Home & Away

Home & Away

Last Updated: 25 Jun 2014
Jai Chouhan

West Aussies making waves in state and overseas.

Bruce Robinson

Poised on the cutting edge of science, world-renowned researcher Professor Bruce Robinson is hoping to 'crack the code' of asbestos cancer this year. "Incredibly exciting things are happening with our medical research," he says. "We are hoping to identify the exact mutations that cause the cancer, and from that make vaccines against these mutations to 'force' the immune system to attack the cancer, in the same way that it attacks viruses."

It wouldn't be the first medical breakthrough for the UWA researcher. The innovative program Bruce developed to identify new treatments and better early detection tests for fatal asbestos cancers has led to the world's first blood test for mesothelioma (a type of an asbestos cancer) and eight world-first clinical trials. He's taken his commitment to the cause beyond the lab too, volunteering care to rural Indonesian medical centres for many years. Largely acknowledged as a world leader in his field, Bruce's research will affect millions of people.

Bruce is also helping WA dads to be better fathers through his not-for-profit venture The Fathering Project. The initiative aims to connect children to their dads through fathers' groups, seminars, events and distribution of a fathering book penned by Bruce. This year, he also hopes to further develop programs for FIFO dads and Aboriginal father figures. "I want every child in Australia to have the chance to have a strong and appropriate father figure," he says.

For his medical research and work with The Fathering Project, Bruce won the 2013-14 accolades for the Western Australian of the Year and WA's Australian of the Year. "This year I want to make them mean something," he says of the awards. "I'm absolutely not interested in the fame part of it – I deal with people who live and die, and it seems pretty hollow in light of that. I want to use it to make a difference."

Isla Fisher

Perth-born actress Isla Fisher is best known for her comic timing, but a star turn in horror film Visions may just make her a scream queen.

She stars as a pregnant woman who moves to a vineyard with her husband, where she starts to see horrifying visions. The movie, directed by Saw veteran Kevin Greutert and which also stars Eva Longoria and Jim Parsons, is tipped to be the horror film of the year.

It's also just been announced that Isla has been cast in a new Aussie drama called The Dressmaker alongside Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Liam Hemsworth. The film, based on the Rosalie Ham novel of the same name, is set in the 1950s and follows a woman, played by Winslet, who returns to her rural Australian homeland after years abroad, having left, initially, after being accused of murder as a child. Isla will play a woman who is transformed by Winslet's character.

The former Methodist Ladies College student is on a career high right now. Last
year, she played the role of Myrtle Wilson in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and starred in Now You See Me, a glittery special effects-packed hit about a group of magicians. She also starred alongside Mos Def and Jennifer Aniston in Life of Crime – a well-received film based on Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch – which garnered her praise for a fearless, feisty performance; and guest starred in the fourth season of Arrested Development.

Zhenya Tsvetnenko

Millionaire Perth-based technology entrepreneur Zhenya Tsvetnenko is taking a gamble with bitcoins for his latest business venture. Created by a merger with investment company Macro Energy, the 34-year-old's new enterprise DigitalBTC became Australia's first bitcoin business when it was listed on the ASX this March. Tsvetnenko hopes it will go on to become one of the world's premier bitcoin providers. Bitcoin is commonly touted as the world's first 'global' currency, allowing electronic payments between two users anywhere in the world.

"As the bitcoin system matures beyond its initial niche and begins to realise its true disruptive potential, sophisticated service firms will be increasingly required to facilitate the system," he told The West Australian. "We believe that sophisticated intermediaries such as DigitalBTC can derive significant profit in supporting this emerging growth phase of bitcoin, as it takes its place as a true worldwide currency."

The bitcoin market has been marked by volatility since the digital currency emerged in 2009. Earlier this year, its reputation took
a nosedive when Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt Gox lost nearly 850,000 coins (worth nearly $480 million) because of a bug in their software that allowed hackers to steal them.
"The Mt. Gox collapse taught everyone an important lesson," Zhenya told The Australian. "You really have to do your homework and due diligence on exchanges."

Zhenya is no stranger to ambitious digital ventures: he made his millions (BRW's 2013 Young Rich List valued him at $60m) as a pioneer of SMS gateway technology, which enables businesses to send out marketing messages to thousands of customers at once.

He was introduced to the cryptocurrency as an investor in bitcoin-mining contractor cloudhashing.com, an enterprise that takes the mystique out of bitcoins to customers, offering competitive pricing and strong returns for investors. One week after its ASX launch, DigitalBTC announced its strategic partnership with cloudhashing.com to convert the mined bitcoins into traditional currencies, or allow them to be traded. "The provision of DigitalBTC trading services to cloudhashing.com will create a win-win outcome for both," he says.

Kevin Parker

Tame Impala's past two albums, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, have scooped
the band a slew of awards, including three ARIAs, plus a Grammy nomination. Lonerism was even dubbed a "psychedelic masterpiece" by Rolling Stone magazine.
So when the band's producer, frontman and all-round mastermind Kevin Parker claimed that the new album he's working on will make the previous one look very ordinary indeed, music insiders sat up and took notice.

"I'm super excited about it," he told The Vine of the new, simpler album. "All I can think now is that it'll make Lonerism look like amateur hour. From a sonic viewpoint anyway, I'm just a lot better at creating sounds."

The Perth band that was a regular at Freo hotspot Mojos has gone from bedroom band to worldwide sensation. Their self-proclaimed 'psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock' songs are being sampled by some of hip-hop and rock's most prevalent and renowned artists, like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky.

Kevin currently splits his time between Perth and Paris with his girlfriend Melody Prochet, with whom he has collaborated on the dream pop project Melody's Echo Chamber. He also works on the Perth-based psychedelic funk/space rock project Kevin Spacey, along with musicians Cam Avery and Cam Parkin.

Olivia Humphrey

A Subiaco-based business is changing the way we learn, distributing educational videos to some of the world's finest universities.

Kanopy, dubbed 'the YouTube of education', was launched in 2008 out of a Perth garage, after founder Olivia Humphrey stumbled on a surprising fact while working in documentary distribution for BBC and Roadshow Entertainment.
"Students were the highest consumers of online video, yet it didn't constitute part of the higher education curriculum," she says. "I launched Kanopy to fill that gap."

The business now boasts over 30,000 videos, streamed to thousands of universities around the world, particularly in the USA. "In the US, the pace of customer acquisition has exceeded our expectations," says Olivia. "An example is Stanford University, who were apprehensive about video streaming in general, but have now adopted Kanopy for not only licensed content, but to host all their own videos as well."

Still, she's not surprised by the success. "Students respond better to video than any other media, and there is a wealth of incredible productions available beyond mainstream movies," she says. "I believe storytelling through film is one of the most powerful mediums to learn, share and challenge ideas."

Next up is global domination. As well as the Subiaco office, bases in San Francisco and Hong Kong are powering exponential growth through USA and the Middle East. Olivia would also like to make the videos accessible to people who aren't enrolled in a formal institution. "I would love to see our videos available to anyone wanting to learn through the power of film."

Tara Simich

This twenty-three-year-old from Perth has become a serious heavyweight in the international fitness world, taking her patented Jungle Body workouts to gyms throughout Australia and beyond. Tara cut her teeth on the fitness scene in New York, developing a new gym alongside world heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko and former gym manager Matteo Baker. "One thing which really stood out to me there was a huge gap in the group fitness industry." Upon returning to Perth, she set about filling it, developing a workout called KONGA® – a one-hour workout that mashes cardio, boxing, dance, strength training and Pilates. Talk about multi-tasking.

Through social-media marketing and word-of-mouth recommendations, the workout spread interstate and overseas. Now, four years later, she offers an additional four workouts under the catch-all Jungle Body brand, and has over 300 licencees in places as far-flung as Dubai and Finland.

"This year is all about expanding throughout the UK and Europe, with a host of appearances at conventions, shows and conferences," says Tara. "We also are building our social-media presence to take fitness and dance fitness where it hasn't been before."

Then, there's an upcoming home shopping network deal, which could make Jungle Body a household name in the United States, as well as signal a full circle for Tara. "It's exciting to be venturing back to the USA where the idea first came from!"

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