Long-serving UNICEF child protection and human rights campaigner, Amanda Bissex (A’87), became the fifth recipient of the Geelong Grammar School Medal for Service to Society on Friday 17 May.

Amanda received her award in front of a room filled with Old Geelong Grammarians, current and former staff, and members of the extended GGS community at the Geelong Grammar School & Geelong Grammar Foundation Black Tie Dinner, held at the State Library Victoria. The evening incorporated the 11th James R. Darling Oration, which was presented by Professor Rufus Black (Glamorgan’81).

Click to view a gallery of photos from the Dinner

Amanda has dedicated her career to child protection and providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. She is currently UNICEF Deputy Representative in China, having previously served as UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection in Laos, Thailand, Zambia, the Pacific and Indonesia, and as Regional Advisor on Child Protection at UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia in Nepal. Amanda began her career with CARE Australia and then worked with Australian Volunteers Abroad on landmine clearance programs in Cambodia and Laos before joining UNICEF, with an initial focus on child trafficking and the use of child soldiers in Myanmar.

Amanda said that it was “very humbling” to be awarded the Geelong Grammar School Medal for Service to Society for her work. “I was really shocked,” she admitted. “It was a very big surprise and not something I could ever imagine or expect, to be honest, because I always think I’m just lucky to do the job I do, right? I mean, I’m just fortunate that I get to do this job, which is so fulfilling. It’s a recognition of me, but I think it’s also a recognition of my colleagues and the work that they do as well. Individually, I couldn’t make the same impact as I can being within an organisation like UNICEF, which has always kept its focus on protecting and promoting child rights and is very brave, I think in many situations, in taking this focus forward. At the moment, UNICEF is in Gaza and on the front lines, trying to provide food and medicine to children. We’re in Ukraine. We’re in Myanmar. We’re in all these difficult countries, working with the most disadvantaged children, and I just have huge admiration and respect for my colleagues. Any recognition of the work that I do is a reflection of the work that they do as well.”

She joins an eminent group of GGS Medal of Service to Society recipients, comprising Thai health and education activist Mechai Viravaidya (P’59), human rights lawyer and refugee advocate Dr Eve Lester (Fr’81), legendary Papua New Guinea obstetrician and maternal health advocate, Professor Glen Liddell-Mola (P’64), and leading Australian philanthropist and pastoralist, Tim Fairfax (M’64).