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Queensland Australian of the Year 2012 Award winners

The winners of the 2012 Queensland Australian of the Year Awards are:

Queensland Australian of the Year

Bruce and Denise Morcombe, child protection advocates. Photo by Lime Photography.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe, child protection advocates

Bruce and Denise Morcombe are the parents of 13-year-old Queenslander Daniel Morcombe. In the 8 years since Daniel’s disappearance, Bruce and Denise have shown immense fortitude and bravery, their great dignity drawing widespread admiration from the Australian community.

The Morcombes established the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, committed to educating children about personal safety and raising awareness for their protection. Despite their grief, they have worked through the foundation to speak at schools, community gatherings and public events.

Among the foundation’s achievements are:

  • establishing Day for Daniel—a national day of action held each year on the last Friday in October to educate children about personal safety
  • establishing Ride for Daniel, an event that covers 50km of the Sunshine Coast
  • providing financial support to grieving or suffering children. It may be for school fees, sporting equipment, computer equipment, a holiday, school uniforms, books, counselling etc.
  • producing the Foundation Red DVD, offering a simple and practical blueprint for all children and parents to incorporate into their daily lives.

Australians have been deeply moved by the Morcombes’ ordeal, which Bruce and Denise are determined will play a positive role in helping, through the foundation, to protect other children.

Senior Australian of the Year

David Williamson AO, playwright. Photo by Lime Photography.

David Williamson AO, playwright

David Williamson is undoubtedly Australia’s most successful and well-known playwright.

His extensive body of work includes 43 plays that have taken more than $20 million at the Sydney box office alone, and provided employment for hundreds of Australian actors and directors during the past 40 years.

Audiences closely identify with David’s plays, which tackle topical issues and mirror societal change. His themes of politics, loyalty, and family in contemporary urban Australia have resonated with theatregoers for more than 3 decades. David rose to prominence in the early 1970s, with works such as Don's party (later turned into a film) and The removalists.

David has received 12 Writers’ Guild script awards and 5 Australian Film Institute screenplay awards. He also worked on the screenplays for the celebrated Australian films Gallipoli and The year of living dangerously. Major plays include The club, The department, Travelling north, The perfectionist, Emerald City, Money and friends and Brilliant lies.

His current play, At any cost, was co-written with Dr Mohammed Khadra, a professor of surgery at the University of Sydney. This work explores the burden of the cost of health in the last month of a person’s life.

Young Australian of the Year

Chris Raine, 24, anti–binge drinking campaigner. Photo by Lime Photography.

Chris Raine, 24–anti binge drinking campaigner

Chris Raine is the founder and CEO of Hello Sunday Morning (HSM), an organisation that challenges young people to take a break from drinking alcohol. Chris’s goal for the organisation is to face up to his generation’s unhealthy obsession with binge drinking.

In January 2009, after working with an advertising agency on an anti-alcohol campaign, Chris decided to stop drinking alcohol for a year. He recorded his journey on a blog, eventually turning his journey into HSM, a website that seeks to get people thinking about their drinking habits. To change Australia’s drinking culture, Chris says young people need to believe in alternatives that improve their lives, provide purpose, and help build meaningful relationships.

HSM has received funding from The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, along with the Brisbane City Council and the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Organisation. So far, the not-for-profit organisation has helped more than 2250 people share their alcohol-free experiences.

Chris intends to take the program to students in universities around Australia and New Zealand.

Australia’s Local Hero

Doug Hislop, Queensland floods rescuer (Hemmant). Photo by Lime Photography.

Doug Hislop, Queensland floods rescuer (Hemmant)

During the 2011 Queensland floods, tugboat owner Doug Hislop showed extreme bravery in using his tugboat to prevent a partially submerged 300-metre walkway weighing more than 1000 tonnes from crashing into Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge.

Doug was at home listening to the radio in the early hours of the morning when he heard that the walkway had collapsed and was threatening infrastructure downriver. Doug and a friend fired up Doug’s 50-foot tugboat, Mavis, and travelled half a kilometre up the flooded river to intercept the walkway.

The surging Brisbane River at 4am that morning was treacherous, moving at about 10–12 knots—well above its usual speed. The drifting walkway was described by locals as a ‘300-metre floating missile’ and police had closed the bridge, fearing the impact of the walkway would damage the bridge or even cause it to collapse.

Through skilful navigation, Doug managed to steer the walkway away from the Gateway Bridge and a nearby boat marina, preventing serious damage. By putting himself at risk to help others, Doug became a symbol of community spirit and mateship.

Last updated
30 July 2012
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