woman, glasses

Carol Kiernan

2020 Alumni Award for Social Impact

Bachelor of Arts, 1977
Bachelor of Arts (Honours), 1978

Carol Kiernan has dedicated her life to enabling safer, more empowered communities at home and abroad, both as a leading national and criminal intelligence expert and a passionate champion for social improvement.

In a distinguished career spanning more than forty years, Carol has reshaped the landscape of our national security. Most notably, she established the National Missing Persons Unit in the late 1990s, delivering crucial cross-jurisdictional law enforcement coordination for the more than 30,000 missing persons cases nationally each year. She also created the annual National Missing Persons Week program to generate awareness, prevention, location and support for those affected.

Hailed internationally as best practice, Carol’s ground-breaking work in this area led other countries to seek her assistance in establishing their own missing persons initiatives. Rotary International awarded Carol the Paul Harris Fellowship for her exemplary work in the community.

Carol established and managed an Australian Federal Police branch providing strategic intelligence on domestic and international crime, terrorism and security threats, and was part of the team that led the transition of three different agencies into what is now the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. She continues to serve as an intelligence and communications consultant in Australia, the United States and the Philippines.

Carol has an innate drive to foster supportive communities. Herself an experienced writer and published author, she has given much time and energy to nurturing strong support networks for fellow creatives, including building a mutual support group for writers in Serbia while on assignment in Belgrade for the World Bank. She edited and arranged the publication of a collection of their short stories, donating the profits to support education for disadvantaged Serbian children.

Later, while in Washington DC for the World Bank, she led a range of valuable initiatives to support dislocated partners and families of the organisation’s staff. Among these was a professional development program supporting spouses to find meaningful work.

In recent years, Carol has poured her passion into achieving equal recognition for women in Australia’s highest national honour system, the Order of Australia, as a co-founder of the Honour a Woman movement. Since its inception in 2017, the volunteer-led movement has made genuine strides in its mission to achieve parity, inspiring national and state-based initiatives that are slowly increasing the nominations and awards for deserving women. She continues to push for more rapid and sustained progress.

Chancellor, through both her professional career and volunteer work, Carol Kiernan has made a significant and lasting contribution to communities in Australia and around the world. She has consistently demonstrated considerable compassion and humanity, working tirelessly for positive social change and bringing those around her into her vision for a better tomorrow.

It is a privilege to present Carol Kiernan for the 2020 Alumni Award for Social Impact.