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Thought leaders awarded for bringing international conferences to Melbourne



15 June 2023


The annual Club Melbourne Ambassador Program Awards recognise those who have helped to promote Melbourne on the world stage by securing future international business events.


Nine ambassadors were awarded last night for their successful efforts in bringing international conferences to Melbourne, attracting more than 16,400 visitors combined and worth over $23 million in economic impact over the next five years.


Associate Professor Neil Hewson, Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO, Professor John Bertram, Professor John McNeil AO, Professor James Whisstock, Professor Tony Costello AM, Associate Professor Geoff Sussman OAM and Professor Grant McArthur were awarded for their support in securing successful bids to host leading medical conferences at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).


Professor Hans Westerbeek was awarded the Club Melbourne Award for Excellence, for his efforts in driving e-sports events across Victoria.


The awards were held at Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters which celebrate a menu showcasing Victorian food and wine and is operated by acclaimed restauranteur Chef Alejandro Saravia, who joined the Club Melbourne Ambassador Program earlier this year.


Club Melbourne was honoured to partner with leading First Nations suppliers in designing this event, including Alchemy Orange, Mabu Mabu, and Djirri Djirri Cultural Services.


Club Melbourne Ambassadors have worked with Victoria's lead agency for acquiring and delivering business events, Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) to secure six events for the state this year.


Since the program was established in 2005, Club Melbourne Ambassadors, together with MCB, have been central to attracting more than 160 events to Melbourne. These events have brought tens of thousands of visitors to the city with a combined benefit of more than $1 billion to Victoria’s economy.


The Club Melbourne program includes over 80 Ambassadors who are business and community leaders in a range of disciplines including science, medicine, agriculture and technology.


Club Melbourne is owned and led by MCEC with support and collaboration from MCB and the Victorian State Government.


Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos


“Victoria’s business events sector is competitive on the global stage, boosting accommodation bookings and spending in hospitality venues, and supporting jobs right across our visitor economy.”


“I would like to congratulate all winners for their ongoing efforts in securing a strong pipeline of the best international business events for Victoria.”


Quotes attributable to MCEC Chief Executive Natalie O’Brien AM


“The Club Melbourne Awards are an important opportunity to celebrate and thank our ambassadors for their ongoing efforts in bringing world-leading events to Melbourne and reinforcing the city’s reputation for research, business excellence and extraordinary events.”


“The Club Melbourne program has attracted thousands of thought leaders from across the globe to MCEC, to meet, discuss and respond to the biggest challenges of our times, leaving a lasting legacy for the community.”


Quotes attributable to MCB Chief Executive Julia Swanson


“Through MCB’s role in identifying and managing the international bid process, we are proud of the many Ambassadors we’ve worked with, who are integral to winning business events for Melbourne.”


“Our Team Melbourne approach is a genuine, collaborative effort between MCB, MCEC, State and Local Governments, strengthened by the intellectual capacity of our world-renowned Ambassadors.


"Our strong partnership showcases exactly why Melbourne is a leading global destination for business events.


“Thank you to all the Ambassadors for their significant contribution and dedication to securing business events for Melbourne.”


The Award winners are:

  • Associate Professor Neil Hewson – 2027 General Session of the International Association for Dental Research

  • Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO – 2027 General Session of the International Association for Dental Research

  • Professor John Bertram – 2026 Congress of International Federation of Associations of Anatomists

  • Professor John McNeil AO – 2024 World Health Summit Regional Meeting

  • Professor James Whisstock – 2024 World Health Summit Regional Meeting

  • Professor Tony Costello AM – 2023 Society of Robotic Surgery Annual Meeting

  • Associate Professor Geoff Sussman OAM –Asia Pacific Diabetic Limb Problems Meeting

  • Professor Grant McArthur – 2023 VCCC Alliance Conference, 2024 World Indigenous Cancer Conference

  • Professor Hans Westerbeek - Club Melbourne Award for Excellence for his work in driving new event opportunities in the e-sports sector

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