Alumni News Articles

Queensland Australian of the Year Awards 2014 recipients announced

13 November 2013

Queensland’s Australian of the Year 2014 - Li Cunxin

Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year 2014 - Dr Robert McGregor

Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year 2014 - Jordyn Archer

Queensland’s Local Hero 2014 - Suzy Wilson


The Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman has congratulated the 2014 Queensland Australian of the Year Award recipients at a special awards ceremony at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane this evening.

Li Cunxin has been named Queensland’s Australian of the Year 2014 for his contribution to the arts.

Born into extreme poverty in rural China, Li Cunxin was spotted by Madam Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy at age 11 and his life changed forever. 

After a gruelling seven year training regime, Li became one of China’s foremost ballet dancers.  Awarded one of the first cultural scholarships ever endowed in China to study in America, Li subsequently defected to the West in 1981. 

He went on to dance with the Houston Ballet for 16 years and became one of the best dancers in the world. 

While in London he met and fell in love with Australian-born ballerina, Mary McKendry and in 1995 moved to Australia to become Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet. 

Li’s awarding-winning autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer, is an international bestseller which became a blockbuster film in 2009.  Today, the 52 year old Ascot resident is Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet, a motivational speaker and mentor.  

Li encourages many ballet dancers with his passion for dance and devotion to artistic excellence, and his story of hardship, perseverance and success is an inspiration to all Australians.

Paediatrician and Fundraiser Dr Robert McGregor (Bob) has been awarded Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year 2014.

A medical practitioner specialising in child health, 68 year old Bob has made an outstanding contribution to Queensland’s community.  Bob has devoted nearly four decades to his role as consultant paediatrician at Ipswich Hospital.  Many of his current patients are the children or even grandchildren of former patients. 

Bob was the long-time chair of a hospital fund which raised more than $110,000 for medical equipment, child-friendly nurses’ uniforms and toys for the special care nursery.  He has been involved in community outreach programs to prevent child abuse and has presented many papers at medical conferences.  He is equally dedicated to his community, working in a number of voluntary roles for local schools and Lions clubs. 

A keen cyclist, the Karana Downs resident was the inspiration and driving force behind the Heritage Bank Ipswick100 Bike Ride fundraising event.  By 2013, the 14th annual Bike Ride attracted nearly 1,000 riders and raised $100,000 for the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, local charities and Lions’ projects.

Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year 2014, is 21 year old Clontarf resident Jordyn Archer.

At just 16 years of age, Jordyn Archer established her own not-for-profit organisation, Chant4Change.  In the last five years, Jordyn’s fundraising concerts have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the work of Destiny Rescue, a charity which frees girls from sex-trafficking and provides them with a home, skills training and a fresh start to life. 

Jordyn has lived in Cambodia, working among Destiny Rescue girls in a voluntary capacity, teaching English and dancing, and managing the café which employs some of the girls. 

Jordyn is equally passionate about issues on her own doorstep, and together with her brother Joel, hosts weekly barbecues for homeless people in the Sunshine Coast area. 

In 2013, Jordyn was asked to sit on the Advance Kawana community advisory body to provide input into issues facing her community.  Jordyn is positive proof that neither financial resources nor celebrity status are necessary for someone to act on social injustice.

Suzy Wilson has been awarded Queensland’s Local Hero 2014 for her tireless work as an Indigenous literacy champion.

Disturbed by low rates of literacy among Indigenous Australians, bookstore owner Suzy organised the first Riverbend Readers’ Challenge in 2004, raising $25,000 for Indigenous literacy projects. 

Determined to do more, Suzy subsequently established the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which provides books and literacy resources to more than 200 remote Indigenous communities around Australia. 

A former teacher, education consultant and university lecturer, Suzy is passionate about literacy and the Foundation has become a catalyst that is changing children’s lives through literature.

 In 2013, the Foundation raised nearly half a million dollars, translated dozens of early childhood books into the first languages of Indigenous communities, and supplied 100,000 books to people around Australia.  More than 20,000 students now support the Foundation through annual Great Book Swaps and other fundraisers. 

The 53 year old Bulimba resident’s vision for a fair and equal Australia is helping to level the playing field, so that all our nation’s children have the same opportunities to develop a lifelong love of reading.

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The Queensland award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2014 in Canberra. 

Premier Campbell Newman praised each of the recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards 2014 for Queensland.

Mr Newman said this year’s recipients are outstanding members of the community epitomising the dedication, determination and drive of true role models and outstanding citizens. 

“As a Queenslander, and an Australian, I am so very proud to share this great state along with these heroes,” said Mr Newman.

“I would like to thank each finalist for their contribution to Queensland and Australia to date. I wish them the best of luck in now running for the national title in Canberra.”

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the Queensland award recipients were four inspirational Australians.

“The Queensland award recipients are amazing individuals all achieving great things in their own specialised fields,” said Mr Lasek.

“The diverse skills represented by our four Queensland award recipients demonstrate the range of passions and talents held by Queenslanders.”

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

“The Commonwealth Bank is proud to recognise your outstanding achievements. Congratulations on becoming national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards - you should all be very proud,” said Mr Narev.

“We are pleased to be able to celebrate and acknowledge your ongoing dedication to building a better country for us all.”  

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au.

Media contact: Zannie Abbott 0418 274 291 or Nicole Browne on 0414 673 762

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