Morcombes, Queensland's Australian of the Year

Denise and Bruce Morcombe at this year's Day for Daniel on the Sunshine Coast

Premier Anna Bligh tonight congratulated the Queensland recipients of the 2012 Australian of the Year Awards.
Premier Bligh said the recipients represented the best of Queensland.
“The Queensland Australians of the Year – Bruce and Denise Morcombe – have experienced more heartache than any parent should ever have to endure.
“But they used their love for their son Daniel to educate children and families across Queensland about child safety.
“Their work is truly amazing and inspiring.”
There are four categories in the prestigious awards program: Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero.
The Queensland award recipients are:

  • Australian of the Year: Bruce and Denise Morcombe for their work in raising child safety awareness through the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.
  • Senior Australian of the Year: David Williamson AO for his work in enhancing the arts and entertaining all Australians as a successful playwright.

 

  • Young Australian of the Year: Chris Raine for his contribution to helping change the drinking culture among young Australians through his organisation Hello Sunday Morning.

 

  • Local Hero: Doug Hislop for his act of bravery in saving lives during the Queensland floods.

Ms Bligh said: “These awards are a great honour, and I congratulate all of our finalists and recipients for their commitment and contribution to the State of Queensland.
“Their strong sense of community and willingness to act is a trait to be celebrated and recognised,” said Premier Bligh.
The Queensland award recipients will join recipients from other states and territories as finalists for the national awards.
The national awards will be announced by The Honourable Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia in Canberra on 25 January 2012.

ENDS
Recipients’ biographies are attached with this media release or available to download from http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/recipients/
Media contact: Premier’s Office 3224 4500
For further information or to arrange an interview on behalf of the National Australia Day Council please contact: Nicole Browne at Nicole@mediaopps.com.au or telephone 02 9954 7677 or 0414 673 762.
Biographies:
Bruce and Denise Morcombe, Child protection advocates
Bruce and Denise Morcombe are the parents of 13-year-old Queenslander Daniel Morcombe, who was tragically last seen alive eight years ago. In the 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 have now established the Daniel Morcombe Foundation which is 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 Day for Daniel, a national day of action to educate children about personal safety, and an associated event Ride for Daniel which covers 50 kms of the Sunshine Coast. The foundation also provides financial support to grieving or suffering children. It may be for school fees, sporting equipment, computer, holiday, school uniforms , books, counselling etc. The Foundation Red DVD offers 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
David Williamson is undoubtedly Australia’s most successful and well known playwright, producing an extensive body of work that includes 43 plays over 40 years. His work has provided employment for hundreds of Australian actors and directors over the years and taken more than $20 million at the box office in Sydney alone. 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 three decades. David rose to prominence in the early 1970s, with works such as Don’s Party (later turned into a film) and The Removalists. He also collaborated on the screenplays for celebrated Australian films, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. Major works 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 the Professor of Surgery at the University of Sydney, Dr Mohammed Khadra. It explores the burden of the cost of health in the last month of a person’s life. David has received 12 Writer’s Guild script awards and five Australian Film Institute screenplay awards.
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
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 give up alcohol for three, six or 12 months at a time. Chris’ goal for the organisation is to break his generation’s unhealthy obsession with binge drinking. While working at an advertising agency on an anti-alcohol campaign he first became interested in communicating to young people the adverse effects of excessive alcohol. In January 2009, Chris decided to abstain from alcohol for a year and began writing a blog to record his journey. The Hello Sunday Morning blog and website are now influencing participants aged from 18 to 73 to reconsider their drinking habits. To change Australia’s drinking culture, Chris says young people need to believe in an alternative that will improve their lives, provide a sense of purpose and help build meaningful relationships. HSM has received major funding from The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, along with the Brisbane City Council and the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Organisation. The not-for-profit organisation has so far helped more than 2,250 people share their short-term abstinence experience. Chris has already made a huge impact in combating the problem and he now intends to take the program to students in universities around Australia and New Zealand.
AUSTRALIA’S LOCAL HERO
Doug Hislop, Queensland floods rescuer (Hemmant)
During the 2011 Queensland floods, tugboat owner, Doug Hislop showed extreme bravery in using his tugboat to stop a partially submerged 300-metre walkway weighing more than 1,000 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 nearby infrastructure. Doug and a friend fired up Doug’s 50-foot tugboat Mavis and travelled half a kilometre up the flooded watercourse to intercept the walkway. The conditions on the Brisbane River at 4 am that morning were treacherous, with the surging river moving at about 10-12 knots, well above its standard 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 an d a nearby boat marina prevent serious additional damage. By putting himself at risk to help others, Doug became a symbol of community spirit and mateship.