This article was first published in the SSA November 2018 eNews under the title “Well-deserved recognition for Alison Harcourt’s tireless dedication to mathematics and statistics”, written by Damjan Vukcevic & Karen Lamb.
We are delighted to hear that since then Alison has been named Victoria’s 2019 Senior Australian of the Year. This award recognises Australians in Victoria aged at least 65 years who are still actively contributing and achieving in their work; this is certainly true of Alison. To this day she continues to train new generations of mathematicians and statisticians and has been a mentor to many great statisticians who have long-since retired!
The accolades continued for Alison who was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Melbourne. In addition to her dedication to training and mentoring, these awards recognise Alison’s remarkable achievements. The most visible ones include her seminal paper on the “branch and bound” method, her contributions to quantifying the extent of poverty in Australia and her work that led to the introduction of the “double randomisation” method in allocating positions on ballot papers (still in use today). Given that Alison was working at a time when there was much less support for women, this sort of recognition is well overdue.
Finally, we must mention that Alison was the founding secretary of the Victorian Branch of SSA, back in 1964. It is great to see her still attending our branch meetings regularly and supporting the society.
The Australian of the Year Awards are awarded to “leading citizens who are role models for us all”. Alison is definitely one of those. Congratulations Alison!