NOMINEES ANNOUNCED FOR 2018 NSW AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS

    08 November 2017

    NOMINEES ANNOUNCED FOR 2018 NSW AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS

    Medical scientists, inventors, a surf therapist, a teacher, rural community leaders, a Playschool legend and cycling cancer fundraisers are among the nominees for the 2018 NSW Australian of the Year Awards.

    The NSW Award nominees announced today are in the running to be named NSW Australian of the Year, NSW Senior Australian of the Year, NSW Young Australian of the Year and NSW Local Hero.

    The 2018 NSW Award nominees are:

    2018 NSW AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
    Geoff Coombes, Gary Bertwistle, and Samantha Hollier-James – Cancer fundraisers & Tour de Cure founders (Northern Beaches Sydney)
    Professor Peter Macdonald AM – Cardiologist & medical pioneer (Maroubra)
    Walter Mikac – Gun control campaigner & children’s champion (Byron Bay)
    Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons – Professor in quantum physics (Sydney)

    2018 NSW SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
    Reverend Bill Crews AM – Humanitarian (Sydney)
    Dr Catherine Hamlin AC – Pioneering surgeon (Sydney)
    Brian Myerson – Organ transplant advocate (Rose Bay)
    Don Spencer OAM – Singer, songwriter & musical educator (Sydney)

    2018 NSW YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
    Macinley Butson – Scientist & inventor (Wollongong)
    Connor McLeod – Human rights & disability campaigner (Sydney)
    Joel Pilgrim – Mental health champion & surf therapist (Sydney)
    Ben Wang – Inventor (Sydney)

    2018 NSW LOCAL HERO
    Jay Allen – Melanoma crusader (Southern Highlands)
    Ian Burns – Community supporter (Dubbo)
    Alistair Ferguson – Indigenous community leader (Bourke)
    Eddie Woo – Mathematics teacher (Sydney)

    The NSW Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero Award recipients will be announced on Monday 13 November 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

    The NSW Award recipients will then join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around Australia in the national Awards, which will be held in Canberra on 25 January 2018.

    National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said the NSW nominees are among 130 great Australians being recognised at the state level in the Australian of the Year Awards.

    "The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society," said Ms Barbour.

    “The NSW Award nominees are an extraordinarily diverse group of people, yet all are giving in their own way. Their stories remind us we all have the power to help others, to bring about real change, to improve lives, to create and to bring joy.”

    Commonwealth Bank has been a major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years.

    “We are proud to support the Australian of the Year Awards, a program that celebrates the achievements of inspirational Australians,” said Mr Ian Narev, Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Bank.

    “Thank you to all of the amazing nominees for your contribution to our nation.”

    For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au

    Information on the Australian of the Year Awards process can be found here: https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/nominate/frequently-asked-questions

    Information on the members of the selection panel can be found here: australianoftheyear.org.au


    Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or nicole@mediaopps.com.au

    BIOGRAPHIES

    NEW SOUTH WALES - NOMINEES - AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

    Geoff Coombes, Gary Bertwistle and Samantha Hollier-James
    Cancer fundraisers and Tour de Cure founders
    Three friends determined to find a cure for cancer, Geoff Coombes, Gary Bertwistle, and Samantha Hollier-James established the now iconic Tour de Cure in 2007. Drawing on their professional backgrounds in branding, marketing and events, the trio decided to create a life-changing bike ride to raise money for pioneering Australian cancer research, support and prevention projects. The first Tour de Cure, from Brisbane to Sydney, brought together 29 people and raised just over $400,000. Today, Tour de Cure’s signature Tour is considered a ‘bucket list’ experience that raises more than $2.5 million annually. As the charity expands, Tour de Cure hosts a calendar of cycling tours and non-lycra fundraising gala events. Geoff, Gary and Samantha have also established a kids’ cancer prevention project that has encouraged more than 95,000 Australian school children, to be fit, healthy and happy. Tour de Cure has raised $32 million to fund 266 world-class Australian cancer research, support and prevention projects, that has resulted in 21 breakthroughs.

    Professor Peter Macdonald AM
    Cardiologist and medical pioneer
    A medical director at St Vincent's Hospital and a revered professor at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Peter Macdonald has dedicated his life to helping the 3.7 million Australians with heart disease. A giant in the scientific world, Peter is the man behind what has been described as the most important global advance in heart transplantation since the early 1980s. In a world first, Peter and his research team discovered how to successfully transplant a ‘dead’ heart that had stopped beating – using preservation fluid developed in the laboratory and a machine that allows the heart to beat outside the body. Peter’s ‘heart in a box’ will spare countless lives around the world by increasing the number of transplants that can be performed by at least 30 per cent. Peter has mentored dozens of postgraduate students, published over 300 research papers and is actively striving to 'close the gap' in health inequality by providing outreach services to remote Indigenous communities.

    Walter Mikac
    Gun control campaigner and children’s champion
    After his wife and two young daughters were gunned down at the infamous Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Walter Mikac showed incredible strength of character to fight for tighter gun control. His lobbying of the Australian Government led to a national buyback scheme with more than 640,000 weapons surrendered. Australia has not had another mass shooting since Port Arthur. A year after losing his family, Walter and a small group of friends established the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in honour of his daughters, to help protect children from violence and bullying. In the last 20 years, Walter and the Foundation have reached more than two million school children and their families, with programs in one third of Australian schools and 1,500 public libraries. The Foundation also supports 10,000 children in refuges and foster homes every year. With unshakable positivity and quiet determination, Walter has used his personal tragedy to make Australia a safer place for everyone, especially children.

    Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons
    Professor in quantum physics
    One of the world’s top scientists, Professor Michelle Simmons has pioneered research that could lead to a quantum leap in computing. Since arriving in Australia from Britain 18 years ago, Michelle has transformed the University of NSW Quantum Physics Department into a world leader in advanced computer systems. In 2012, Michelle and her team created the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, along with the world’s thinnest wire. At the forefront of what she calls the “space race of the computing era”, Michelle aims to build a quantum computer able to solve problems in minutes that would otherwise take thousands of years. Such a discovery has the potential to revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence and more. An evangelist for Australian scientific research and a role model to young scientists everywhere, Michelle actively encourages all students – girls and boys – to dream big, challenge themselves and to achieve ambitious goals in science.

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