Alumni News Articles

South Australia's Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

10 November 2010

SA Australian of the Year 2011 - Professor Tanya Monro
SA Senior Australian of the Year 2011 - Professor Don Bursill AM
SA Young Australian of the Year 2011 - Vincent Buckskin
SA Local Hero 2011 - Peter Goers
Physicist Professor Tanya Monro has been named South Australia’s Australian of the Year 2011 and presented with her award by the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR.

The 37 year old Urrbrae resident was recognised for her work in the field of photonics - technology which allows the generation and control of light using glass optical fibres.  Photonics enables the creation of new tools for scientific research and solutions for problems in areas such as information processing, surgery, health monitoring, military technology, agriculture and environmental monitoring.

Professor Monro became the inaugural professor in photonics at the University of Adelaide in 2005 and her PhD research focused on developing new classes of optical fibres, for which she received the Bragg Gold Medal for the best physics PhD in Australia. In 2006, she was named as one of the top 10 brightest young minds in Australia by national science magazine Cosmos and, in 2008, she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. Tanya is a member of the South Australian Premier’s Science & Research Council and regularly serves on a range of key national bodies in the area of science policy and evaluation.

Tea Tree Gully’s Professor Don Bursill AM was awarded South Australia’s Senior Australian of the Year 2011 in recognition of his work in water management.

Professor Bursill, 61, is an international leader and recognised expert in the field of water management and water quality. He has been at the forefront of the most important developments and decisions regarding potable water in Australia for the past 40 years. A key member of the Australian Water Association and the International Water Association, Don led the team that established the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Water Quality and research. Under his leadership, CRC became an internationally-respected water research establishment and the first stop for anyone requiring information about the drinking water industry in Australia. Don transformed the Australian water industry into an international leader in the field and worked with the American Water Works Association Research Foundation to establish an international commitment to water quality. His work with German colleagues led to the transformation of an informal coalition of leading water agencies into the Global Water Research Consortium. Despite his international standing, Don has always given to the local community. His support and generous advice to volunteer members of the Onkaparinga Estuary Water Quality Group resulted in a million dollar wetland clean up of storm water entering the Onkaparinga River.

South Australia’s Young Australian of the Year 2011 is 24 year old Vincent Buckskin, an Aboriginal culture teacher from Salisbury Downs who is working to preserve his traditional language and culture.

After losing his sister, Vincent (also known as Jack) immersed himself in the dancing and language of his culture and took 18 months to learn the endangered Kaurna language. He now teaches more than 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, aged five to 62, through high schools and language schools. Jack believes there are not enough Indigenous people learning their language and is working with linguist Dr Rob Amery from the University of Adelaide to change this. Together they have established the Kaurna place names project which aims to identify and map places with Kaurna names and to encourage the use and increase knowledge of them. Jack is also sharing his culture and stories through dance lessons at the Kaurna Plains School and has organised a traditional family dance group, Kuma Karro (‘One Blood’).

South Australia’s Local Hero 2011 is Peter Goers of Norwood, an actor, director, reviewer, former academic and radio program host recognised for his admirable contributions to community organisations and causes.

Peter’s career has spanned over 35 years in the entertainment industry, across a range of different mediums including television and theatre.  He is host of the ABC Local Radio program, The Evening Show, which broadcasts throughout South Australia and into New South Wales and is also a columnist for Adelaide’s Sunday Mail. However, it is Peter’s extraordinary support for community organisations across South Australia which has gained the thanks and respect from the public.  He is patron of six arts and community organisations, ambassador for numerous charities and the Port Adelaide Football Club. Attending more than 120 community events in the past year, he has taken on a range of responsibilities from public speaking, mentoring and committee work, to assist in raising awareness of local programs and events. His commitment is notable with almost all of his spare time spent supporting these community, artistic and cultural groups in achieving their goals.

The South Australian 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 South Australian award recipients were making a difference in many ways.

“This year’s South Australian award recipients are an extraordinary group of people, whether they are making progress in scientific areas, keeping an ancient culture alive or helping others every day,” said Ms Johnston.

Ralph Norris, CEO Commonwealth Bank, offered his congratulations to the South Australian 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 South Australian recipients. Their hard work and achievements are an inspiration to the Australian community,” said Mr Norris.

For more information about the South Australian Awards recipients, click here.

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