Alumni News Articles

QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD RECIPIENTS 2012 ANNOUNCED

17 November 2011

Queensland Australian of the Year 2012 - Bruce & Denise Morcombe 

Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2012 - David Williamson AO 

Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2012 - Chris Raine 

Queensland Local Hero 2012 - Doug Hislop

Child protection advocates Bruce and Denise Morcombe have been named recipients of the Queensland Australian of the Year 2012 award at an event in Brisbane tonight and presented with the honour by Queensland Premier The Hon Anna Bligh MP.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe are the parents of 13-year-old Queenslander Daniel Morcombe, who was tragically last seen alive eight years ago. In the years since Daniel’s 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.

David Williamson AO, was awarded Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2012 for his lifetime's achievements as a playwright whose work brings Australian society, culture, history and issues to the fore.

David is undoubtedly Australia’s most successful and well known playwright, producing an extensive body of work that includes 43 plays over 40 years. His work has provided employment for hundreds of Australian actors and directors over the years and taken more than $20 million at the box office in Sydney alone. Audiences closely identify with David’s plays, which tackle topical issues and mirror societal change. His themes of politics, loyalty and family in contemporary urban Australia have resonated with theatregoers for more than three decades.

David rose to prominence in the early 1970s, with works such as Don's Party (later turned into a film) and The Removalists. He also collaborated on the screenplays for celebrated Australian films, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. Major works include The Club, The Department, Travelling North, The Perfectionist, Emerald City, Money and Friends and Brilliant Lies.

Now aged 69, David has received 12 Writer’s Guild script awards and five Australian Film Institute screenplay awards. His current play, At Any Cost was co-written with the Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney, Dr Mohammed Khadra. It explores the burden of the cost of health in the last month of a person’s life.

The Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2012 is 24 year old Chris Raine of Annerley, whose anti-binge drinking campaign is helping to change the drinking habits of young people.

Chris is the founder and CEO of Hello Sunday Morning (HSM), an organisation that challenges young people to give up alcohol for three, six or 12 months at a time. Chris’ goal for the organisation is to break his generation’s unhealthy obsession with binge drinking.

While working at an advertising agency on an anti-alcohol campaign he first became interested in communicating to young people the adverse effects of excessive alcohol. In January 2009, Chris decided to abstain from alcohol for a year and began writing a blog to record his journey. The Hello Sunday Morning blog and website are now influencing participants aged from 18 to 73 to re-consider their drinking habits. To change Australia’s drinking culture, Chris says young people need to believe in an alternative that will improve their lives, provide a sense of purpose and help build meaningful relationships. HSM has received major funding from The Australian Centre for Social

Innovation, along with the Brisbane City Council and the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Organisation. The not-for-profit organisation has so far helped more than 2,250 people share their short-term abstinence experience. Chris has already made a huge impact in combating the problem and he now intends to take the program to students in universities around Australia and New Zealand.

The Queensland Local Hero 2012 is Hemmant's Doug Hislop, the tugboat owner who showed extreme bravery during the devastating Brisbane floods.

As the flood waters rose in Brisbane in the early hours of the morning, Doug was at home listening to the radio when he heard that a walkway had collapsed and was threatening the nearby Gateway Bridge. Doug and a friend fired up Doug’s 50-foot tugboat Mavis and travelled half a kilometre up the flooded watercourse to intercept the walkway. The conditions on the Brisbane River at 4am that morning were treacherous, with the surging river moving at about 10-12 knots, well above its standard speed. The drifting walkway was described by locals as a ‘300 metre floating missile’ and police had closed the bridge, fearing the impact of the 1000 tonne walkway would damage the bridge or even cause it to collapse. Through skilful navigation, Doug managed to steer the partially submerged walkway away from the Gateway Bridge and a nearby boat marina, preventing serious additional damage. By putting himself at risk to help others, Doug became a symbol of community spirit and mateship.

The Queensland award recipients will now join recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2012 in Canberra.

Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said the Queensland award recipients are highly inspirational people who reflect the very best of what it means to be Australian.

"The award recipients show us what it means to be not just Queenslanders but Australian, through their spirit, their sense of mateship, their achievements and their willingness to help others," said Ms Johnston

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh congratulated all of the finalists and recipients for their commitment and contribution to the State of Queensland.

“Their strong sense of community and willingness to act is a trait to be celebrated and recognised,” said Premier Bligh.

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris congratulated the Queensland award recipients.

"The Commonwealth Bank is proud to be part of acknowledging the work and efforts of an impressive group of Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards," said Mr Norris.

"This year's Queensland recipients are extraordinary people that we can all be inspired by. It is the passion and determination of individuals like these that make Australia a terrific country. I wish them the best of luck for the national awards in January."