National Excellence Awards Winners

National Excellence Awards Winners 2023

Social Work Student of the Year Award

Morgan Shepherd

Morgan Shepherd (they/them) is a second year Masters of Social Work student studying at the Australian Catholic University on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Land in Canberra. They are passionate about working with marginalised groups and advocating for social change. Morgan also works in child and adolescent mental health and in disability support, areas they are deeply invested in.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Social Worker of the Year Award

Rowena Lawrie

Rowena is a proud social worker and Director of Yamurrah, an organisation that leads a professionally diverse Collective of First Nations Clinicians and trauma specialists. Rowena is a PhD candidate who has been a clinical social worker for more than 25 years. She has a background in law and justice, with post graduate studies in Neuroscience and a strong policy and research background.

Social Work Researcher of the Year Award

Dr. Gerard Jefferies

Dr. Jefferies is a social work early career researcher/lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He has 12 years of field education experience and is known for his excellence, innovation, and dedication to preparing social work students for professional practice. His research focuses on advancing social work education with simulation to meet the new demands in the post COVID era and to strengthen practice skills for students entering the field.

Social Worker of the Year Award

Karen Green
Karen Green

Karen Green (NQLD Director, Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling) has delivered specialist services in the Dept of Veterans Affairs & Dept of Defence for over 25 years. Her expertise & commitment to the profession resulted in her being the recipient of three prestigious international scholarships. She is a strong advocate for recognition of Military Social Work (MilSW) as a specialist field of practice. Karen has been a MilSW practitioner-consultant with Fordham University(NYC); a founding member of International MilSW Consortium; past member of the AASW National Advisory Panel on veteran issues; and is co-editor/author of an 2023 international book, ‘Military Social Work Around the Globe’.