Alumni News Articles

Australians of the Year Announced

25 January 2010

Victorian youth mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry has been named Australian of the Year 2010.  Professor McGorry was presented with the award by the Prime Minister, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP and National Australia Day Council Chair Adam Gilchrist at a public event on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra this evening.

Western Australia’s Trooper Mark Donaldson VC was named Young Australian of the Year 2010, South Australian cook and restaurateur Maggie Beer was named Senior Australian of the Year 2010 and NSW food rescuer Ronni Kahn was named as Australia’s Local Hero 2010.

The Prime Minister presented each recipient with a handmade glass award and praised their achievements.

“For the past 50 years, the Australian of the Year Awards program has honoured those among us who inspire us, and do us proud as a nation,” said the Prime Minister.

“This year I am again awed by the achievements and contributions of the award recipients, who demonstrate that greatness comes in many forms and all Australians have the potential for greatness within us.”

Fifty seven year old Professor McGorry is Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health (OYH), a world-renowned youth mental health service which has placed Australia at the forefront of innovation in the early intervention and treatment of mental illness. He is also a Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace) and is passionate about caring for young people with mental health issues. For more than 25 years, he has contributed to the improvement of the youth mental health sector to help transform the lives of tens of thousands of young people here and around the world.

The Prime Minister paid tribute to the profound effect of Professor McGorry’s work, and thanked him for raising awareness of the major problem of youth mental illness in our community.

“The incredible influence of his work, the number of young Australians and their families whose lives have been improved, and the value of his contribution to the nation cannot ever fully be measured,” Mr Rudd said.

“With this award, we recognise that we have in Professor McGorry a leader whose drive, compassion, and commitment to understanding and treating youth mental illness has helped shaped not only lives, but our national approach to mental health intervention, prevention and treatment.  He is truly a worthy recipient, and I congratulate him on being named Australian of the Year 2010 this evening.”

The Senior Australian of the Year 2010 is cook and restaurateur Maggie Beer of Nurioopta, South Australia. Maggie Beer is an Australian culinary icon. She and her husband, Colin, ran the famed Pheasant Farm Restaurant, before Maggie opened an export kitchen for the production of preservative-free gourmet foods. In 1999, she opened Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and went on to co-host the ABC cooking program, The Cook and the Chef.  Maggie hopes that through sharing her love of food she will inspire Australians to reconnect with food and appreciate what we eat.

The Young Australian of the Year 2010 is Trooper Mark Donaldson VC of Western Australia.  In 2009, Mark Donaldson was awarded the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest military honour. When Mark’s unit in Afghanistan was hit by an ambush, he deliberately drew enemy fire to himself on several occasions so that wounded soldiers could be moved to safety. Then, when he saw a coalition force interpreter lying wounded, he ran 80 metres across exposed ground to rescue him and carry him to safety. His bravery in the face of great danger saved lives and won him the highest respect.

Australia’s Local Hero 2010 is food rescuer Ronni Kahn of Bronte, New South Wales. In 2004, Ronni created OzHarvest to collect surplus food from restaurants, cafes and events and deliver it to charities. OzHarvest now has over 600 food donors and delivers more than 110,000 meals each month to 163 charities in Sydney, Canberra and Wollongong and continues to expand. With Ronni’s guidance, OzHarvest has had a profound impact on the environment, saving thousands of tonnes of food from landfill and helping clients of charities to eat quality, nutritious food.

Ralph Norris, CEO Commonwealth Bank congratulated the award recipients and said they serve as inspirational role models.

“The Australian of the Year Award recipients for 2010 are an exceptional group of people who share a determination to make a difference to the Australian community,” said Norris.

“Professor McGorry has made an extraordinary contribution to the challenge of mental health among young people; Trooper Donaldson has demonstrated great personal valour and reminds us of the selfless spirit of our defence personnel; Maggie Beer shows us how a passionate life has no age barrier and Ronni Kahn is a great example of someone seeing an opportunity to make a real difference in their local community.”

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. 

More than 2,500 nominations were received from the public for the 2010 awards and nominations are already being accepted for the Australian of the Year 2011.  Nominate someone that makes you proud now at www.australianoftheyear.org.au.

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