Shaping Australia Awards seek a People’s Choice verdict

November 29, 2023


The community is invited to vote for the university initiatives that they believe are most valuable for the nation in the People’s Choice phase of the Shaping ­Australia Awards, which opens on Wednesday.

In each of the award’s three categories – teaching, research and community service – a community vote will decide the People’s Choice winner from the six finalists named in each category.

Among the finalists are La Trobe University’s Nexus program to transform teacher education, UNSW’s Peter Farrell Cup for students pitching start-up company ideas, and Macquarie University’s Nano SunWatch to guard against skin cancer.

Other finalists include the University of Newcastle’s bio­sensor, which will change diabetes treatment, the University of South Australia’s program to end the suicide epidemic devastating rural communities, Curtin University’s free tax clinic for vulnerable communities and Southern Cross University’s effort in ­Lismore to assist its community and rebuild after the 2022 floods.

Lisa Paul, chair of the Shaping Australia Awards judging panel, said universities were “full of bright and passionate individuals and teams who drive new ideas and initiatives that benefit all Australians and make our nation stronger and safer”.

“I invite everyone around the country to take a look at the finalists and cast their vote on the people and projects they think have made the biggest difference to our country and communities,” Ms Paul said.

Launched in September, the awards are an initiative of Universities Australia in partnership with The Australian. UA chief executive Catriona Jackson congratulated the finalists for their “solutions-driven approaches to real challenges”.

“We look forward to showing these exceptional finalists to the Australian community over the coming months,” she said.

The Community Champion Award recognises life-changing community service. Finalists are:

• Southern Cross University: A safe haven and partner – Northern Rivers floods;

• CQUniversity: U-BEACH, a beach for everyone;

• Monash University: A voice for the voiceless – 50 Years of meeting diverse community legal needs;

• The University of Western Australia: Leading the charge on Indigenous suicide prevention;

• The University of South Australia: ifarmwell – ending the suicide epidemic devastating rural communities, and;

• Curtin University: The tax clinic initiative – free tax services for vulnerable communities.

The Problem Solver Award recognises world-class research. Finalists are:

• UNSW: New technologies to save homes in bushfire-prone areas;

• La Trobe University: Transforming midwifery care for First Nations women;

• Queensland University of Technology: Future adhesion – Sticking to reef restoration;

• Macquarie University: The Nano SunWatch – A guardian against skin cancer, entered by Associate Professor Noushin Nasiri;

• University of Newcastle: A revolutionary biosensor to change the treatment of diabetes forever, and;

• UNSW: The Eco-Alchemist, entered by Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

The Future Builder Award recognises inspired teaching initiatives. Finalists are:

• RMIT: Excellence and innovation in care economy higher apprenticeships;

• UNSW: From ideas to impact – 2023 Peter Farrell Cup;

• La Trobe University: A vision for student learning experience – the La Trobe Eye Clinic;

• University of South Australia: Transforming anatomy from a first-year headache to many students’ favourite subject;

• Western Sydney University: Academy U – the next generation of global citizens, leaders and change-makers, and;

• La Trobe University: The Nexus Program transforming teacher education.

In each category you can vote for the initiative you think contributes most to the nation at Votingis open until January 30.