Alumni News Articles

Victoria's Australian of the Year Award recipients named

16 November 2009

Mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry was tonight named the Victorian Australian of the Year 2010 The 57 year old University of Melbourne professor has devoted the past 27 years to the improvement of youth mental health and has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of young people around the world.  As Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health (OYH), a world-renowned youth mental health service, he has helped put 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). Professor McGorry is currently overseas and a representative from Orygen Youth Health accepted the award on his behalf.

Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year is Camberwell’s Nigel Dick AM.  In 1979 he was instrumental in establishing Odyssey House in Victoria, a residential rehabilitation program for people with drug and alcohol addiction.  Since its inception, Odyssey House has transformed the lives of more than 8,000 clients and reduced the impact and negative effects of drug and alcohol use in Australia.

The Victorian Young Australian of the Year 2010 is 28 year old Larissa Brown.  Five years ago, working from her bedroom, Larissa founded the Centre for Sustainability Leadership. It has now become a registered not-for-profit group with more than 100 volunteers, a Melbourne office and a partnership with the United Nations. The centre runs the Centre for Sustainability Leadership program which takes a group of young Australians who demonstrate potential and mentors them to lead efforts to create a more sustainable world.

Kilmore East couple Kevin and Rhonda Butler were presented with the Victoria’s Local Hero 2010 award for their outstanding efforts to aid those recovering from the tragic Black Saturday bushfires. For more than nine months, from their simple shearing shed, Kevin and Rhonda inspired more than 3,200 volunteers from all over Australia and overseas to help rebuild fences on approximately 400 properties. Working seven days a week alongside bushfire survivors, volunteers rolled up 700 km of burnt fencing and rebuilt over 500 km of fences. Working alongside the survivors and volunteers, Kevin and Rhonda have helped rebuild fences in weeks not months, providing friendship and support, instead of isolation and despair.

The Victorian recipients will now join award recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2010 in Canberra. 

Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said all the Victorian award recipients will travel to Canberra for the national awards and to take part in the 50th Anniversary of the Australian of the Year Awards program.

“All the State and Territory award recipients will attend a special celebration event on 24 January before the announcement on 25 January,” said Ms Johnston.

“It will be a very special occasion and we look forward to sharing it with this amazing group of Victorians.”

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

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