Seven UTS alumni are among the outstanding Australians recognised in 2017 Australia Day Honours for their contributions to sport, public service, diversity and community organisations.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said: “The contributions of these graduates in their chosen fields highlight the qualities that are at the heart of the university – a commitment to social justice, diversity, community service and a passion for excellence. We congratulate each of them on their remarkable achievements.”
Triathlete Katie Kelly (Master of Business – Marketing, 2010) was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to sport, after her gold medal win at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janiero. Kelly, who has Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting sight and hearing, was classified legally blind in early 2015. She won gold in the PT5 category in Rio, racing with her guide Michellie Jones.
Also recognised for services to sport was Andrew Purchas (Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, 1991), whose contributions to rugby union, and to the promotion of social inclusion for LGBTI people, earned him a Medal of the Order of Australia. Purchas is chairman of the International Gay Rugby Association and founder of the Sydney Convicts, Australia's first gay rugby union club.
Michelle Leonard (Master of Arts in Communication Management, 2002) received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community and to the performing arts. She is founder and artistic director of Moorambilla Voices, a community organisation that encourages children in remote and regional NSW to learn about artistic expression. Since its establishment in 2006, the choir has brought together more than 17,500 students from 78 schools, and been the subject of two documentaries, Wide Open Sky and Outback Choir.
Also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia were Leonard Mahemoff (Bachelor of Laws, 1998), in recognition of more than 50 years of service to the Jewish community through a range of organisations, and Yair Miller (Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, 2001) for service to the community through a range of organisations, and to interfaith relations.
Greg McTaggart (Bachelor of Civil Engineering, 1981) was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to the maintenance and conservation of the Sydney Opera House. McTaggart is an advocate for sustainability who has led the planning and delivery of all major building projects at the World Heritage-listed arts centre since 2003.
Peter Riordan (Master of Business Administration, 2002) also received the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to industrial relations and education in NSW.