Australian of the Year Awards
The Australian of the Year Awards recognise the achievements of people who have made a major contribution to Australian society.
There are four award categories and each year four finalists are selected by each Australian state and territory. State and territory award recipients then become national finalists. The national award recipients are announced in Canberra on the eve of Australia Day 2014.
Queensland Australian of the Year Awards 2014
The Queensland recipients for the Australian of the Year Awards 2014 are:
Queensland Australian of the Year
Li Cunxin, ballet director
Born into poverty in rural China, Li Cunxin was spotted by Madam Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy at age 11 and his life changed forever. After a gruelling seven year training regime, Li became one of China’s foremost ballet dancers.
Awarded one of the first cultural scholarships ever endowed in China to study in America, Li subsequently defected to the West in 1981. He went on to dance with the Houston Ballet for 16 years and became one of the best dancers in the world. While in London he met and fell in love with Australian-born ballerina, Mary McKendry, and in 1995 moved to Australia to become Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet.
Li’s award-winning autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer, is an international bestseller which became a blockbuster film in 2009. Today, Li is Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet, a motivational speaker and mentor. Li encourages many ballet dancers with his passion for dance and devotion to artistic excellence, and his story of hardship, perseverance and success is an inspiration to all Australians.
Senior Australian of the Year
Dr Robert McGregor, paediatrician and fundraiser
A medical practitioner specialising in child health, Dr Robert McGregor has made an outstanding contribution to Queensland’s community. Bob has devoted nearly four decades to his role as consultant paediatrician at Ipswich Hospital. Many of his current patients are the children or even grandchildren of former patients.
Bob was the longtime chair of a hospital fund which raised more than $110,000 for medical equipment, child-friendly nurses’ uniforms and toys for the special care nursery. He has been involved in community outreach programs to prevent child abuse and has presented many papers at medical conferences.
He is equally dedicated to his community, working in a number of voluntary roles for local schools and Lions clubs. A keen cyclist, Bob was the inspiration and driving force behind the Heritage Bank Ipswich 100 Bike Ride fundraising event. By 2013, the 14th annual Bike Ride attracted nearly 1000 riders and raised $100,000 for the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, local charities and Lions’ projects.
Young Australian of the Year
Jordyn Archer, child protection activist
At just 16 years of age, Jordyn Archer established her own not-for-profit organisation, Chant4Change. In the last five years, Jordyn’s fundraising concerts have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the work of Destiny Rescue, a charity which frees girls from sex-trafficking and provides them with a home, skills training and a fresh start to life.
Jordyn has lived in Cambodia, working among Destiny Rescue girls in a voluntary capacity, teaching English and dancing, and managing the café which employs some of the girls.
Jordyn is equally passionate about issues on her own doorstep and, together with her brother Joel, hosts weekly barbecues for homeless people in the Sunshine Coast area.
In 2013, Jordyn was asked to sit on the Advance Kawana community advisory body to provide input into issues facing her community. Jordyn is positive proof that neither financial resources nor celebrity status are necessary for someone to act on social injustice.
Queensland’s Local Hero
Suzy Wilson, Indigenous literacy champion
Disturbed by low rates of literacy among Indigenous Australians, bookstore owner Suzy Wilson organised the first Riverbend Readers’ Challenge in 2004, raising $25,000 for Indigenous literacy projects.
Determined to do more, Suzy subsequently established the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which provides books and literacy resources to more than 200 remote Indigenous communities around Australia.
A former teacher, education consultant and university lecturer, Suzy is passionate about literacy and has become a catalyst, changing children’s lives through literature. In 2013, the foundation raised nearly half a million dollars, translated dozens of early childhood books into the first languages of Indigenous communities, and supplied 100,000 books to people around Australia. More than 20,000 students now support the foundation through annual Great Book Swaps and other fundraisers.
Suzy’s vision for a fair and equal Australia is helping to level the playing field, so that our nation’s children have the same opportunities to develop a lifelong love of reading.
The Australian of the Year Awards is a program of the National Australia Day Council. To learn more about the awards and nation-wide finalists, or to nominate a candidate, visit the Australian of the Year website or phone 1300 130 279.
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