Dr Aunty Barbara Nicholson and Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM

UOW women recognised in 2024 City of Wollongong Awards

UOW women recognised in 2024 City of Wollongong Awards

Awards celebrate work in Indigenous literacy, wildlife conservation and contemporary art

Three members of the University of Wollongong (UOW) community – Dr Aunty Barbara Nicholson, Dr Aimee Silla and Judy Bourke – were acknowledged for their contributions to the region in the annual City of Wollongong Awards handed out by Wollongong City Council (WCC) on Friday 19 January.

The awards honour individuals who have made significant positive impacts through community service, leadership, volunteer work and other notable contributions. The awards aim to celebrate and acknowledge the efforts of those who have gone above and beyond to enhance the well-being of the community.

Wollongong’s Citizen of the Year for 2024 is Dr Aunty Barbara Nicholson, who has been a part of the UOW community for more than 20 years. Aunty Barb lectured in Aboriginal studies, history, law, and literature and has been an Honorary Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Business and Law since 1999. In 2006 Aunty Barb joined the Human Research Ethics Committee and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2014.

Aunty Barb’s award recognises her achievements as a leader, educator, poet, storyteller, activist, and a dedicated advocate for the disadvantaged and incarcerated.

The awards committee cited her commitment to the Junee Correctional Centre, where she has visited more than 300 times and, through her Black Wallaby project, has introduced numerous Indigenous inmates to the world of creative writing. Her outstanding contributions in this field earned her a Lifetime Achievement Award for First Nations Literature.

UOW biologist Dr Aimee Silla was awarded the Innovation Achievement Award for dedication to wildlife preservation in protecting Northern Corroboree Frogs. Dr Silla is a Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award recipient specialising in the development of reproductive technologies as tools for the conservation of threatened amphibians. A staggering 41 per cent of amphibian species are now threatened with extinction. Dr Silla’s research aims to address this biodiversity crisis with an innovative interdisciplinary scientific approach. Her work has led to the generation and release of more than 800 Northern Corroboree Frogs.

UOW Alumni Judy Bourke received the award for Arts and Cultural Achievement. Ms Bourke graduated from UOW in 1988 and has been instrumental in the Illawarra’s artistic life. She is a founding member of the Illawarra Association for the Visual Arts, President of the Barracks Art Studios Thirroul and helped ensure the revival and survival of the city’s contemporary art gallery, Project Contemporary Artspace.