Alumni News Articles

NT Australian of the Year recipients announced

16 November 2007

A paediatrician committed to preventing infectious diseases; a mental health services pioneer, an elite athlete who will become the Northern Territory's first Indigenous Pharmacy graduate; and a medical entomologist using community programs to eradicate dengue fever were tonight announced as the Northern Territory recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards 2008.

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, The Hon Clare Martin MLA, presented the recipients with their awards in a ceremony this evening, praising their efforts to make a real difference in the state's communities.

The Northern Territory award recipients are:

The Northern Territory's Australian of the Year 2008 is paediatrician Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

Professor Jonathan Carapetis is a paediatric infectious disease specialist with extensive experience working with Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. His studies ten years ago at Darwin's Menzies School of Health Research (to which he was appointed Director last year) led to the establishment of Australia's first rheumatic heart disease control program. Jonathan's work in discovering the link between scabies and rheumatic fever is helping support health professionals develop prevention, education, and treatment programs in Indigenous communities across Australia. He holds qualifications as a medical practitioner, paediatrician, infectious diseases and public health specialist and he was named as one of Australia's top ten scientific minds under the age of 45. Jonathan is a highly regarded paediatrician and dynamic researcher who has dedicated his career to improving the health of children living in poverty anywhere in the world.

The Northern Territory's Senior Australian of the Year 2008 is mental health services pioneer Joy Green.

Joy was the instigator and founding member of Mental Health Carers NT, one of the organisations she has driven over the past 20 years to fill the gaps for services for people with a mental illness. While her initial impetus was to advocate on behalf of her son, Rory, who suffered from schizophrenia, Joy's reach extended to all people with a mental illness and their carers. In 1995 their first paid worker was employed and the organisation now employs five staff in Darwin and Alice Springs to provide support services for mental health carers and social and recreational programs. Joy is modest about her achievements and is more likely to promote the worth of others than seek recognition for herself. She is one of those people whose motivation, energy, determination, and courage inspire others to do more.

The Northern Territory's Young Australian of the Year 2008 is athlete and pharmaceutical student Simone Liddy.

Twenty year old Simone could have chosen from many careers after finishing school in 2004. However, she selected a career in which there are few Indigenous people and one which will enable her to make a significant contribution to the health of Indigenous Territorians. When she graduates from Charles Darwin University she will be a true trailblazer - the first Indigenous graduate in a Bachelor of Pharmacy course. In addition to her heavy study load she works in the Pharmacy Department of the Royal Darwin Hospital and is an elite athlete with the NT Institute of Sport, representing the Territory in hockey and last year becoming a rookie member of the Northern Territory Pearls in the Australian Hockey League.

The Northern Territory's Local Hero 2008 is medical entomologist Peter Whelan AM.

Peter has been at the front line of community health for a long time as a medical entomologist with the Territory's health department. His successful community based approach to eradicating the dengue mosquito has been copied across the Top End. A recognised expert, Peter advises on similar programs elsewhere, including Victoria and East Timor. Peter is also a member of a multi-disciplined team conducting one of the most important research projects currently under way.

Jonathon's 'Modelling and control of mosquito-borne diseases in Darwin using long-term monitoring' project is a collaboration between the Department of Health and Community Services, the Menzies School of Health, and Charles Sturt University aimed at increasing the capacity to tackle the increasing threat of mosquito-borne diseases. As a public face of the Centre for Disease Control, people listen when Peter issues warnings and advice about how to avoid mosquito-borne diseases as the seasons come and go.

"The Northern Territory award recipients are making an impact not only across the Northern Territory, but their achievements will have a flow-on effect to all Australians and beyond," said Tam Johnston, National Manager of the Australian of the Year Awards.

"Like all our award recipients this year, they have been truly inspirational in their own fields and in the broader community."

All Northern Territory award recipients now become national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards to be announced in Canberra on 25 January 2008.

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