Honorary awards

Greg Poche AO

The honorary degree of Doctor of Letters was conferred upon Greg Poche AO at the Faculty of Medicine graduation ceremony at 11.30am on 13 December 2013 ... more.

The Vice-Chancellor and Greg Poche

The Vice-Chancellor conferring the honorary degree upon Mr Poche, photo, University of Sydney.

Mr and Mrs Poche

Mr and Mrs Poche, photo, University of Sydney.

Citation

Deputy Chancellor, I have the honour to present Greg Poche for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).
Greg Poche was born in Marrickville, leaving school after completing his Intermediate Certificate.

Greg took a desk job with the NSW Railways before resigning to become a builder's labourer; in the evenings he would head to Sydney Technical College where he finished his Leaving Certificate.

When he joined the sales team of a pharmaceuticals company, the evening studies continued - first in Western Australia, where he began a degree in business at the Institute of Technology, Perth which he completed at the Institute of Technology, Sydney when a promotion brought him back to his home city.

Greg was still studying part-time for his two diplomas in business management and operations management in 1972 when he set up the company which would be his focus for the next 30 years.
By the time he came to sell the company 30 years later, Star Track Express had a 15 per cent share of the market. On any given day it employed the equivalent of 2500 full-time staff across Australia.

When it came to selling Star Track Express invitations were sent out to a select group of companies which were not in competition with the business but were involved in the general transport and distribution sphere. Among them were Qantas and Australia Post, and in December 2003 both companies put in a joint bid that provided Poche with the guarantees of protection for his workforce and his customers that he had been looking for.

During this period, Greg accumulated evidence of the existence of a transport cartel, members of which would not tender for work against each other. They particularly targeted Star Track. He presented this evidence to the Trade Practices Commission who undertook a lengthy enquiry, resulting in TNT and Mayne Nickless being fined $ 14 million. Commissioner Alan Fels has written that this was the coming of age of the Trade Practices Act in Australia.

Greg Poche considered the breaking of the transport cartel his greatest achievement as it benefited millions of Australians
Greg, with his wife Kay, then turned his attention to philanthropy. In his own words he “was looking for causes which needed investment”. As a businessman, his view was that “they had to have very sound structures, people and skills and only lacked financial resources and infrastructure.” He identified two areas of need: Indigenous Health and Melanoma and proceeded to apply his business acumen to establishing programs that would both support immediate need and change the face of future treatment and early intervention.

In 2008 Greg Poche donated $10 million to help establish a groundbreaking Centre for Indigenous Health at the Sydney Medical School. The Poche Centre was established to build excellence in research, clinical training and health service delivery to improve the health of Indigenous Australians. Greg’s gift can and will shape Aboriginal health policy in Australia.

Professor Marie Bashir, former Chancellor of the University of Sydney and Governor of NSW, has many years of experience in indigenous health and maintains a keen professional interest. She describes Greg Poche as "a visionary philanthropist who appreciates the dire need for health education among our indigenous population".

In 2005, Greg gave $40 million to kickstart the Melanoma Institute of Australia, a world-class cancer research and treatment facility born out of the existing Sydney Melanoma Unit.
Since the establishment of these two Centres, a further two with a focus on Indigenous health have been established through donations from Greg, in Alice Springs and Adelaide (hosted by Flinders University). Just two weeks ago he donated another $10 million to the University of Western Australia for a similar program in Western Australia. There is also a plan to set up two more, in Queensland and Victoria.

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.

Deputy Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting Greg Poche for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa), and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.