It was great to see The Project's Carrie Bickmore use her TV WEEK Gold Logie acceptance speech to raise awareness of an issue that affects so many people. Nominations for the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards are now open and if you know of someone going above and beyond, give them the recognition they deserve! #beaniesforbraincancer www.australianoftheyear.org.au/nominate Read More →
Western Australia's Australian of the Year Award recipients announced
WA Australian of the Year 2011 - Malcolm McCusker AO QC
WA Senior Australian of the Year 2011 - Robert Vojakovic AM
WA Young Australian of the Year 2011 - Clinton Heal
WA Local Hero 2011 - Mary Victor O’Reeri
Philanthropic barrister Malcolm McCusker AO QC has been named Western Australia’s Australian of the Year 2011 in recognition of his passionate commitment to social justice.
From humble beginnings, 72 year old Malcolm has reached the highest pinnacle of the legal profession as Queen’s Counsel and is the most senior practising QC in Western Australia. However, it is his prolific charity work and strategic approach to bringing about positive changes in communities which has earned him the respect and admiration of people throughout Western Australia.
Malcolm has worked to improve lives, championed community causes and encouraged others to recognise the importance of giving back to Australia for many years. He has donated in excess of $20 million and provided many hours of volunteer service, making a significant difference to over 100 organisations and a multitude of individuals.
Perth’s Robert Vojakovic AM was awarded Western Australia’s Senior Australian of the Year 2011 for his work helping the victims of asbestos related diseases over the past 32 years.
In 1961, Robert spent some time working at the infamous CSR blue asbestos mine at Wittenoom. While he himself did not suffer from asbestosis, in the 1970s he became aware of the lack of any support infrastructure (medical, legal and welfare) for former Wittenoom blue asbestos miners and other asbestos diseases victims. Realising the potential enormity of the problem, in the early eighties Robert incorporated the Asbestos Disease Society of Australia (ADSA) in WA.
For the last 28 years Robert has presided over the ADSA and managed the Asbestos Diseases Advisory Services of Australia. Through these organisations he has provided essential services and support to victims of asbestos diseases and their families throughout Australia, including counselling, medical and legal assistance, community awareness, and economic assistance for socially disadvantaged sufferers of asbestos diseases. Now aged 70, he has also successfully lobbied the government to change the Statutory Compensation Laws, Limitation Act, and entitlements to families in the matters of estate and dependency.
Western Australia’s Young Australian of the Year 2011 is 27 year old Clinton Heal of Subiaco, who founded MelanomaWA as an information and support organisation for people suffering from skin cancer.
At the age of just 22, Clinton himself was diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma and over the past four years he has had over 24 secondary tumours removed from all over his body. When Clinton was initially diagnosed he discovered that there was nowhere to go for help, support or information in WA. It took him over two years to research and gather all the information he needed to take effective control of his cancer journey. He particularly noticed the lack of information available about alternative and natural cancer therapies. So in 2008 Clinton founded MelanomaWA to help others get immediate access to the information and support they need during the early stages of the disease in order to improve their prognosis. Due to the lack of positive cancer support groups that help people ‘live well’ with cancer, he also established a group which runs monthly and brings in guest experts from a range of areas. In addition, Clinton organised Perth’s March for Melanoma, and volunteers his time to talk to schools and mine site workers about safety in the sun. This year he was appointed CEO of the Melanoma Cancer Support Association WA.
Western Australia’s Local Hero 2011 is suicide prevention advocate Mary Victor O’Reeri of Broome.
Mary lost her two brothers through suicide just two years apart and decided she had to act to help stop others at risk. From her own experience and background in teaching and foster care, she knew that the solution lay in collective effort. In 2009, Mary convened the inaugural Blank Page Summit in her remote community at Billard in the northwest Kimberley. Her goal was to stop the epidemic of suicide by Indigenous people, by inviting individuals with the will and capacity to effect fundamental change to create an action plan. People came to the Summit from communities across Australia representing fields as diverse as child protection, land management, justice, mental health, sport and recreation, counselling, education, disability, academia, government, politics and a range of community-led initiatives. The results were immediate and tangible as people focused on creating ‘suicide proof’ communities in the wake of the Summit.
In 2010 the Blank Page Summit focused on the honest conversations people need to have to improve attitudes and relationships, particularly where there are intractable social problems that defy orthodox problem solving strategies. Mary’s work demonstrates the profound impact of grass roots initiative and leadership in resolving trauma and preserving life.
Western Australia’s award 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 Western Australia’s award recipients all shared a passion for helping others and bringing about change.
“These are people the state can be proud of and who will continue to make a difference in the lives of others and in communities throughout Western Australia,” said Ms Johnston.
Ralph Norris, CEO Commonwealth Bank, offered his congratulations to Western Australia’s 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 Western Australia award recipients. Their hard work and achievements are an inspiration to the Australian community,” said Mr Norris.
For more information on the WA Award recipients, click here.