Harriet with Burgies in yellow banner2

Remembering Harriet Nixon

'I am very attracted by the very fine reputation Burgmann has, providing an outstanding opportunity to flourish in a positive learning environment. (...) I have grown up with an important sense of community service, where giving to others establishes a stronger community. I would like to continue giving to people and communities through university and I feel that Burgmann has an environment where this goal can be achieved.'
Harriet Nixon, 2014 Burgmann College application

Harriet Nixon grew up on small rural cattle fattening property with her parents Ralph and Fiona Nixon (nee Langley) and younger sister Alicia outside Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands of NSW. With a long history on the land originally from the Riverina in NSW, service is a hallmark of the Nixon family. The family immerse themselves in their communities; building community through support and service to others, their family ethos recognises that service to others forms the foundation of a strong community.

Harriet commenced her education at Moss Vale Primary School, which provided a nurturing foundation prior to beginning her secondary education at Oxley College. In Year 9 Harriet attended Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus and continued her education at Geelong Grammar completing Year 12 (International Baccalaureate) in 2013.

'Harriet arrived in kindergarten with the broadest of smiles, sunniest disposition, sparkling eyes, an inherent curiosity and love of learning. She was a breath of fresh air through her classroom. Her teacher ensured that Harriet unfolded gently by providing a rich and stimulating curriculum that took advantage of the excitement and challenge of life and made for fun and laughter. She enjoyed success and grew in self-esteem and confidence. She had affection and empathy for her classmates and was someone who was compassionate, perceptive and generosity of spirit. Those attributes enabled her to contribute significantly to the quality of life of her friends and colleagues.' Dennis Mudd OAM, former Principal Moss Vale Primary School

'Harriet Nixon was an exceptional person. She radiated light with her warmth, kindness, passion and determination to make a difference to others. Harriet drew people to her with a selfless vision to change the world. A natural leader taken from us all far too soon.' Emma Calver, Head of Community Relations and Enrolments, Oxley College

At an early age, Harriet learnt the Australian National Anthem to sing while the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games medallists were being presented with their ceremonial bouquets. In kindergarten Harriet delighted in singing the anthem to the entire Moss Vale Primary School assembly. One Sunday morning, Harriet at age 7 rang Ian McNamara (Macca) on the long-running Australian All Over program to sing the anthem. Macca was so taken by Harriet he invited her to open his Drought Relief Concert in Sydney 2002. Standing in a pretty pink dress Harriet sang two verses beautifully, and it was a marvellous moment when she received a standing ovation. Macca and Harriet remained in close contact over many years. With Macca, Harriet shared her pride in significant charity events on air, supporting both Second Bite and Civic2Surf /batyr. When Macca heard of Harriet’s tragic loss of life he paid a moving tribute to Harriet on his program.

Harriet received the Osmond Neville Hunter Mackay Smyth 2010 Timbertop Prize for making 'the greatest all-round contribution to life at Timbertop '. The Timbertop community found Harriet’s integrity, grace, positivity and zest for life invigorating and infectious. At Timbertop she was known as an outstanding student, intuitive leader, musician, loyal friend, compassionate hiker and determined runner taking care of others. Harriet reflected: 'Timbertop has taught me so much about myself, given me independence and the chance to make my own decisions. As a person I feel I have grown, developed, matured and built up my resilience.' In 2017, The Timbertop Prize was renamed in Harriet’s honour. The first recipient was Harriet Furphy from rural Victoria who is also a Burgmann College alumna.

'I was fortunate to have followed in Harriet’s footsteps at GGS and at Burgmann College. Harriet’s memory reminds me every day to take advantage of every opportunity at Burgmann and beyond.' Harriet Furphy, Geelong Grammar School and Burgmann College

'She always made me feel like I was surrounded by family during the tough times.'Matilda Maynard, friend, Geelong Grammar School

'She always set such a high standard of humility, hard work, kindness and inclusiveness.' Ane McBain, friend, Geelong Grammar School

While a student at Oxley College and then at Timbertop and Geelong Grammar, Harriet completed her Gold Duke of Edinburgh (Duke of Ed) International Award. The Duke of Ed program empowers young people to get ahead in the world by building important life skills, gaining employment and accessing further education. Upon completing her Gold Award, Harriet stated: "I did not do it for the glory but for the reward of helping others. It has been a life-changing experience which has provided a unique opportunity and pleasure for me to connect with very special people at Oxley College, Timbertop, and Geelong Grammar including many others around Australia and parts of the world who have empowered me to believe in myself. It provided great opportunities to try new things". The Duke of Ed Program published this tribute to Harriet.

Harriet took a gap year in 2014 working on a horse property, coaching sport and in hospitality, prior to embarking on a working holiday through Europe. She proudly joined the Burgmann College community in February 2015 commencing a Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Honours) at The Australian National University (ANU).

In her first year, Harriet joined the Women’s Hockey team, represented the ANU at Uni games in Wagga Wagga, and was an active participant in Civic2Surf, founded at ANU, a community organisation which each year supports a passionate group of ANU students to run in relay-format 340kms from ANU, via Bong Bong Race Course, to Bondi Beach, Sydney. Harriet’s passion for making a difference in the lives of others and the world distinguished her, as did her boundless optimism, motivation and work ethic. Harriet embraced the opportunity to live within – and therefore contribute to – the Burgmann community with inclusivity, positivity, determination and kindness.

'Harriet was the first person at Burgmann who truly welcomed me with her friendship when I was so nervous about beginning mid-year. I will always treasure the times we spent chatting past her bedtime of 9.30 in the Dining Hall, with her sporting incredible fashion in trackies and RMs.' Burgmann alumna, Gabby Lim (2015-2017)

Alongside her Arts/Law studies and involvement in the Burgmann community, Harriet worked in the office of Minister and Senator Hon Fiona Nash. Senator Nash published a moving tribute to Harriet in the National Leader magazine, Autumn 2017. Senator Nash described Harriet as 'highly intelligent, wise and accomplished beyond her years,' adding 'she was humble, elegant and gorgeous. But most of all, she was modest.' Senator Nash presented a condolence motion in the Australian Parliament on 15 February 2017. Following this, During Private Members’ Statements on 23 May 2017, The Hon Ms Katrina Hodgkinson (Cootamundra) presented a Tribute to Harriet (see page 56) in the NSW Parliament.

'With her passion, drive and kind heart, Harriet had an incredible life before her, but what she packed in to 21 years is more than most people do in their lifetime. She was truly extraordinary. Harriet had this amazing ability to instil in people incredible hope for the future of the nation. She embodied everything that was good with optimism and hope. She made the most of every day. Her charity work was incredible. She gave so much to those around her.' Former Senator Hon. Fiona Nash, Minister for Rural Health and Regional Development, now Australia's Regional Education Commissioner and Board Member of the Australian Universities Accord.

Harriet was passionate about youth mental health and was involved in weekly mental health walks known as Fluro Fridays. In 2016 Harriet was the proud President of Civic 2 Surf, promoting positive conversations about mental ill health and raised funds for Batyr. In 2017, Batyr renamed their annual unsung hero award in Harriet’s memory; the Harriet Nixon Unsung Hero Award.

Tribute from Seb Robertson Founder and Chair of Batyr 2017 (Alumnus of John XXIII College): 'The Batyr unsung hero award is for a supporter or volunteer who has gone above and beyond for our cause. Harriet was the epitome of this. Her heart was full of goodness, grace and compassion. Harriet wholeheartedly believed in Batyr and was passionately involved, not for the glory or reward but for the satisfaction of knowing she was improving the lives of others. In renaming the unsung hero award in Harriet’s honour we recognise her generosity of spirit and contribution to the Batyr family. We acknowledge her selfless support for our cause, and we now create an ongoing connection to the inspirational example she offers us.'

Burgmann College Principal Alex McKenzie remembers Harriet as 'always ready for a debate (especially over politics)' and that she “never held back in sharing her thoughts and perspectives.' He describes 'Harriet is remembered for how respectfully and graciously she was able to share her passions and views, and to listen to and consider the perspectives of others. It is a testament to her warmth, kindness and commitment to making a difference that Harriet is remembered so consistently by alumni and staff of Burgmann for her community values, optimism and energy, and for her genuine humility.'

Burgmann College residents produce a yearbook, known as Omphalos. The 2016 Omphalos Committee included the following dedication to Harriet in the 2016 Omphalos.

Dedication to Harriet Nixon, Omphalos 2016
Dedication to Harriet Nixon, Omphalos 2016

Establishing a scholarship in Harriet's name is a truly fitting tribute to her legacy of generosity and support. To have known Harriet was to be graced with her warmth, kindness, and the unmistakable presence she brought into every room.

'Harriet encouraged me to spend my 2018 gap year working on a remote cattle station in NT. I loved my six years spent in the Northern Territory gaining extraordinary practical skills and life changing experiences, rising to the position as head stockwoman in 2023. I have returned following these years and am now studying Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham College. I recognise the profound importance of education to further my passion and career in Agriculture. How proud Harriet would be having a scholarship in her name providing the opportunity for students from rural Australia where our hearts lie to attend Burgmann College. Thank you.' Liss Nixon, cherished sister of Harriet. 'I am so proud to call you my sister.'

Burgmann College extends our heartfelt gratitude to Fiona, Ralph and Alicia Nixon for their support, working with pride and united with our community this year towards establishing The Harriet Nixon Scholarship.

We invite our community to support the Harriet Nixon Scholarship Appeal. For more information or to pledge your support towards establishing of The Harriet Nixon Scholarship, please contact Director of Advancement, Amelia Zaraftis via email amelia.zaraftis@burgmann.anu.edu.au or by telephone 02 6125 6890.

Friendship Garden, Burgmann College
Friendship Garden established by Fiona Nixon for the Burgmann College community

Pictured in banner photo, from left to right: Annie Sindel, Harriet Nixon, and Chanel Irvine.

Harriet Nixon, 2016 Valete Dinner
Harriet Nixon Valete 2016

Harriet and Burgmann residents picnicking by the lake
Picnic by the lake with Burgmann friends

Harriet and Alicia at Burgmann College

Fiona, Ralph, Harriet and Alicia Nixon at Burgmann College

Harriet in the office of Senator Fiona Nash

Civic2Surf Committee 2016
Civic2Surf Committee 2016

Harriet and Ralph Nixon at Family Weekend, Burgmann College
Harriet and Ralph Nixon at Family Weekend

Alicia Nixon at Willeroo Station
Alicia Nixon at Willeroo Station, Katherine NT

The Nixon Family on Kangaroo Island
The Nixon Family on Kangaroo Island

Harriet with flowers
Harriet at the Hon Warren Truss AC Farewell