Not If, When

The Campaign to Create Change

Welcome to Not If, When – the Campaign to Create Change. Launched this year, it is the first comprehensive philanthropic campaign in UQ’s history. As Co-Chairs of the campaign, Professor Ian Frazer AC and Caroline Frazer (Master of Educational Studies ’97) reflect on how vital philanthropy was to the successful research and commercialisation of Professor Frazer’s own work, and how you can do the same by contributing to causes you care about.

Generosity empowers humanity

Work on the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine was a team effort, and one that was helped enormously in its early stages because of a generous donation from a Queensland family. The value of this gift transcends its dollar figure, given what it has helped to achieve and the millions of lives that will continue to be saved.

This is what makes philanthropy extraordinarily powerful: the fact that one act of generosity can help humanity so much more than the raw numbers behind the actual donation.

We have also both benefited personally from the generosity of others, such as when we received financial support that enabled us to study at university.

Ian’s career in medicine began with a philanthropic scholarship to attend the University of Edinburgh, and his career since, including the research that underpinned the vaccine discovery, has been supported by individuals and organisations that saw his potential.

So for us, giving back has been as important as receiving. We are grateful and humbled by the support we have received and now, more than ever, we recognise the need to support the next generation of students and researchers to tackle the problems that we all face.

Everyone has a different passion, but the universal link to solving our society’s problems is the advancement of knowledge – through research, teaching and empowering students to succeed.

This is why we have volunteered our time to lead the first philanthropic campaign for The University of Queensland.

"This is what makes philanthropy extraordinarily powerful: the fact that one act of generosity can help humanity so much more than the raw numbers behind the actual donation."

Because of the partnership between donors and UQ over many decades, in fact right back to the very foundation of the University, wonderful things have been achieved. There is so much more to do, and we want to be bold and proactive in getting it done.

The essence of Not If, When – the Campaign to Create Change is that together, our greatest days lie ahead. In order to live up to that ideal, we are looking for those with vision who want to partner with UQ’s expertise to empower student success, drive discovery and impact, and transform teaching and learning.
We personally have partnered with UQ because we recognise that it is a centre of excellence that has access to the resources, researchers and bright minds to address the issues that are important to our community.

Our personal interests predominantly lie in two areas. The first is in ensuring any student who has the drive and talent to pursue an education is not prevented by either distance or lack of financial means. The second is in driving discovery into healthy ageing and medical research, and this means an increasing focus on the brain as the next frontier for medical breakthroughs.

The brain is the essence of self, it defines us in a way no other organ does, and yet, it is the one major organ that we understand the least about. We still have only the vaguest idea of how the brain forms our personalities and our sense of self.

Hope returns as memories fade: read the story to learn more about UQ's research into dementia.

While we are close to a potential cure for dementia, a terrible disease that has also touched our family, we cannot truly address the range of neurological and mental health concerns that plague our society without understanding how the brain operates on a fundamental level.

This is a unique time in the field of medical research, and approaches like the Not if, when campaign will accelerate discovery and outcomes that will benefit us all.

While that motivates us, you may have a passion to create change in other areas. Whatever your passion may be, we would encourage you to reach out to us to establish how we might be able to help you achieve the change you want to
see in the world.

To learn more about the Not if, when campaign and how you can make a genuine difference, visit

Watch the video to learn more about the Not if, when campaign.

The following stories highlight the goal of Not If, When – the Campaign to Create Change, which is to galvanise the community to help raise significant funds to support three key priorities: empowering student success, transforming teaching and learning, and driving discovery and impact.

Scholarship breaks barriers

Empowering student success

Donor-funded scholarships transform lives. Kate Heliotis’s dream of becoming an engineer depended on it.

While building stick bridges over a creek in her backyard as a child, Heliotis (Bachelor of Engineering (First Class Honours) ’16) realised a career in engineering would be perfect for her. However, a difficult and sometimes violent home life almost destroyed these aspirations. Having since graduated from UQ and secured her dream job in structural engineering, she remembers when the belief and support of others – including school teachers, a pastor, UQ mentors, and donors – were offered when she needed it most.

“As a teenager, there were very dark days, and even my teachers were concerned about my home life. I was conditioned to believe that I wasn’t smart enough, and that education and my personal dreams did not matter,” Heliotis recalled.

The torment of a difficult home life and a strong sense of moral obligation to family duty were barriers to finding self-worth and believing she could ever be happy.

"Being considered for a scholarship changed my life, and now as a graduate, I mentor students and want to give back to those who, like me, don’t know their potential and what they can achieve.”

Kate Heliotis

“When I received my letter of offer to study at UQ, I was blown away but I still had a huge fear of failing,” she said.

Heliotis credits a second-year scholarship, funded by a UQ donor, with changing her life.

It encouraged self-belief and provided financial support to focus on study, research, volunteering, and participating in study tours.

“In my first semester I managed to achieve a Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence and was instilled with this new energy and focus. I was proud of what I could achieve on my own,” Heliotis said.

“Knowing that donor support was there motivated me to excel at my studies. Being considered for a scholarship changed my life, and now as a graduate, I mentor students and want to give back to those who, like me, don’t know their potential and what they can achieve.”

Law students fight for a fairer world

Transforming teaching and learning

Providing free legal services to vulnerable members of the community does not sound like core business for lawyers but that’s how UQ Law students are championing the public good.

Student Zoe Brereton already has formidable experience in international humanitarian law, having supported human rights in Uganda and helped abused women in India, but it was volunteering at a small, suburban Brisbane community legal service that changed her life.

The UQ Pro Bono Centre in the TC Beirne School of Law places students like Brereton with professional lawyers at community legal centres, to assist disadvantaged and marginalised groups such as asylum seekers, people with a disability and vulnerable housing renters.

“I realised I didn’t have to be overseas or at the apex of a big legal career to fight for people who can’t afford to use the legal system,” Brereton said.

“I love working with senior social justice lawyers who’ve dedicated their careers to the public good, easing people’s fear and arguing for their right to justice.”

“I realised I didn’t have to be overseas or at the apex of a big legal career to fight for people who can’t afford to use the legal system."

Zoe Brereton

UQ Pro Bono Centre Director Monica Taylor said it was a win–win as students gain skills, insights and passion for the public good, while providing legal help to those in need.

“Access to justice is difficult for people in need. Our students make a real difference and are highly valued by the community groups with whom we partner,” she said.

“They develop a keen sense of social responsibility, a commitment to ethical legal practice and a commitment to making the legal system more accessible. These are core professional values UQ seeks to instil in its students.”

Brereton is thankful to the Pro Bono Centre and its donors for helping set her on a rewarding career path.

“Senior lawyers and barristers do contribute to social justice work, and in 50 years I want to look back and know I stood up for the rights of others and was part of the solution, not the problem.”

To learn more about the UQ Pro Bono Centre, visit

Scientists in race to save natural wonder

Driving discovery and impact

The power of attraction is an unlikely ally in saving the Great Barrier Reef from the destructive scourge of its fiercest enemy, the crown-of-thorns starfish, and could play a major role in helping to save coral reefs and other marine environments globally.

Husband-and-wife UQ researchers Professor Bernard Degnan and Associate Professor Sandie Degnan of UQ’s Faculty of Science found that the coral-eating starfish gather en masse when mating due to pheromones – a scent the researchers have decoded so the prickly pests can be lured together for their capture.

The crown-of-thorns starfish. Image: © Images

The crown-of-thorns starfish. Image: © Images

It’s a possible solution and an alternative to the current expensive and largely ineffective methods such as diver collection, injections or robotics.

“Now we’ve found the genes the starfish use to communicate, we can begin fabricating environmentally safe baits that trick them into gathering in one place, making it easier to remove reproductively primed animals,” Bernard said. A

However, without new funding it could take another five years to develop and deploy the technology.

“The world needs a big win when it comes to stopping marine destruction by invasive species and we want to go to the next stage by deploying pheromone baits on a massive scale."

Associate Professor Sandie Degnan

At stake are coral reefs and marine environments not only along the Queensland coast but around the world.

“For an already struggling Great Barrier Reef, and indeed any reefs across the Indo-Pacific region, these starfish pose an enormous threat due to the ability of a single female to produce up to 120 million offspring in one spawning season,” Bernard said.

Sandie said the research was a lifeline when so much was at stake.

“The loss of this natural wonder would be devastating and not just in economic terms. I worry our children and grandchildren won’t ever get to experience or work with the reef if we don’t act now. This discovery holds our hope,” she said.

To learn more about the UQ's research into eradicating the crown-of-thorns starfish, visit ChangeMakers.