. Through understanding the connection between central and local and academic and professional, Karen is an exemplar School Manager. She has fundamentally transformed the School of Social Science and provided leadership across the Faculty and University.

Reconciliation Winners

Associate Professor Michael Westaway, Archaeology, School of Social Science

Michael Westaway is an outstanding community-based archaeological researcher, with a highly laudable record of community partnerships to empower Indigenous communities (Dunghatti, Kuarareg and Mithaka) in managing and interpreting their cultural heritage. His partnership with the Mithaka is exemplary: through two ARC Linkage grants, an ARC Discovery grant and a Future Fellowship, he has worked closely with Mithaka representatives in developing best practice models for cultural landscape management and interpretation. In these endeavours A/Prof. Westaway has demonstrated genuine and sustained commitment to fostering a respect and understanding of Indigenous culture and heritage within UQ, and in effectively communicating research outcomes.

Professor Tracey Bunda and Dr Katelyn Barney (Associate Professor with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and School of Music)

Tracey Bunda and Katelyn Barney’s relationship models for all of UQ a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous staff. Tracey (a Ngugi/Wakka Wakka woman) and Katelyn (a non-Indigenous woman) have worked together collaboratively in the ATSIS Unit on a number of projects and teaching over the last 5 years demonstrating how Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can work closely and respectfully together. Through this relationship, they have built a collection of innovative resources, grounded in their research and designed to guide and support others to embrace changes into their own practice in a relaxed and non-judgemental manner.

Reconciliation Commendation

"Camps, Cottages, and Homes: A brief history of Indigenous housing in Queensland" Exhibition team

Dr Timothy O'Rourke
Professor Paul Memmott
Mr Michael Aird
Miss Mandana Mapar

The highly acclaimed “Camps Cottages and Home: A brief history of Indigenous Housing in Queensland” (UQ Anthropology Museum, August 19 – October 28, 2022) was a ground-breaking exploration of housing for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the twentieth century. The exhibition, and accompanying catalogue (O’Rourke & Mapar, eds), provided important new insights into Queensland’s First Nations histories. A program of community engagement events for indigenous and non-indigenous participants, the scholarly catalogue provided a permanent record of this important exhibition and enabled research findings to be disseminated beyond Brisbane.

Diversity and Inclusion Winner

UQ Art Museum Engagement Team

Ms Danielle Harvey
Mr Justin Chen
Ms Shaneeza Fugurally
Ms Raluca Ghebosu
Miss Kealey Watson Griffiths
Miss Sam Huynh
Mr Darby Jones
Ms Isabelle Lawrence
Dr Carol Masel
Ms Lucy Milne
Miss Mansi Miryala
Miss Hann Ng
Mrs Alexandra Poiner
Ms Luisa Randall
Mrs Samatha Rowe
Ms Meghan Shannon
Miss Nikia Tester
Miss Meseret Vermeer
Ms Myfanwy Halton
Miss Jocelyn Flynn

Under Danielle Harvey's leadership, the UQ Art Museum (UQAM) Mediation team is transforming art accessibility through diverse engagement. Their innovative program employs cultural mediation, a pioneering initiative in Australia, enabling all visitors to engage in safe, exploratory conversations and experiences of UQAM exhibitions. D&I principles are woven through their work, with inclusive adjustments for staff and visitors, continuous learning in D&I, and a UQAM-specific Disability Action Plan and Dementia Friendly Audit implementation plan which will shape enhanced building accessibility and art's wider accessibility. Additionally, they host events for significant D&I days, and extend cultural mediation training to regional galleries nationwide.

Leadership Commendation


Dr Laura Garcias Carrascosa
Mr Paul Nicholls
Mr Tom Court
Professor Kim Wilkins
Mr Nimrod Klayman
Professor Martie-Louise Verreynne
Professor Mark Western
Dr Madonna Devaney
Dr Alisa Becker
Ms Michelle Claxton

The UQ SPARK team developed and delivered the SPARK Program, a Training Program designed to develop the industry engagement skills of level B and C academics through interactive workshops facilitated by industry-engaged academics, professional staff, and end-users from Industry. This outcome-focused Program has been extremely well received and helped an initial cohort of 24 academic staff understand academia-industry synergies and opportunities and tailor their own industry engagement strategy. This Program develops academics, who are already proficient researchers, to become adept industry problem-solvers, setting the foundation for a new standard in the research culture of academia-industry interaction at UQ.

UQ Ally Award Winner

Brooke Szucs, HASS graduate

As a student, Brooke co-founded UQU Minorities in Media Society (MiMS), successfully providing a welcoming group for a variety of students, especially queer students with intersecting identities. After graduating, she’s stayed in touch with MiMS about new initiatives to help the Society widen its connections in the University. As a UQ staff member, Brooke has shown leadership above and beyond her position in response to repeated incidents where Ally network posters have been removed from buildings and vandalised around UQ. At personal cost, she has put hours of her own time into visiting affected people and offices to replace missing posters multiple times, and let affected individuals know they are not alone. She continues to encourage others to display support for LGBTQIA+ people, and her direct efforts have led to broader action at the university. Her prompting and ongoing response and outreach have been invaluable in increasing visible support for LGBTQIA+ people. Brooke truly exemplifies the role of a UQ Ally and the purpose of the Network.

For a full list of winners and all nominees click here.