Keith Payne VC AM

War veteran and Victoria Cross recipient

QLDNomineeSenior Australian of the Year2022

After leaving his job as a tradesman in 1951 to join the Australian Army, Keith Payne VC AM was sent to fight at the age of 18. It would be the beginning of decades of military service across the world, taking him to the battlefields of Korea, Malaya and Vietnam.

One night in 1969, in the dark jungle of Vietnam and under heavy enemy fire, Keith returned to a fled battlefield to rescue 40 of his soldiers. For his extreme act of bravery in leading his men to safety, Keith received the Victoria Cross in 1970.

Upon returning to Australia, Keith struggled with demons of his own, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This experience spurred him on to become active in counselling returned soldiers, while also encouraging and supporting troops in active service.

In his lifetime of service, Keith has helped not only veterans of foreign wars, but also Indigenous diggers and communities left behind by civilian and military bureaucracy.