// Social Icons

2022 Harry Harris Orator – Nova Peris OAM

Over the past three decades, barely a year has passed where Nova Peris has not displayed excellence in some area of her life. Certainly, she has seldom stood still, always determined to educate and re-educate, in order to give herself the best possible opportunity to not only develop her own prospects in life, but, equally as importantly, those of her people throughout Australia and the Torres Strait Islands.

Whether in sport, federal politics, or any number of former and current work environments, Nova has remained at the forefront of the conversation for the best part of 30 years. Indeed, she has led the conversation!

Nova was a trailblazer in her sporting pursuits, competing at Olympic level in two sports while juggling the demanding role of being a young mother. Then, post her sporting career, she smashed through another glass ceiling by becoming the first Aboriginal woman elected to Federal Parliament.

Since the mid-1990s, she has spoken regularly on the plights facing Aboriginal people and has visited hundreds of communities throughout Australia to gain as much of an insight as possible into the issues facing people from all walks of life. Utilising the significant platform of Federal Parliament, in particular, Nova has given a voice to thousands of people who otherwise go unheard.

She has undoubtedly made an enormously positive and life-changing impact on young Aboriginal people, not just through her words but also her actions. Her ability to be able to speak equally with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds gives Nova a unique approachability and relatability that sets her apart from many with similar platforms and responsibilities.

Nova is certainly an inspirational and brilliant role model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Nova’s twin achievements of being the first Aboriginal Olympic champion and competing in two different sports at Olympic level, marks her as one of our finest athletes. As of 2018, long after retiring as an athlete, she is still ranked in the Australian top 10 for the 100m, 200m and 400m.

Nova was awarded Young Australian of the Year in January 1997 and has also 5 received the Medal of the Order of Australia. In 1998, Nova was honoured on television program This Is Your Life, then, in June 2000, she received the Australian Sports Medal.

She is acknowledged in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Hall of Fame and has written an autobiography, Nova—My Story.

Nova received official approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to utilise the coveted OLY after her name in any correspondence. She is also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD).

About the Harry Harris Oration

The Harry Harris Oration was established in honour of the Society’s founder, Samuel Henry Harris (1881 – 1936), and is usually, but not necessarily, made by a non-urologist. Harry Harris was born and educated in Sydney and after graduation as Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery in 1906 he spent a year as resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital. Harris then went into general practice in the Sydney suburb of Enmore. In 1914 Harry Harris was appointed Honorary Urologist to the new department of urology at Lewisham Hospital, Sydney.

Harris came to urology via gynaecology and he was the first full-time specialist urologist in Australasia and he was also the first Australasian urologist to achieve an international reputation for his work.

In 1928, he first published results of his suprapubic prostatectomy with complete closure. Harris’ mortality rate for his own operation was 2.8 per cent, the lowest at the time, and for many years afterwards, for any method of open prostatectomy. Harris was a pioneer in the speciality of urology and a vital figure in the events leading to the formation of the Urological Society of Australasia. He published thirty-seven papers on urology and was on the editorial boards of not only the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Surgery but also the British Journal of Surgery. He was a foundation fellow of the RACS, a member of the International Society of Urology and would have been foundation president of the Urological Society of Australasia if he had not died in December 1936. The inaugural meeting of the Society took place the following month.

The inaugural Harry Harris Oration was delivered in 1969 by Professor M Ewing, the then Professor of Surgery of Melbourne, and was titled “A Place in Prosperity”.

Samuel Henry (Harry) Harris

Past Harry Harris Orators include

2019 – Dr Richard Harris OAM, Anaesthetist and 2018 Thai Cave rescue diver
2018 – Prof Peter Doherty AC, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1996, Australian of the Year 1997
2017 – Elizabeth Cosson AM, Deputy Secretary, Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
2016 – Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, Chair AIHW
2015 – Prof Corey Bradshaw, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change
2014 – Prof Ian Frazer AC, co-inventor of HPV vaccine, Australian of the Year 2006
2013 – Moira Kelly AO, Humanitarian
2012 – Warren Mundine AO, Chairman, Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce
2011 – Sir Ray Avery, New Zealander of the Year 2010, scientist, inventor and philanthropist
2010 – Admiral Christopher Barrie AC RANR Chief of the Defence Force 1998-2002