Alumni News Articles

ACT Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

23 November 2010

ACT Australian of the Year 2011 - Professor Ian Chubb AC
ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2011 - Marie Coleman PSM
ACT Young Australian of the Year 2011 - David Bresnik
ACT Local Hero 2011 - Alan Jessop

Education leader Professor Ian Chubb AC has been named ACT Australian of the Year 2011 for his lifetime contribution to tertiary education, its governance and policy.

Professor Chubb has dedicated 30 years to tertiary education and university governance both here in Australia and internationally. Currently Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University (ANU) he has made an exceptional contribution to the strength and standing of the nation’s university.

Ian began his university career as a neuroscientist, receiving a Master of Science in 1973, a Master of Arts status in 1974, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1975. He was the recipient of a number of academic awards and named fellowships at the University of Ghent and Oxford University. His career includes six years as Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University and senior executive appointments at Monash University and the University of Wollongong. Ian has published widely, has taught science and medical students, and has supervised research students. He has served as President of the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, Chair of the International Alliance of Research Universities, and has held various positions on research councils.

A believer in the importance of a robust higher education system for the economic, social and cultural prosperity of a nation, Ian is a powerful commentator on higher education policy and his contribution to higher education in Australia is exceptional.

Marie Coleman PSM was awarded ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2011 in recognition of her significant contributions to the women’s movement in Australia.

As a public servant in the Whitlam and the Fraser governments, Marie was active in providing a positive outlook for women during a period of massive social change in Australia. Marie was the first woman to head a Commonwealth Government statutory agency, and the first woman to hold the powers of permanent head under the Public Service Act. She was founding Secretary of the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), and was on the board of directors who worked to establish the Australian Women’s Archives Project to build knowledge and recognition of the contribution made by women to Australia.

At 77, Marie currently chairs the Social Policy Committee of the NFAW, which has played a leadership role for national women’s organisations in research and analysis of the impacts of the former WorkChoices and Welfare to Work policies on woman. She spearheaded the campaign which resulted in the establishment of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into a national paid maternity, paternity and parental leave scheme.

The ACT Young Australian of the Year 2011 is 27 year old youth support volunteer David Bresnik of Farrer.

David is a generous and committed volunteer who has dedicated an extraordinary amount of his time to young people through the St Vincent de Paul Society.  His voluntary work with the organisation began in 2003 while he was completing his university studies, initially focusing on the St Joseph’s programs which provide recreational respite to children experiencing hardship and disadvantage. David was involved with sporting activities, excursions and week-long camps, providing these young people with a positive role model. He loved his first camp so much that by the time he was a practicing accountant, David was sacrificing his spare time and annual leave to plan, organise and run camps for up to 40 children.

In 2006, David was elected President for the St Joseph’s conference and took over the planning and operation of all the ACT youth activities which includes 11 camps and 12 weekend activities annually. In 2008, he was appointed as youth representative for St Vincent de Paul Canberra, and the following year as National Youth Representative. In this role David was responsible for coordinating and being the voice for the society’s youth programs Australia-wide, and representing the organisation to the broader Australian public. His ongoing dedication to the organisation and, more importantly, to the young people who benefit from it, is an inspiration to those around him.

The ACT Local Hero 2011 is Alan Jessop from Palmerston, for his dedication to the Salvation Army.

Alan is a familiar face to people passing through Canberra’s city centre, where he has collected for the Salvation Army for the past 22 years.  While Alan has previously worked as a tailor, plumber, gas fitter, dairy farmer and has owned a number of post offices, it is his many years of service to the Salvation Army for which he is best known. Not many people are prepared to sit for hours collecting, but Alan is inspired by the Salvation Army’s good work in the area which includes a drug and rehabilitation program, a welfare centre and community churches.

At the age of 80, Alan has no intention of stopping his charity work.   Despite suffering two heart attacks and prostate cancer, Alan continues to collect three days a week for the charity, only missing the odd day for a medical appointment.

The ACT award recipients will now join recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2011 in Canberra. 

Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said the ACT award recipients reflected the diverse ways in which people can make a contribution.

“The ACT award recipients prove that we can all make a difference in society and earn the admiration of their fellow Australians,” said Ms Johnston.

Ralph Norris, CEO Commonwealth Bank, offered his congratulations to the ACT award recipients.

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than thirty years.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth Bank, I would like to congratulate the ACT award recipients. Their hard work and achievements are an inspiration to the Australian community,” said Mr Norris.

For more information on the ACT Award recipients, click here.

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