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Campus News : July 2011
8 Campus News July 2011 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au Alumni graduates of our university... GARETH WARD Bachelor of Arts (Politics), and Bachelor of Commerce 2007 When Gareth Ward took his place in the NSW Parliament as the new Liberal Member for Kiama after the March State election, he was already an experienced politician who honed his political skills while a student at UOW. Gareth has been a councillor on Shoalhaven City Councillor since 2004, when he was elected as a 22-year-old. He also served as Deputy Mayor from March 2008 to September 2010. He was involved in student politics while he studied for an Arts/Commerce double degree at UOW, serving on the Wollongong University Student Association, as a student representative on the UniCentre board, and reviving the UOW Liberal Club. "University wasn't just an academic outlet, it was also a political training ground," Gareth said. "Not only did I learn a great deal about my chosen fields of academia, but I also gained a very practical understanding of how the art of politics works at a grassroots level. This experience has been vital in my professional political life. "Student politics were a very large part of my campus life. I remember organising Liberal Club social events as well as contesting student elections, and was also heavily involved in the campus Debating Society and activities surrounding the Commerce Faculty." Gareth said he chose UOW after visiting a number of tertiary institutions while in Year 12 at Bomaderry High School. "None had an atmosphere like the University of Wollongong. The learning environment was second to none and I felt that there was something unique about Wollongong," he said. "Having grown up in the region, I also knew many local people who spoke highly of their time at UOW. The University had both a good image and academic momentum so it was a very attractive proposition." Gareth's experiences at UOW led him to seek a graduate position on the University Council, so that he could put something back into the institution. "I wouldn't be where I am today without the experiences and education gained from the University of Wollongong and I MP honed political skills at UOW RYAN PARK Bachelor of Education (Honours) -- Physical and Health, University Medallist 1999 Master of Education 2002 Ryan Park became a high school teacher because he wanted a job where he could make an impact on people's lives, and in doing so help to improve the community. That was also the reason he went into politics, and now Ryan can seek to make an impact on the lives of many more people in his new role as a Member of Parliament. Ryan became the new Labor MP for the Illawarra seat of Keira at the NSW state election in March, replacing long-serving MP and Minister (and Ryan's former boss) David Campbell who had retired. "Like teaching, an effective local Member of Parliament can have a real impact on the community they love and are passionate about," Ryan said. "I loved teaching, and the communication and negotiating skills I developed as a teacher are definitely something I use every day in my new role as the Member for Keira." After graduating from UOW in 2002 as a Physical Education teacher, Ryan spent three years at Lake Illawarra High before joining the Department of Education for a year. He then joined the Department of Premier and Cabinet in a role supporting Mr Campbell, who was Minister for the Illawarra. He was then appointed as an advisor to Mr Campbell at the end of 2003 and went on to become his longest-serving chief of staff. Ryan was appointed Deputy Director- General of Transport NSW in 2009, before entering the world of politics by winning pre-selection as Labor candidate for Keira after Mr Campbell announced his plans to retire. "I have always had an interest in leadership and politics and I didn't want to have any regrets if I let the opportunity pass Ryan's community focus me by," Ryan said. With opinion polls pointing to a crushing defeat for the Labor Government, Ryan campaigned doggedly to defeat high-profile Liberal candidate and former rugby league star John Dorahy in the election. He attributes his victory to "old-fashioned hard work". "I door-knocked 7000 homes, tried to ring 100 people most days and conducted street corner meetings and mobile offices to meet people and show them how committed I was to advancing the cause of their community. I am very grateful to the people of Keira for their trust and support." Ryan's electorate includes the University of Wollongong, and he says he is determined to promote its interests at State Parliament. "No-one will be a stronger advocate for the University than me," he said. "I intend to make sure the NSW Cabinet is well aware of the work and contribution it makes and to ensure that funding and opportunities match that contribution." felt that I wanted to give something back to the University community," he said. "Our University Council plays a critical role in strategic planning and monitoring the standards that protect the reputation of our University. As a graduate I felt I could play a part in not only sustaining but continuing to lift the standards that have placed our institution in such creditable regard." Gareth achieved a 19.5 percent swing on a two-party preferred basis to make history as the first Liberal MP for the previously safe Labor seat of Kiama at the election, replacing another UOW graduate Matt Brown who had held the seat since 1999. Gareth says upgrades to Shellharbour and Shoalhaven Hospitals are high on the agenda, along with the Coalition's proposed $500 million upgrade to the Princes Highway, ensuring more funds for frontline services such as nurses and police and returning important planning and development powers to local communities. "My ambitions are focused on what government can deliver for the Shoalhaven and Illawarra. So many people in politics talk about what they will do. I'd like to think that my record will be seen through tangible results delivered through connecting our community's vision for our region with Government in order to see real change in our district." He won't seek re-election to Shoalhaven Council when his term expires in 2012, but intends remaining a Councillor until then, explaining: "The cost of a by-election in the Shoalhaven is around $180,000 and I would rather these funds fill pot holes than my Council seat!" NH Gareth Ward brushed up on parliamentary protocols before his maiden speech to the NSW Parliament. Photo courtesy Illawarra Mercury/Greg Totman. Ryan looks back on his time as a student with great affection. "UOW was a very welcoming and inspiring place for a young person to study .... and the students and staff in the Physical Education Department were very close, which made coming to Uni feel like being part of an extended family." He reserved special praise for the current Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Patterson: "Whenever John Patterson gave us a lecture it was worth the world, because you left there with more challenges, more questions and a different perspective on an issue you thought you had figured out." NH Ryan Park Two new parliamentarians