Alumni deaths highlight COVID devastation

Learning of the premature deaths of Flinders University graduates Dr Vishna Rasiah (BMBS ’95), Adi Budi Wicaksono (MGIS ’16) and most recently Joko Purnomo, (MA(IntDev)(Cwk) ’08) from COVID-19 has brought home the devastating impact of the pandemic.

With our alumni exceeding 110,000 graduates located all around the world, there will be many other members of our broad community whose lives have ended prematurely or who have suffered hardship, personally or as a result of the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic. Australia’s success in minimising infections is commendable, but our University community is a global one and our thoughts and best wishes are with all.

Dr Vishna Rasiah studied at Flinders in the undergraduate medical program from 1990 to 1995, and was working in the United Kingdom at the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital when he contracted the disease. The hospital published a heart-felt tribute on its website, noting “Vish was an amazing doctor, leader, colleague and friend passionate about the care of babies and their families. Losing him in such a cruel and unfair way will be too much to bear for many of us, in particular anyone involved in neonatal care, and of course his beautiful wife and daughter.” A tribute was also published in The Advertiser in June.

Flinders University was also advised of the passing of Adi Budi Wicaksono, an Indonesian Australia Awards scholarship graduate (2016) who completed his Master of Geospatial Information Science at Flinders and was working at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesia.

He was recognised by colleagues with a website tribute praising his contributions to the protection of marine resources and his qualities as a leaders – “Pak Adi was known as a supportive leader, humble and friendly person, and a big coffee lover. We will miss our profound conversations while enjoying coffee, which he made himself, before our meetings started. He even provided his team with a coffee maker in their office.  His memorable phrase was ‘come to my office, I’ll make you good coffee’”.

Most recently we have learnt of the death of Mr Joko Purnomo, aged 42, who graduated with a Master of Arts (International Development) in 2008. He was a Lecturer in International Studies at the Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, East Java, Indonesia.

The University’s sincere thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of these three graduates.

We must also stay aware that the local threat of COVID-19 continues, and the virus can easily and rapidly re-ignite in South Australia particularly as restrictions ease. Accordingly, it is essential that we all remain diligent in our hygiene and physical distancing measures – refer to the University’s COVID-19 page and linked external resources.

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