The extraordinary group of inspiring Australians in the running for the 2016 Australian of the Year Awards is now finalised, with all State & Territory Award recipients announced at a series of events around Australia over the past three weeks... our seniors are celebrated with their own category for each state. Here are 2016's seniors of the year.
Indigenous elder and role model
One of the nation’s most respected and enduring actors, Jack Charles is a member of Australia’s stolen generation. Removed from his mother as a baby and raised in a Salvation Army boys’ home, Jack knew nothing of his Indigenous heritage as a child. At 19 he began a career as an actor, but his life was plagued by personal demons. His addiction to heroin and a life of crime saw him jailed. Despite his struggles, he co-founded Australia’s first Indigenous theatre group, Nindethana, meaning ‘place of corroboree’, at Melbourne’s Pram Factory in 1971. His first play, Jack Charles is Up and Fighting, was a runaway hit. Jack has appeared in several movies, including the landmark film, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, and more recently Pan alongside Hugh Jackman. He has also toured his own one-man stage show locally and internationally. Now calm and centred, Jack is a strong role model for a new generation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Tim Fairfax AC
One of the country’s most successful businessmen, Tim Fairfax is also one of the most generous. With pastoral interests in Queensland and New South Wales, Tim is passionate about supporting rural, remote and regional communities. The founder of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Tim has gifted more than $16 million since 2008 to community-based arts, music and sporting projects in regional Australia. Tim also chairs the board of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, named after his father, which has donated more than $100 million. A keen supporter of The Ekka, Tim is also Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology and promotes higher educational opportunities, particularly to students in struggling rural communities. A founding benefactor of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Tim is one of its largest donors. Sitting on numerous boards and trusts for the arts, Tim is a keen collector and donor of art and is making an extraordinary philanthropic contribution to Australia’s arts community.
Twenty five Australian soldiers killed in the Vietnam War never returned home to Australia. Vietnam veteran, Bob Shewring has spent years lobbying governments to bring home the bodies of these soldiers buried overseas after they were killed in the line of duty. Bob established Operation “Bring Them Home” in 2014 and spent countless hours researching war history and legislation. He garnered more than 40,000 signatures through an online petition before the Australian Government announced in May 2015 it would repatriate the bodies from cemeteries in Malaysia and Singapore back home to Australia, providing the next of kin’s agree. Until February 1966, the government required soldiers’ families to pay for their bodies to be repatriated back to Australia. For Bob, this campaign is personal. Twenty five of the 521 Australians killed in the Vietnam War didn’t make it home and Bob’s mate Reg Hillier is one of them. Bob is determined to see these soldiers finally welcomed home, receive full military honours at “one of the biggest ramp ceremonies in Australia’s history” and to right a terrible wrong from the Vietnam War.
Professor Greg Tegart AM FTSE
Scientist and technology advocate
At 86 years of age, Professor Greg Tegart is a leading advocate for smart assistive technologies that give aged and disabled people independence and a better quality of life. Greg’s distinguished career spans research in metallurgy and materials, and high level executive and policy positions in industry, the CSIRO and the federal government. The extent of Greg’s contribution to Australian science and technology policy over four decades is substantial. He led Australia’s initial participation in climate change assessment through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was recognised for his contribution to the awarding of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC. He has been a leader in studies linking technology to the future of society. In recent years, Greg’s world-leading work to promote smart assistive technologies for aged and disability care has enabled many Australians to lead more empowered and independent lives. Greg provides a real-world example of the contribution that older people can make to the Australian community.
Professor Ian Allison AO AAM
A pioneer of Australia's glaciological research program since the 1960s, Professor Ian Allison is acclaimed internationally as a glaciologist, making a significant contribution to climate science. An outstanding contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports on Climate Change, Ian has worked tirelessly to synthesise global research results. He spent many years with the Australian Antarctic Division, ultimately leading the Ice, Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate program. As co-chair of the International Polar Year in 2007-08, Ian drove a coordinated, intense period of observational research activity in the Polar Regions. Ian’s enduring contribution to Antarctic affairs and the Antarctic community has been recognised with awards and accolades, such as the naming of Allison Glacier on Heard Island. Ian’s legacy also includes the work of the many PhD students he has supervised who have, themselves, made significant contributions to science. Ian’s community-mindedness and willingness to push ahead with fresh ideas has helped Australia build an internationally-respected scientific community.
Graham Edwards AM
While serving in Vietnam in 1970, Graham Edwards was hit by an exploding mine. Both his legs had to be amputated, but he never let his disability get the better of him. Returning to civilian life, he battled the aftershocks of war and fought discrimination before moving into public affairs and politics. Spending 14 years of service in the WA Legislative Council, including as a senior minister and nine years in the federal parliament, Graham actively contributed to defence, disability services and veterans’ policy. While juggling his parliamentary responsibilities, Graham devoted many hours to his twin passions: the Paralympic movement and veterans’ rights. Today, as State President of the Returned & Services League of Australia, Graham oversees a membership base of 10,000 people, sits by bedsides, lobbies government for funding and organises large events to commemorate the sacrifice made by many, particularly for the 2015 Centenary of Gallipoli. A board member of the Australian War Memorial, Graham is ensuring that the nation’s war heroes gain the recognition they deserve.
New South Wales
Professor Gordian Fulde
From midnight to dawn, while most people are in bed, Professor Gordian Fulde is presiding over one of Australia's busiest emergency departments. The Director of Emergency at St Vincent's Hospital and Sydney Hospital for more than three decades, Gordian is the longest serving emergency department director in Australia. The doctor on call when disaster strikes, Gordian has seen it all and is passionately outspoken about the scourge of ‘ice’ and alcohol-fuelled violence which delivers a flood of people into Australian hospitals each weekend. While you will occasionally see him appear on Kings Cross ER, Gordian is also actively involved in teaching and training students and staff in many facets of emergency medicine. A member of the Board of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, Gordian also supports many schools and community organisations, sharing his stories of working in an urban warzone, and warning of the dangers of a binge drinking culture, which is overwhelmingly the main cause of injury in Australia’s emergency departments.
Monica Oliphant AO
An inspiring advocate for science and sustainability, Monica Oliphant has influenced the future of energy consumption around the world. Starting out as a laser physicist, she is now recognised internationally as a pioneer in the use of solar photovoltaics and renewable energy. Monica has devoted her long career – much in her own time and without financial reward – to the promotion of renewable energy both in Australia and overseas. As a senior research scientist with the Electricity Trust of South Australia for two decades, Monica undertook research into renewable energy, with her work enabling grid-connected solar and wind power. Globally-recognised as a leader in her field, Monica has shared her knowledge at conferences in many countries and her work has facilitated development of clean energy policies around the world. Volunteering her time on boards and energy associations culminated in the presidency of the International Solar Energy Society. Monica has maintained a lifelong commitment to improving all people’s access, particularly those of lower socio-economic status, to environmentally and economically sustainable energy.
They pose in front of our flag, members break the law, slander minorities, beat women and a slew of other alleged disgusting anti social behaviours - but these "men" are the face of the so called Reclaim Australia group. (UPF)