Queensland Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 15 November 2012 11:03am

Queensland Australian of the Year 2013 - Professor Adèle Green AC

Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2013 - Laurie Lawrence

Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2013 - Sally Pearson

Queensland Local Hero 2013 - Sergeant Dimitrios Bellos


Cancer researcher Professor Adèle Green AC has been named Queensland Australian of the Year 2013 in recognition of her work with melanoma research.

Professor Adèle Green has been at the frontline of melanoma research for 20 years, long enough to see students she has inspired and mentored join the campaign against the disease which is diagnosed in 9,000 Australians every year.

As head of cancer and population studies at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Adèle’s research focuses on assessing the impact of environmental factors in the cause and prognosis of melanoma, as well as the effect of genes on the development of melanoma. Her research establishing that daily sunscreen use can halve the risk of melanoma set the benchmark for prevention.

More recently she was lead author on a study of more than 26,000 Queenslanders diagnosed early with thin melanomas which revealed a heartening 20-year survival rate for 96 per cent of patients.

The study received international acclaim and has been described as a blueprint for assessing thin melanomas with a risk of metastatic disease.

A brilliant mentor, Adèle has also been recognised for her contribution to public health including Indigenous health and her leadership in the wider scientific community.

Laurie Lawrence was awarded Queensland Senior Australian of the Year 2013 for his work in reducing the risk of small children drowning.

Swimming coach Laurie Lawrence is known nationally for his spirited personality, his zest for life and for coaching champions, but arguably his greatest achievement is reducing the risk of small children drowning.

His passion for baby swimming began with the birth of his first daughter Jane in 1975. In 1988, troubled by the fact that drowning is the most common cause of death in children under five, Laurie created the Kids Alive - Do the Five water safety program to reduce the risk of preschool drowning.

Starting with the smallest babies, Laurie’s widely acclaimed program teaches children the skills to save themselves from drowning.

Aiming to reduce child drowning rates to zero, Laurie demonstrates the same conviction that saw him coach the Australian Olympic swimming team at Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.

His best known protégés include Steve Holland, Tracey Wickham, Jon Sieben and Duncan Armstrong. His Olympic coaching achievements include 10 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze medals from swimmers he has directly assisted. Swimmers he has coached boast 23 world records.

Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2013 is 26 year old, Olympic champion, Sally Pearson.

Olympic champion Sally Pearson was a promising young athlete of 14 when she saw Cathy Freeman storm home to win gold at the Sydney Olympics. At that moment her dream of gold was born and in 2012 it came true when she held off the opposition to win gold in the women's 100 metres hurdles at the London Olympics.

She had previously won the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 100 metres hurdles and again at the World Championships and the World Indoor Championships in 2011.Coming into the London Olympics she had won 32 of her past 34 races and carried the added weight of Australia’s expectations. In a race that was anticipated almost as much as Freeman’s race 12 years earlier, those expectations were fulfilled before a crowd of 80,000 when she edged out America's defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper. Two hundredths of a second separated them with Sally clocking 12.35 seconds to break the Olympic record.

In 2011 Sally was named Female Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations – the first Australian to receive the award.

Sergeant Dimitrios Bellos, or Jim as he is more commonly known, has been awarded Queensland Local Hero 2013 for his tireless community work.

Sergeant Jim Bellos is the Queensland Police Service’s cross-cultural liaison officer for southern Brisbane, an area home to 200 communities speaking 150 languages and practising more than 130 religions. Over the years, Jim has built a relationship of trust, respect and understanding between these communities and the police.

With endless energy and enthusiasm he establishes community consultative groups, organises multi-faith dinners, supports people through personal and family tragedy and best known of all, runs the For the Love of the Game program. Through the shared enjoyment of sport, particularly soccer, the program brings together more than 8,000 young people from diverse backgrounds and is a real catalyst in breaking down barriers, and has resulted in a substantial decline in youth crime.

When the 2011 floods devastated a local sporting store Jim returned from holidays and gathered together 400 volunteers to clean up.

On call 24 hours a day, seven days a week Jim’s voluntary work extends far beyond his core work responsibilities.

The Queensland award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards announced on 25 January 2013 in Canberra.

Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, Tam Johnston, said the Queensland award recipients reflect the qualities and achievements Queenslanders admire.

“This year’s award finalists demonstrate the many ways in which Queenslanders achieve great things in both local communities and on the world stage," said Ms Johnston.

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 acknowledge the Queensland award recipients. You are now national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards and should be very proud of your achievement.

“While you have each been inspiring in your own way, you all share one common quality – you continue to selflessly improve the lives of others. Congratulations to you all and enjoy your time in Canberra in January” said Mr Narev.

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