Social Impact

Charles Sturt University Distinguished Alumnus of the Year – Social Impact

This award recognises leaders/individuals whose professional or voluntary work has generated significant social impact to a group or wider community(ies).


Winner: Hon Linda Burney
Career: Minister for Indigenous Australians. Member for Barton
Diploma of Teaching (General Primary), 1979; Honorary Doctorate in Education, 2002

Hon. Linda Burney is a proud Wiradjuri woman and the first Aboriginal student to graduate from Mitchell College of Advanced Education (an antecedent institution of Charles Sturt University) with a Diploma of Teaching (General Primary) in 1979. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Charles Sturt University in 2002. She is also the first Aboriginal person to be elected to the NSW Parliament and the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives, serving as the Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Member for Barton.

Linda is passionate about advancing social justice and Indigenous rights within Australia and her Indigenous identity is a strong motivator for her career in politics. She was appointed to cabinet in May 2022 by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and has been tasked with implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including responsibility for a referendum to establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament. Linda continues to advocate for greater Aboriginal representation in Parliament to ensure that Indigenous issues remain front and centre.

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Highly Commended

Winner: Grant Edwards
Career: Leadership and Mental Health Consultant / Leadership Specialist / Former AFP Commander / Author / Public Speaker
Graduate Certificate in Police Management, 2001; Master of Leadership, Policy and Governance, 2016

Mr Grant Edwards is a retired Australian Federal Police Officer with 34 years’ service. He has diverse field experience and has held senior responsibility across 13 countries. Grant currently volunteers as an ambassador for non-for-profit organisations, works as a leadership and mental health consultant and sits on the advisory board chair of the Centre of Excellence for Law Enforcement and Public Health.

Grant has published numerous academic papers across the world on mental health in law enforcement and in 2017, his lived experience of PTSD was featured on ABC’s Australian Story. His memoir 'The Strong Man' was published in 2019. Grant is also an accomplished sportsperson having represented Australia in events such as the 1999 World’s Strongest Man competition in Malta. Since retiring, Grant has dedicated his time to consulting on mental health and wellbeing across the globe.

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