m.a.d.woman and The Hon Michael Kirby celebrating after being named joint winners of the RMIT Communicator of the Year award.

RMIT University: Kirby and Schamroth named joint RMIT Communicator of the Year 2009
RMIT University today named former High Court judge, Michael Kirby, and community activist and m.a.d.woman founder, Melina Schamroth, joint winners of RMIT Communicator of the Year 2009.

Presenting their awards, Lauren Murray, Head of the School of Applied Communication, said: “It says something about the diversity and calibre of their achievements that our selection panel determined it would recognise two people this year.”

Ms Schamroth is the founder of Make a Difference, known as m.a.d.woman, an organisation that champions a wide range of community-related causes, in part by finding volunteers to work for them. Most recently she has supported bushfire-affected communities in Victoria.

“Just looking at Melina’s engaging and informative m.a.d.woman website gives you a strong sense of this dynamic and committed person,” Ms Murray, presenting the award to Ms Schamroth, said.

Quoting the Federal Attorney-General, who recently called the retiring High Court judge “the great communicator”, Ms Murray praised Mr Kirby for his wide-ranging commitment to community wellbeing.

“He is known for more than his ability to make difficult and technical concepts comprehensible and accessible to the layperson.

“He’s also known for speaking out, sometimes at personal cost, on community issues ranging from gay rights to – only last weekend – animal cruelty.”

The award is made to people who use communication to outstanding effect to achieve important community outcomes. Previous winners are Professor Tim Flannery and Jonathon Welch, of Choir of Hard Knocks fame.

The other finalists for the 2009 award were:

  • Federal MP Fran Bailey, who represents bushfire-afflicted McEwen
  • Anti-cyber bullying campaigner, Ali Halkic
  • Former Commissioner of Victoria Police, Christine Nixon