Newton-John Alumni Medal

The Newton-John Alumni Medal recognises innovation and creativity of alumni who have achieved excellence in arts, creative sectors and culture.

The community has been inspired by past recipients working in film and television, leading animation studios and world class photography.

Nominees must meet the following selection criteria

  • Hold a minimum undergraduate Bachelor degree from the University of Newcastle
  • Demonstrate innovation or creativity in any field with the emphasis on originality, longevity, cultural and/or social value to the community.

Professor Newton John, one of UONs founding fathers.Professor Brinley Newton-John was a man of many facets. Upon being commissioned in the Royal Air Force, he was seconded to the infamous top-secret Ultra project at Bletchley Park; the intelligence unit that famously broke the German Enigma codes and provided Allies advance knowledge of enemy plans.

In 1954, he and his young family, including daughter Olivia, emigrated to Australia where he took the role of Master of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne.

He joined the University of Newcastle in 1958 as an associate professor in German and head of the department of arts.

In 1968 he was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor and frequently stepped in as acting Vice-Chancellor in place of J. J. Auchmuty. This was an important time for our University, achieving independence and rapidly expanding throughout the following decade.

He is remembered by former students not only for the brilliance of his instruction, but also for the sense that he took them seriously and treated them without condescension.

“He had a special interest in student activities and welfare, establishing the first university choir, participating in productions by the Student Players, and encouraging revues.”

2020 Recipient
Heath Johns

Managing Director, BMG Australia & New Zealand
Master of Marketing 2007
Master of Business Administration 2006

Heath Johns

Heath Johns was the first employee and named Managing Director of BMG Australia and New Zealand in early 2016. Previously he was the Director of A&R at Universal Music Publishing Group - Australia having joined the company in February 2003 after a stint in A&R at the original incarnation of record label BMG . He earlier cut his teeth on the Newcastle music scene organising local all ages events, hosting community radio and as a freelance music journalist. Since launching the reborn BMG Australia, Heath has signed Alison Wonderland, Chet Faker, Crowded House, Dune Rats, Dope Lemon, Peking Duk, Didirri, Kwame, Tim Minchin, Golden Features, Julia Stone, CHAII, Winston Surfshirt and Hockey Dad amongst many others.

Heath led BMG Australia’s acquisitions of both iconic Australian music company Alberts and also leading Asia Pacific Production Music Company Big, Bang & Fuzz.

In 2020, he was named as one of the 'Power 50' in the Australian music industry.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.