During 2013, the WDA Australasian Section executive committee established a new award, to honour a long standing WDA-A member who has made an outstanding contribution to our Section. The award is named the Dave Spratt Award (fondly referred to as “The Spratty Award”) in recognition of one of the founding members of our Section, Dave Spratt. It’s anticipated that this award will only be presented occasionally, and will be reserved to show appreciation for exceptional members who have made a long term commitment to our Section.
It will come as no surprise that the first recipient of the Award was none other than Dave Spratt himself.
On the final morning of the Grampians conference (Oct 2013), Spratty was taken by surprise as conference proceedings were hijacked and the whole WDA-A executive committee, accompanied by Ian Beveridge and David Jessup, announced and presented this new award to him. Ian Beveridge gave a short talk about Spratt’s career and contribution to the WDA-A – some of his words are captured below.
It was decided to make the award perpetual and at most annual. The award consists of a plaque mounted on a board of red cedar, Toona ciliata.
Recipient of the 2020 Dave Spratt "Spratty" Award
In 2020, the “Spratty” recipient was Dr Janeen Samuel.
Janeen’s professional contribution to wildlife health started as a veterinary graduate of University of Queensland, where she subsequently undertook a PhD focused on kangaroos. She is a veterinary pathologist and has worked across a range of topics related to wildlife health, including through her research and diagnostics on Newcastle Disease. Originally from Adelaide, she moved back to western Victoria and has been based in Hamilton for many years.
Janeen’s involvement in WDA Australasia reaches back to the Section’s earliest days. She was there at the Section’s first scientific meeting, in Canberra in January 1975, along with Dave Spratt. She was at the first WDA Australasia conference in Tasmania, at Mole Creek in 1980, and it was here that she first joined the WDA Australasia committee. She remained on the committee through 1981, when the international WDA held its conference in Australia, the first outside of North America, and continued to remain active on the WDA-A committee for a number of years. 1984 was a big year for WDA Australasia, with the first of two conferences held at Kinchega, in remote western NSW, bringing Shirley Doldisson and her crew to become caterers and part of WDA-A family for decades to come. It was a conference of typical character, and Dave Schultz’s 40th birthday provided the opportunity for Janeen to make a special contribution to Schultz’s birthday – after his ongoing discussions about birds and especially ‘tits’ she donated her bra as part of the gift ‘tits in a nest’. In 1986, Janeen and her husband Ken organised the WDA Australasia conference at Mount Tamborine, at which she arranged luxury outdoor showers constructed with tarps and buckets… Twenty years later, possibly reflective of the time taken to recover from organising a WDA Australasian conference, she took the plunge again and organised our 2006 conference at Naracoorte, near the famous caves. This was a relaxing and smaller event, returning to our roots after the previous year’s international conference shenanigans in Cairns. Throughout these years, Janeen’s husband Ken Grimes was an equally integral part of WDA Australasian meetings. A geologist, he gave some fascinating conference presentations, including in the Grampians in 2013, and guided tours covering the local geology of the conference site.
In addition to her contribution to wildlife health, Janeen is an award-winning writer. She has had commendations for a number of her unpublished stories. These include the Bush Poetry John O'Brien Poetry and Prose competition, 2004 (Highly Commended for 'A Visit from the Duchess'), the FAW Angelo B. Natoli Short Story Award, 2004 (Commended for 'Another's shoes'), the Body in Bourke Street writing competition run by ABC Ballarat in conjunction with the Ballarat Writing Council, 2005 (runner-up with 'Marbellous'), the Trudy Graham Literary Awards 2006 (Highly Commended for 'Intertidal'), the FAW Mary Grant Bruce Award Short Story Award for Children's Literature, 2006 (Highly Commended for her manuscript story for readers aged 10 - 15 years, 'Four on the Fence').
Janeen, her husband Ken, and a colourful group of other early members played a key role in creating the cheerful, collegiate and laid back atmosphere of WDA Australasia. With typical humility, she engaged in both the science and socialising at conferences with anyone, regardless of career status. It could be hard sometimes to appreciate just how much experience and expertise Janeen had as she would sit with you as a student and make conversation over breakfast or morning tea, until she would share her insight in subsequent scientific discussions. This is the rare culture of WDA Australasia. It has the effect of fostering the next generation of wildlife health scientists, opening doors and building confidence. It creates an environment where ideas are shared openly, and where everyone is able to contribute to the debate, regardless of their standing. This culture didn’t happen by accident, and members including Janeen helped create it over their many years in the Section.
This award is a fitting recognition of our gratitude to Janeen for her long-standing contribution to WDA Australasia. This award to Janeen is also an opportunity to remember and recognise the contribution of her husband Ken to WDA Australasia.