Carrillo Gantner AC and Ziyin Wang Gantner
recognised for building cultural exchange
between Australia and Asia at Asialink’s
‘Weary’ Dunlop Asia Medal Gala Dinner

Cultural leaders and philanthropists Carrillo Gantner and Ziyin Wang Gantner were jointly awarded the 2019 and 2020 Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Asia Medals on February 5, 2021 by Asialink, Australia’s leading centre for creative engagement with Asia.

The gala dinner, which also saw Victorian Governor The Hon. Linda Dessau AC deliver the prestigious annual Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Asia Lecture, focused on building ties and deepening cultural relationships and networks between Australia and Asia. The Governor emphasised the enduring power of personal, cultural, and business relationships and their importance in helping Australia navigate its place in the world and with our neighbours in Asia.

Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC, delivers
the prestigious Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Asia Lecture.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne,
Professor Duncan Maskell gives his opening remarks.

The Dunlop Asia Medal is awarded to Australians who have an outstanding record of achievement in improving Australia-Asia relations and enhancing the quality of life in the region. It is awarded in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Ernest Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, AC, CMG, OBE (1907-1993) – the famed Australian war hero and surgeon, remembered for his generosity and his leadership in advancing Australia-Asia relations.

Dr Lois Peeler AM delivers a powerful Welcome to Country.

Master of Ceremonies Dr David Sequiera speaks to the crowd.

Gala Dinner

Featuring remarks from University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, commending Asialink’s long history of strengthening Australia relationship with Asia; a deeply moving Welcome to Country from academic and leading Indigenous advocate, Dr Lois Peeler AM; words from the ineffable Master of Ceremonies Dr David Sequiera, a leading Indian-Australian academic and artist from the Victoria College of the Arts; a poignant collaborative piece from Peter Knight of the Australian Art Orchestra a Mindy Meng Wang; beautiful words from prominent Malaysian-born philanthropist Jason Yeap OAM, who delivered the Medal Citation to Carrillo and Ziyin; and a tribute from Diana Dunlop to her Grandfather, ‘Weary’ Dunlop, as she spoke about his legacy and the Asialink Leaders Program, the Dunlop Fellowships, as well as the upcoming launch of the Asialink Young Ambassador’s program.

Mindy Meng Wang and Peter Knight of the Australian Art Orchestra perform a poignant collaborative piece.

The evening also featured a rousing performance from The Merindas – an Indigenous Australian girl group currently engaged in Asialink Arts and Monash University’s sonicbridge cultural exchange program, alongside Chinese electronic artist Shii.

Recipients

Husband and wife Carrillo Gantner AC and Ziyin Wang Gantner were honoured for their dedication to strengthening ties between Australia and Asia, and particularly their leadership in the fields of culture and performing arts.

As a performer, theatre entrepreneur, arts administrator, and businessman, Carrillo has made a unique contribution to building networks and understanding across physical and cultural borders, opening windows to Australian and Asian audiences on unseen aspects of each other’s societies.

Over the course of several decades traveling and working between Australia and Asia, Carrillo, as chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund, has combined his background in the arts and philanthropy with a practical grasp on what it takes to forge productive relationships and get things done.

In the late 1980s, he proposed to the Myer Foundation Board the establishment of an organisation dedicated to advancing understanding and engagement with Asia. The result was the founding of Asialink as Australia’s leading centre for Asian engagement. He subsequently served as Chairman of Asialink between 1992 and 2006.

Malaysian-born lawyer, developer, and philanthropist Jason Yeap OAM provides a beautiful citation for Carrillo and Ziyin.

Diana Dunlop, granddaughter of ‘Weary’ Dunlop, speaks about her grandfather’s legacy and the upcoming launch of the Asialink Young Ambassadors Program.

But nowhere has his influence been more profound than on Australia-China relations. Following his early travel to China in 1977, he was appointed as Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Beijing from 1985-87.He has since been the driving force behind dozens of cultural exchanges between Australia and China, particularly in the performing arts.

As an arts administrator, Carrillo has left a powerful mark: He chaired the Australia Council’s Performing Arts Board from 1990 to 1993; chaired the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 1994 to 2000; led the Victorian Arts Centre Trust as president from 2000 to
2009; and was President of Melbourne International Arts Festival from 2010 to 2014. In 2017, he was the primary initiator of the new Asian Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA) in Melbourne.

Ziyin Wang Gantner accepts the Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Asia Medal and reflects on her identity as a Chinese-Australian.

He has been awarded Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, by both the University of Western Sydney and the University of NSW. In recognition of his work on China, he was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University.

In 2019, he was appointed Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the community through professional involvement in, and philanthropic support for, the performing and visual arts, and to Australia-Asia cultural exchange. In her own right, Ziyin Wang Gantner has proven herself a powerhouse in Australian and Chinese film, television, and theatre production.

Coming from a background of deep deprivation— her family suffering greatly through the Cultural Revolution—Ziyin’s deep determination in the face of adversity led her to pursue her dream, receiving an education at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. She graduated in 1982 with a BA in film direction, before emigrating to Australia in 1985 to begin post-graduate studies at Swinburne Film and Television School, the first international student accepted into her program.

She has dedicated her career to enriching both Australian and Chinese cultural scenes, building deeper understanding between nations, and creating meaningful art for the screen and theatre.

New Asialink Council Chair Mr. Peter Varghese AO said of this year’s recipients, “Engagement with Asia needs to be so much more than the traditional pillars of security and commerce. It must also embrace the arts and the imagination. In Carrillo and Ziyin, Asialink honours two people who have made understanding Asia a lifelong passion. Weary Dunlop would have approved.”

Carrillo Gantner AC delivers his acceptance speech.

Indigenous Australian pop group The Merindas give a rousing performance to a room of new fans.

Past winners

Carrillo and Ziyin join an eminent group of past winners of the Dunlop Asia Medal including joint award recipients The Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC and Mrs. Margaret Whitlam AO (2002), Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC (2015), Professor Ross Garnaut AO (2010), Sister Mary Theodore (2006), and Chancellor of the University of Queensland and new Asialink Chairman Mr. Peter Varghese AO (2019).