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Former Major-General wins top award


Steve Spinks
30 August 2014
The first woman to be made a Major-General in the Australian Army has been named as Southern Cross University’s Alumnus of the Past 20 Years today (Saturday, August 30).

Major-General Liz Cosson AM CSC (Ret’d) was announced the winner of the award at a ceremony marking the 20 year anniversary of the University at the Lismore campus. The award takes in the graduates of SCU’s predecessor institutions – Lismore Teachers’ College, the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education and the University of New England Northern Rivers.

Ms Cosson is now a senior executive with the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection, where, as deputy secretary of the business services group, she is responsible for delivering a range of corporate services.
Currently in the Mediterranean, Liz Cosson was unable to attend today’s ceremony and sent a heartfelt acceptance message.

“I feel so honoured to be recognised for this prestigious award, Alumnus of the Past 20 Years. I am so sorry that I cannot join you at the ceremony as I am travelling overseas with my husband where we are revisiting the history of ancient Rome, enjoying the pleasures of Italian cuisine,” she said.

“I have been very blessed during my life and this award is very significant and valued. Although I enjoyed a very good education, and attended many schools, I left school in year 11, in 1975 before commencing a career with the Australian Army in 1979.

“I am privileged to have been offered the opportunity to continue my education as an adult with Southern Cross University. Despite finding it challenging to continue full-time military employment whilst studying, I can report that I found the time very rewarding.

“Through my Social Science degree the subject matter was not only enjoyable but also relevant to my career. The chance to extend my education and build on my learning foundation played a critical role in my career progression.

“Southern Cross University encouraged me to learn and enjoy my education. My experience inspired me to undertake further study and I have since completed my Masters.

“I have enjoyed a remarkable career, with some wonderful opportunities. Embracing education and pursuing professional and personal development were critical to my success. I am very proud to accept and thank you for this honour.”

The 2014 Alumni of the Year and Outstanding Alumnus of the Year awards were also presented by the University’s Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC.

Lisa Charet, from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, was announced as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Ms Charet graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1999, and has an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the University of Sydney. After graduating she joined Sydney Water as a water and wastewater scientist. She rose to the role of executive officer and manager of Sydney Water’s Environment and Heritage team, where she led the transformation of Sydney Water’s environmental reporting.

For the past 10 years Lisa has held key positions with the Department of Family and Community Services and is currently district director for the Western Sydney District where she manages a staff of more than 1,000. Lisa recently won the Institute of Public Administration Award for Individual Excellence for Collaboration in recognition of her “development of innovative, person-centred delivery and improved outcomes for vulnerable children in need of care and protection and out-of-home care”.

Benedict Coyne, from the School of Law and Justice, was announced as the 2014 Young Alumnus of the Year.

Mr Coyne graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) in 2010, and was awarded the University Medal. Benedict is currently a candidate in the Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. Benedict is a human rights lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in Brisbane and has a strong personal commitment to social justice and human rights advocacy.

He is continuing his third year as a Queensland State Convenor of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights; and his second year as an Ordinary Member of the ALHR national committee. Benedict is a member of the Law and Justice Institute of Queensland, the International Commission of Jurists Queensland and the Brisbane Pro Bono Lawyers Network. He travelled from London to attend the awards.

Photo: University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee, left, Benedict Coyne (Young Alumnus of the Year), Lisa Charet (Outstanding Alumnus of the Year) and Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC.