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Australia Day 2011

  • January 26th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

jess-watson.jpgJess Watson from Buderim in Queensland (picture), the girl who sailed single-handedly around the world at 16, has been named Young Australian of the Year.

The national day commemorations also saw the social entrepreneur, Simon McKeon, named Australian of the Year, and hundreds of others recognised for their personal distinctions and service.

Two sets of awards exist, the commemorative “Australian of the Year” series, and the more formal Order of Australia citations which took over from the British system of Sirs, Dames and OBEs in the 1970s.

As the country slowly got up from  the shock of catastrophic floods (still menacing much of rural Victoria), congratulations were extended to the leaders being recognised this year, in public service, arts and culture, sports and defence.

Mr McKeon, 55, of Brighton in Melbourne, is a millionaire executive from the Macquarie Bank who has diverted much of his career time and private means to work in the not-for-profit sector.

As a board member of World Vision Australia, and in many other roles, he works to help others in need, notably in developing countries.

“Others in need” are the concern also of Donald Ritchie OAM, 84, the Australia Day Local Hero of 2011 who has worked very directly in suicide prevention over many years, at the ocean cliff-top in Sydney known as the Gap – close to his home in Vaucluse.

His habit has been to talk with people he meets near the site, tragic for the number of suicides that occur there, inviting them for a cup of tea while he has a listen – in the process saving, by estimate, over 160 lives.

Professor Ron McCallum AO of Artarmon in Sydney, named Senior Australian of the Year, a blind man, is an industrial lawyer and campaigner for human rights.

In the Order of Australia Awards, the most senior rank, of Companion, has three new members:

Peter Costello, the Treasurer in the Howard government, (now a member of the Independent Advisory Board of the World Bank, on corruption issues); the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, and the Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie.


See EUAustralia Online: “Weekend quote: Jess Watson”, 16.5.10; “Sports: one snooker champion, one top sailor, 6.5.10; also “Laura puts to sea”, 5.8.10; “Another Jess? …”, 28.7.10.

See full list of Honours: “Australian Honours Lists”, 26.1.11,   Governor General, Canberra., (26.1.11).

It’s An Honour: Australia Day Celebrations, (home), 26.1.11., (26.1.11).

National Australia Day Council, Canberra, (home),, (26.1.11); Australian of the Year, Awards 2011, 26.1.11,, (26.1.11).