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25 Nov 2022 • 5 minute read

Changemakers and inspiring leaders recognised at ECU Alumni Awards

Network 10 journalist and presenter Narelda Jacobs was one of eight outstanding ECU Alumni celebrated at the University’s prestigious Alumni Awards ceremony. Narelda is a journalism trailblazer and powerful voice for change.

ECU 2021 Community Alumni Award winner Narelda Jacobs making her acceptance speech at the ECU Alumni Awards.
ECU 2021 Community Alumni Award winner Narelda Jacobs making her acceptance speech at the ECU Alumni Awards.

Network 10 journalist and presenter Narelda Jacobs was one of eight outstanding Edith Cowan University (ECU) Alumni celebrated at the University’s prestigious Alumni Awards ceremony on Wednesday, 23 November 2022.

The awards honour remarkable members of the ECU Alumni community who have made a significant contribution to society, displayed dynamic and impactful leadership, and inspired others through their achievements.

Narelda was named the winner of the 2021 Community Alumni Award for her extraordinary impact in the field of equality, diversity and social responsibility.

Narelda’s ECU journey

A proud Whadjuk Noongar woman, Narelda is a journalism trailblazer and powerful voice for change.

As the first Aboriginal student to undertake ECU’s broadcasting course, Narelda graduated in 1999 with an Associate Degree of Performing Arts and ambitions for a career in television

“My confidence and self-belief was highly encouraged at ECU. My lecturer challenged the pre-conceived ideas I had for my career and inspired me to think big and break the mould.”

Starting her journalism career in 2000 at GWN Bunbury, it was within a few months that Narelda joined Network 10 and would become the first Aboriginal and openly lesbian news anchor for a commercial network in Australia.

Some 20 years later, she is among Australia’s most influential, and widely respected journalists.

“Studying at ECU was the beginning of the rest of my life,” Narelda said.

ECU 2021 Community Alumni Award winner Narelda Jacobs.
ECU 2021 Community Alumni Award winner Narelda Jacobs.

By bringing new perspectives to television, Narelda hopes to inspire people to be more inclusive and accepting of one another.

“I am passionate about creating platforms where underrepresented voices are heard. I believe that journalists should be able to bring their own experiences to the story.”

Narelda shared one of her proudest achievements was leading an important reconciliation initiative with Network 10 where traditional Aboriginal place names were for the first time included in an Australian national weather bulletin. This ongoing initiative has progressed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the media landscape and paved the way for industry to follow.

A shining star of ECU Alumni

Narelda is an active and passionate advocate for equality, diversity, and inclusion. Through her involvement with various charities and non-profits she has established herself as a leading voice for social reform and reconciliation in Australia.

"The Alumni community at ECU is a very special league of people that I feel really privileged to be a part of. To have your work recognised in this way is just incredible,” Narelda said.

“I am so humbled to be the recipient of this award. You don’t do things in life to get awards so it’s an honour.”

Words of wisdom

When asked if she had advice for the next generation of journalists and broadcasters, Narelda was quick to offer encouragement.

“Anyone who has a dream of becoming a journalist, a presenter, a content creator, or a teller of stories should just do it. Apply to study at ECU,” Narelda said.

“My biggest advice to anyone going into journalism: create a place where conversations include varied perspectives and give everyone equal voice.

“Apply yourself and don’t do things just because they have always been done a certain way.

“Think of ways to present that are different to the norm, ways that show new ideas. It can be nerve-racking to do, but I say go for it. Because you can be the one to change things.

“We need to hear from as many voices as possible. And if you don’t have a platform – create your own!”

ECU Alumni Award winners (L-R): Elsie Penny OAM, Breanna Cameron, Christian Wright, Narelda Jacobs, ECU Chancellor Denise Goldsworthy AO, Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, Ed Kalajzic, Lorna Cook and Kevin Penkin
ECU Alumni Award winners (L-R): Elsie Penny OAM, Breanna Cameron, Christian Wright, Narelda Jacobs, ECU Chancellor Denise Goldsworthy AO, Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, Ed Kalajzic, Lorna Cook and Kevin Penkin.

Award winners

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman CBE congratulated all winners and nominees.

“These Alumni Awards showcase the impact and value of an ECU education – and inspire current and future students in evidencing what is possible with an ECU degree behind them,” Professor Chapman said.

“On behalf of ECU, we are proud to have played a part in your journey to success.”

Young Alumni Award

2021 Award Winner: Christian Wright
2022 Award Winner: Breanna Cameron

Community Alumni Award

2021 Award Winner: Narelda Jacobs
2022 Award Winner: Elsie Penny OAM

International Alumni Award

2021 Award Winner: Dr Nalishebo Meebelo
2022 Award Winner: Kevin Penkin

Distinguished Alumni Award

2021 Award Winner: Ed Kalajzic
2022 Award Winner: Lorna Cook

Hear from our latest winners what their Award means to them:

The ECU Alumni Awards 2021 & 2022 were held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia on Wednesday, 23 November.

For more information about the 2021 winners and 2022 winners announced at the ECU Alumni Awards, and the benefits of ECU’s alumni network, visit the ECU Alumni website.

ECU’s postgraduate Graduate Diploma of Broadcasting sits within the School of Arts and Humanities at ECU.

For information on journalism and broadcasting courses at ECU, visit: ecuworldready.com.au/media-and-communication