ACU celebrates Australia Day honours

ACU’s staff and alumni received some of the nation’s highest honours in this year’s Australia Day awards. 

Their achievements span diverse fields including healthcare, sports and education. 

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis congratulated community members recognised as part of the 2024 Australia Day Honours.  

"I extend my warmest congratulations to our exceptional staff, alumni and friends honoured on Australia Day," Professor Skrbis said.


“We are proud to acknowledge their distinguished service to Australia and their connection to ACU. Their service and dedication exemplify ACU's mission and values."


Ellie Cole

Swimming champion and Bachelor of Exercise and Health Science alumna Ellie Cole was among those awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).  

Ellie became Australia’s most decorated female Paralympic athlete in 2021, winning 17 Paralympic medals. 

After 16 years in the pool, she was recognised for her services to sport, including her advocacy for greater accessibility and diversity.  

Fellow ACU alumnus, dual Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rachael Lynch was also named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to hockey.


Rachael is a Bachelor of Nursing alumna, starting her studies at ACU the same year she debuted for Australia.



 Evelyn Hovenga
Dr Evelyn Hovenga

Internationally recognised health educator Dr Evelyn Hovenga was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to medicine through health informatics, and digital transformation.


An Honorary Professor of Digital Health at ACU since 2020, Dr Hovenga has more than 30 years' experience in nursing informatics, a fast-growing field aimed at improving patient care through technology. Her work has had a significant impact on the Australian healthcare system.



 Brett Mitchell
Professor Brett Mitchell

ACU alumnus Professor Brett Mitchell was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to nursing.


Professor Mitchell completed his PhD at ACU in 2013 and is an internationally recognised researcher in infection prevention and control.


A Fellow of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control and the Australian College of Nursing, Professor Mitchell said he had always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.


He was the first nurse to chair the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

Dr Barry Fitzgerald, a former director of the Institute of Catholic Education and ACU’s Ballarat campus, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division.


The full list of Australia Day 2024 honours is available at the Office of the Governor-General’s website.

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