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Bondies awarded in 2016 Queen's Birthday Honours

Bond University Professor, Dr Vicki Bitsika, and Board of Trustee Member and Adjunct Associate Professor, Dr Peter Charles Heiner, have been made Members (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Professor Bitsika, a Clinical Psychologist who has specialised in ASD since 1986, received the honour for significant service to tertiary education in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder, as an academic and as a supporter of people with disabilities.

She has served as Professor of Behaviour Management and Counselling and Director of the Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorder (CASD) at Bond University’s Faculty of Society and Design since 2010.

In July 2010 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship which saw her travel to the UK and US to investigate world best practice in specialised intervention technologies for children and adolescents with an ASD. These learnings were foundational in the setup of the CASD’s research program.

Professor Bitsika is a major supporter of Autism Gold Coast and joint co-ordinator of World Autism Awareness Day on the Gold Coast.

Professor Bitsika said she felt proud and humbled to receive the award.

“I am simply following my passion and doing what I love, and was shocked to receive the award,” she said.

“Through the CASD, we’ve worked with over 300 families and our research aims to assist them to understand their children and educate teachers and schools about the autism spectrum.

“I hope this honour will cause the families I work with to be more formally recognised, and create a platform to have more in-depth conversations about autistic children.”

Professor Bitsika was an adviser to the Department of Education and Training Queensland for the More Support for Students with Disabilities National Partnership Agreement from 2012-2014 and the lead researcher for Regional Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder Pedagogy, 2012-2014.

Prior to joining Bond University, she spent 12 years as Lecturer, Special Education and Psychology Programs, at Monash University.

She has been a member of the Australian Psychological Society since 1990 and is also a member of the College of Counselling and the College of Clinical Psychology.

Professor Raoul Mortley, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Bond University’s Faculty of Society & Design, said Professor Bitsika had made an extraordinary contribution to scholarly research in the area of challenges faced by autistic children, particularly in the educational environment.

“She is also a powerful force in a practical and applied sense for those who experience some disability: her great contribution has been to bring to bear top-level research and knowledge on the day-to-day handling of those who find themselves on the autism spectrum, and who have to manage society as it is structured and as it is given to them."

Dr Peter Charles Heiner was awarded an AM for significant service to medicine as an ophthalmologist, to medical education and eye health research and to professional organisations.

The co-founder of The Eye Centre (1991), which later became the Vision Eye Institute, Dr Heiner is Adjunct Associate Professor at Bond University’s School of Health Sciences & Medicine and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.

He helped establish the Bond School of Medicine in 2005 and was involved in the establishment of the Clem Jones Research Centre for Stem Cells and Tissue Regenerative Therapies, 2010-2014.

A founding member of the Australasian Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (1995), he has also worked for the Aboriginal Eye Program, Wuchopperen Health Service Outreach Clinic, from 2002 to 2007. This involved him visiting the Wujal Wujal, Cooktown and Hopevale communities, providing a remote opthamological service for seven years.

He has served as chairman, treasurer and secretary of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Queensland Branch and is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists

Bond University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford said he was very pleased to learn of the awards.

“These Honours are reserved for the very few who have achieved much, given back and continue to make an outstanding contribution to our society,” he said.

“I was absolutely delighted and thrilled to learn of the recognition bestowed upon Vicki and Peter.  They are deserving recipients.”

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