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University of Sydney honours Poche Centre donors


13 December 2013

The University awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to Greg Poche and the title of Honorary Fellow to Reg Richardson in recognition of their contribution to the University's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health: Dr Tom Calma AO (Patron of the Poche Centres), Greg Poche AO, Reg Richardson AM.
The University awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to Greg Poche and the title of Honorary Fellow to Reg Richardson in recognition of their contribution to the University's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health: Dr Tom Calma AO (Patron of the Poche Centres), Greg Poche AO, Reg Richardson AM.

The University of Sydney today recognised two key of its primary philanthropic donors, presenting Greg Poche AO and Reg Richardson AM with honorary awards during a special ceremony in the Great Hall.

The awards were conferred in a ceremony attended by Mr Poche and Mr Richardson, following citations read by the Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson.

In the citation for Mr Poche, Professor Robinson described him as a visionary leader, who had made a far-sighted commitment to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with his donation of $10 million to allow the establishment of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

"Greg Poche is a visionary leader who has made a farsighted commitment to, and support of, Indigenous Australians," the citation read.

"He acknowledged that an enormous amount of work was needed to provide Indigenous people with a standard of health care and life expectancy which matched that of non-Indigenous Australians. He believed, however, that a specialist University centre would be able to make a lasting impact if it adopted a strategic and co-ordinated approach, which included Aboriginal people and communities in design and delivery of programs.

His approach to understanding and dealing with the health problems of Indigenous communities has been insightful and creative and he conceptualised how the Centre for Indigenous Health would function.

"Greg is a humble man who only agreed to put his name to his donations on the strenuous urging of others who knew that examples of philanthropy such as these would lead to others also contributing. His generosity is truly exceptional and worthy of recognition."

Mr Poche also contributed $50 million to the Melanoma Institute of Australia, now a world-class cancer research and treatment facility.

Reg Richardson is a Sydney businessman who is involved with a number of philanthropic organisations including the Melanoma Institute Australia, of which he has been Chair since 2007, and the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney. He also serves on advisory committees of Indigenous health at the University.

In the citation for Mr Richardson for his award of Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney, Professor Robinson described him as a passionate advocate for philanthropy and promoter of its vital role in innovation, creating new knowledge and pursuing the unknown.

"It is his passion for art that has motivated him to support and mentor many emerging artists, particularly Aboriginal artists. From these beginnings he extended into fundraising for research and treatment into melanoma and the improvement of indigenous health - he has now raised more than $90 million for these causes which are close to his heart.

"Reg lets no opportunity pass to encourage others with the capacity, to contribute. Originally it was Reg who convinced his friend and colleague Greg Poche that going public in his philanthropy would lead to more giving and in his own words, "My argument was it would allow others to follow and create some push."

"Reg is a recognised leader in philanthropy in Australia and we are so proud of his association with our University. For us Reg does more than link donors to great ideas, he actively participates in many of our programs including encouraging and mentoring students and staff in the Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Health Promotion; successfully lobbying government to recognise this qualification for Aboriginal Health Workers; promoting collaboration with our neighbours the South Sydney Rabbitohs and their charity arm, Souths Cares - this partnership alone has resulted in health care checks this week for 1500 kids living in the bush."

During 2013 Mr Richardson, jointly with Mr Poche, has been working to set up new Poche centres for Indigenous health. Along with the Centre at Sydney University and Flinders, a new Centre at the University of Western Australia received $10m last month with other Centres slated for 2014.

About the Poche Centre: The Centre has three primary aims:

• to work with local and community health services to improve Indigenous health in western NSW and the Northern Territory;
• to conduct essential research into critical aspects of Indigenous health;
• to educate medical and health students in matters concerning the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson 02 9351 4630, 0481 004 782, rachel.gleeson@sydney.edu.au