Australian of the Year Awards 2013 Announced

Posted 25 January 2013 4:12pm

Publishing icon and health care champion Ita Buttrose AO OBE has been named Australian of the Year 2013 at the Australian of the Year Awards announcement event held this evening in front of Parliament House in Canberra.

Ms Buttrose was presented with the Australian of the Year award by The Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard MP.

South Australia's Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM was named Senior Australian of the Year 2013 for his lifetime of health care achievements; inspiring refugee and mentor Akram Azimi of Western Australia was named Young Australian of the Year 2013 and Indigenous community leader Shane Phillips from NSW was announced as Australia’s Local Hero 2013.

The Australian of the Year 2013, Ita Buttrose, was acknowledged for her extraordinary and inspiring achievements in a groundbreaking media career and her role in raising awareness of health care and media issues.

Ita was born in Sydney's Potts Point and attended Dover Heights Home Science High School and Sacred Heart Convent School in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

She began her career as a 15 year old copy girl at The Australian Women’s Weekly and quickly became a cadet journalist on the women's section at the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. At just 23 she was appointed women’s editor of these two newspapers   and, in 1971, created Cleo magazine for Sir Frank and Kerry Packer. It was an instant hit, becoming the top selling monthly women’s magazine and propelling Ita to national celebrity status.

Three years later she was appointed editor of The Women’s Weekly. In 1980 she became the first woman editor of an Australian metropolitan newspaper - the Murdoch owned Daily Telegraph and later the Sunday Telegraph. She was the first woman appointed to the News Limited Board in 1981.

In parallel to her stellar media career, Ita continues to champion social and health issues. 

Since 2011 she has been National President of Alzheimer’s Australia and is also Vice President Emeritus of Arthritis Australia. She has been Patron of Macular Degeneration Foundation since 2005. Now aged 71, Ita also uses her national profile to raise awareness of breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer.

Ita's children Kate Macdonald and Ben Macdonald were in the audience at the Canberra awards event to see their mother honoured.

The Senior Australian of the Year 2013, Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, is one of Australia’s pre-eminent palliative care specialists and a passionate advocate for the cause of peace. 

He has been a key leader for many years in both the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War - an organisation which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in 1985.

After promoting the development of palliative care in southern Adelaide for some years, Professor Maddocks was appointed Professor of Palliative Care at Flinders University in 1988, pursuing a rigorous teaching and research program as well as caring for his patients.

He was elected first President of the Australian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and first President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine. Recognised internationally for his work in palliative care, tropical and preventative medicine, Professor Maddocks’ texts are used world-wide.

Ian's awards over the years include the inaugural Bethlehem Griffiths Medal for research in palliative care. Now 82 years of age, Professor Maddocks continues to supervise postgraduate students and care for the terminally ill.

Ian was born in Hamilton, Victoria.  He attended primary schools in Linton, Charlton and Mordialloc and went to high school at Mordialloc-Chelsea High School and Scotch College in Victoria.  He studied at Melbourne University from 1950 until 1955. Professor Maddocks holds seven degrees obtained from 1961 through to 2000.

Ian is married with three children and five grandchildren and lives in Seacliff, South Australia.

The Young Australian of the Year 2013 is 25 year old mentor Akram Azimi of Marangaroo in Western Australia. Akram arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 1999 as a refugee. His journey in Australia took him from ‘an ostracised refugee kid with no prospects’ to becoming his school's head boy.

An outstanding student at Warwick Senior High School, he topped the tertiary entrance exam scores among his classmates. He's now studying a triple major - law, science and arts - at the University of Western Australia.

Intent on giving back to his adopted country, Akram uses his leadership and pastoral skills to help young people in remote and rural Western Australia.  In 2011 he co-founded a student-run initiative I am the other, set up to raise awareness about Indigenous issues in universities.

His philanthropic roles have included working with True Blue Dreaming, which helps disadvantaged remote Indigenous communities. For three years, Akram mentored young Indigenous people in the Looma community in the Kimberley region and he has mentored primary school students in the small farming community of Wyalkatchem, in WA’s wheat belt. He is also mentoring a Special Olympics athlete to help raise community awareness of disability issues.

Akram was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He arrived in Australia in 1999 with his mother and brother.  He lives with his family in Marangaroo, Western Australia.

Australia’s Local Hero 2013 is Indigenous community leader Shane Phillips of Redfern, Sydney.  At 48, Shane is a respected member of the Redfern Aboriginal Community in Sydney and is regarded as the voice of the community on issues including juvenile justice and Aboriginal deaths in custody.

He is the full time CEO of the Tribal Warrior Association, a non-profit organisation directed by Aboriginal people and Elders that offers training for employment and helps at the grassroots level with emergency relief for struggling families.

Shane also operates a mentoring program to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.  The concept is uncomplicated: it’s about forming good habits, guiding by example, including everyone and acknowledging achievements.

Shane is also credited with improving the relationship between his community and the police.  Since the 2009 introduction of the Clean Slate Without Prejudice program run in collaboration with the police, the number of robberies committed by local youth has declined by 80 per cent.

Born and raised in Redfern, Shane is an outstanding community leader, respected for his great integrity and capacity to work hard and get things done. He attended Alexandria Primary School and Cleveland Street High School. He is married with three children and still lives in Redfern.

The Australian of the Year Award recipients were selected from more than 2000 nominations submitted by the public.

Mr Ian Narev Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Bank, which has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years, congratulated the recipients of this year’s awards.

"The 2013 Australian of the Year Award recipients are outstanding role models for us all, with their leadership, achievements, passion, and contributions. We are inspired by the difference that these exceptional Australians have made to their communities and I wish them the best of luck in the future” said Mr Narev.

Ita Buttrose, Professor Ian Maddocks and Akram Azimi will take part in Australia Day activities by attending the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra tomorrow morning.  They will then join Shane Phillips in Sydney, where they will participate in celebrations at Darling Harbour ahead of the fireworks spectacular.

Have you got a question for the Australian of the Year?

Then head to australianoftheyear.org.au/inthespotlight or tweet @ausoftheyear and ask a question.

Or, if there's someone you think should be considered for the Australian of the Year

Awards 2014, nominate them now at www.australianoftheyear.org.au.