Aussie of the Year
OOPS!! Sorry I meant to post this yesterday morning, but got carried away with my other duties ;) Anyway, I have gone straight to the source to find out more about these Australian of the year nominees. The Australia Day Council is the co-ordinator of these awards and its a great recognition of work achieved in certain sectors. Now I'm not going to list the young and senior Australian of the year nominees as that would take way too long, so you can look them up for yourself http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/
Anyway as I asked on the radio on Monday afternoon, how many of these names do you know and which one do you think is most worthy? My personal thoughts would be either Father Chris Riley or Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston...Both of these gentlemen are well known and I think worthy of this title...but hey! feel free to disagree and form your opinion and we''ll all find out together in January.
til next time
Ps Welcome to the lovely summer months!
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2012 - FINALISTS
New South Wales - Father Chris Riley AM
Charity founder Father Chris Riley AM has been named NSW Australian of Year 2012 in recognition of his dedication to helping disadvantaged Australians. Father Riley believes there is no such thing as ‘a child born bad’ but that they become vulnerable in unsafe environments and circumstances. He believes, with intervention and education, lives can be turned around.
Twenty years ago, Chris founded Youth Off The Streets (YOTS) with a single food van delivering meals to young homeless people in Kings Cross. Today it is a major agency assisting young people aged 12 to 21 who are homeless, face drug and alcohol dependency, exclusion from school, neglect and abuse. Chris estimates the organisation has helped over 50,000 young people with accommodation, education, psychological services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It is his determination, unstinting hard work and respect for both the clients and his 250 staff, that has guaranteed the success and effectiveness of YOTS.
In 1997 he opened Key College, an independent high school pioneering a flexible education model to help young homeless people return to school. YOTS now operates Key College on three separate campuses with a fourth school in the Southern Highlands. Twice the winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence, and the winner of the Human Rights Medal, Chris continues to make a difference in the lives of young people with selfless dedication, respect and good humour.
Victoria - Geoffrey Rush
Consummate actor and performing arts mentor Geoffrey Rush was named the Victorian Australian of the Year 2012. As an actor and film producer, Geoffrey has been honoured for his many achievements in an outstanding career on the stage and screen and for his long term commitment to the Australian arts, including mentoring young Australian artists.
Geoffrey is one of the few people to have won the ‘Triple Crown of Acting’ – an Academy Award, a Tony Award and an Emmy Award. He also has three British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, a number of AFI awards and has been inducted into the ranks of Australia’s elite performing artists with a Helpmann Award. His story is all the more impressive considering his international career did not take off until his mid-40s when he won an Oscar for his performance in Shine, based on the life of pianist and composer David Helfgott. It was his masterful performance as Peter Sellers that earned him an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
However, it is also his profound interest in and support of Australian film and theatre which has earned respect and admiration. While working internationally, he has always maintained a commitment to Australian film and theatre and he has been instrumental in helping many young artists get started in their careers, including Cate Blanchett whom he chose to star alongside him in a theatre production not long after she graduated from NIDA. As a measure of his passionate commitment to Australia's performing arts, Geoffrey recently accepted the appointment as foundation President of the newly established Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.
Queensland - Bruce and Denise Morcombe
Child protection advocates Bruce and Denise Morcombe are the recipients of the Queensland Australian of the Year 2012. Bruce and Denise Morcombe are the parents of 13-year-old Queenslander Daniel Morcombe, who was last seen alive eight years ago. In the years since Daniel’s tragic disappearance, Bruce and Denise have shown immense fortitude and bravery, their great dignity drawing widespread admiration from the Australian community.
The Morcombes have now established the Daniel Morcombe Foundation which is committed to educating children about personal safety and raising awareness for their protection. Despite their grief, they have worked through the foundation to speak at schools, community gatherings and public events. Among the foundation’s achievements are Day for Daniel, a national day of action to educate children about personal safety, and an associated event Ride for Daniel which covers 50kms of the Sunshine Coast. The foundation also provides financial support to grieving or suffering children. It may be for school fees, sporting equipment, computer, holiday, school uniforms, books, counselling etc. The Foundation Red DVD offers a simple and practical blueprint for all children and parents to incorporate into their daily lives.
Australians have been deeply moved by the Morcombes ordeal which Bruce and Denise are determined will play a positive role in helping, through the foundation, to protect other children.
Western Australia - Professor Donna Cross
Professor Donna Cross was named Western Australia's Australian of Year 2012 for her work as a children's advocate. Donna is the Foundation Professor of Child and Adolescent Health at the Child Health Promotion Research Centre. She is recognised internationally, having conducted research throughout the USA as well as Canada, Russia, Estonia, Japan and Israel, and with organisations including WHO, UNICEF and the American Health Foundation.
Since 1989 Donna has harnessed the results of her extensive school-based research to influence health promotion in schools. Her focus has been on changing the way Australian schools prevent and respond to aggression and the role of families in creating safer, more respectful communities.
Over the years, 51 year old Donna has tackled many issues affecting the wellbeing of children and young people. She has campaigned against drug use, cigarette smoking, bullying and child abuse and has worked to raise awareness of HIV and road safety.
With the increasing occurrence of cyber-bullying, Donna is at the forefront of measures to counter and reduce its insidious impact and the risk it presents to vulnerable children. She has won many awards for her research, leadership and advocacy, and is a tireless champion for positive, whole school approaches to children’s wellbeing.
South Australia - Robyn Layton QC
Social justice advocate Robyn Layton QC was named South Australia's Australian of the Year 2012.
The 66 year old former Supreme Court Judge has fought for the rights of the disadvantaged throughout her working life. Now, as co-chair of Reconciliation South Australia and Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia School of Law, Robyn is a highly respected commentator on Aboriginal issues.
Her interest began in the late 1960s after she went into partnership with the late Honourable Elliott Johnston, renowned campaigner on behalf of Aboriginal people. There she worked pro bono on behalf of Aboriginal people charged with criminal offences. She was appointed as solicitor for the Central Aboriginal Land Rights team from 1972–74, travelling extensively to see for herself the conditions and issues people had to deal with in remote Aboriginal communities.
Robyn has worked hard for child protection, both during the Child Protection Review and, since 2005, as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Australian Centre for Protection at the University of South Australia. Robyn is Patron of the Migrant Resource Centre and International Women’s Day Committee, and is a member of the National Advisory Group of the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre.
Tasmania - Robert Pennicott
Tasmania's Australian of the Year 2012 is ex-fisherman Robert Pennicott who has worked hard to set up a successful eco-tourism business. Robert is motivated by wanting to share his beloved Tasmanian coastline with other people and seeking to create employment and boost the economy of his home community of Bruny Island and the Tasman Peninsula. However, his most important motivation was to give back to the community which had supported him so well as a businessman. While Bruny Island Cruises and Tasman Island Cruises took off as world-class eco-tourism businesses, Robert founded the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, personally contributing $100,000 since 2007. The Fund has been instrumental in restoring the delicate ecosystem of Tasman Island, with a large scale eradication of feral cats.
Robert’s philanthropy doesn’t stop there. With his wife, artist Michaye Boulter, he established the Pennicott Foundation. The Foundation pursues conservation projects but has a much wider focus.Its first involvement is in Polio Plus, a global project in conjunction with Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to eradicate the crippling disease of poliomyelitis. By October 2011, 46 year old Robert had raised almost $300,000 through his ‘Follow the Yellow Boat Road’ circumnavigation of Australia in two inflatable dinghies. Robert funded the entire cost of the voyage himself, with every cent raised going to the eradication of the disease.
Australian Capital Territory - Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC
Retired military leader Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC has been named the ACT Australian of the Year 2012. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston is a towering figure in Australian public life. In 2001 he was appointed Chief of Air Force and four years later was promoted to the pinnacle of the military hierarchy, Chief of the Defence Force. Until his retirement in 2011, Angus inspired those under his command with his unswerving diligence, honesty and integrity – the phrase ‘an officer and a gentleman’ is synonymous with Angus Houston.
At 21, he migrated to Australia from Scotland, joining the Royal Australian Air Force in 1970. Ten years later, as a helicopter pilot, Angus was awarded the Air Force Cross for winching three shipwrecked sailors from wild seas off the NSW coast. As Chief of the Defence Force, he oversaw Australia’s challenging military operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. The tragic realities of war were part of his life. It was he who fronted the media whenever an Australian fatality occurred. His sincerity and humanity were always evident.
His legacy includes improved control and command systems, a better understanding of service men and women suffering mental illness and the rehabilitation of ADF casualties for them to continue serving in the defence force.
Northern Territory - Dr John Boffa
Medical campaigner Dr John Boffa is the Northern Territory’s Australian of the Year 2012.
Dr Boffa has dedicated his life to Indigenous health development and helping to overcome alcohol-based issues affecting the lives of Indigenous people in Northern Territory communities.
After graduating in medicine from Monash University, John knew he wanted to use his skills to help the disadvantaged, so he applied for a visa to work on a mission in India. While waiting for his visa to arrive he went to work at a health service in Tennant Creek. Six weeks later the visa arrived but 23 years on, John can be still be found working in the Northern Territory in pursuit of his life-long commitment to Indigenous health development and alcohol-based reforms.
Now 49, John is a general practitioner and the public health medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Congress in Alice Springs, where he has devoted his career to changing alcohol use patterns in Indigenous communities. Campaigns such as ‘Beat the Grog’ and ‘Thirsty Thursday’ highlighted the need to look beyond the individual to focus on the systems and structures that contribute to people’s behaviour.
Over the years, John has played an active and inspirational role in changing attitudes toward alcohol in Northern Territory communities through supply reduction, early learning and mental health programs. He continues his remarkable contribution as the spokesperson for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition reform group.