Dr Craig Challen SC OAM

Cave diver and rescuer

2019 WA Australian of the Year

In July 2018, respected cave diver and retired vet Dr Craig Challen was about to go on a caving holiday in the Nullarbor Plains, when he was called to help on a rescue mission in Thailand. Craig was part of the international team that successfully rescued 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Craig, who has dived some of Australia's deepest wrecks and has set depth records in diving, was chosen for the mission based on his technical expertise. Working 10 to 12 hours a day in extremely dangerous conditions, Craig repeatedly risked his life as the children were swum, one-by-one, through the dark and narrow flooded caves.

Despite admitting he initially thought the rescue would be too difficult to accomplish, he played a leading role in this successful and heroic mission. Craig was awarded the Star of Courage for his unwavering and selfless bravery following the successful rescue of the trapped soccer team.