Cancer researcher Professor Bruce Robinson AM has been named WA’s Australian of the Year 2014 for his world leading study of asbestos related cancer.
WA Governor Malcolm McCusker congratulated the 2014 WA’s Australian of the Year Award recipients at an awards ceremony at Government House yesterday.
Professor Robinson, 63, leads a big research team at the University of WA's School of Medicine and Pharmacology which is studying cancer immunology and asbestos diseases. He and his team have been responsible for many world-first breakthroughs, including the first blood test for mesothelioma.
After establishing medical clinics focused on patients’ emotional and physical needs, Professor Robinson initiated the highly successful Breaking Bad News course to help doctors with difficult conversations.
He is also a vocal advocate for fathering and has produced a number of books and DVDs on the topic, and also directs the Fathering Project at the UWA which aims to connect children with father figures.
A passionate volunteer who has donated many hours of service to rural Indonesian medical clinics, Bruce’s personal philosophy is to turn compassion into action.
WA Senior Australian
Reconciliation advocate Fred Chaney AO, was awarded WA's Senior Australian of the Year 2014.
Now 72 years of age, Mr Chaney has long worked to support often marginalised people.
As founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an early advocate for Aboriginal voting rights in 1961 and for the 1967 referendum, Mr Chaney's contribution has included helping establish the Aboriginal Legal Service. He was Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
For many years, Fred was Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal and, more recently, is Chair of Desert Knowledge Australia and chaired the Board of Central Desert Native Title services. He was instrumental in establishing the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which supports Indigenous young people to reach their potential.
WA Young Australian
WA's Young Australian of the Year 2014 is 25-year-old Derby resident John van Bockxmeer.
While working as a doctor in the remote Pilbara region, Dr Bockxmeer had an epiphany. Looking out the window of the hospital, he saw indigenous children kicking a tin can around the dusty oval and he knew it was time for change.
He started recycling sports equipment in the city, packing a boot full of gear and driving the 3500 kilometres from Albany to Kununurra to deliver it.
Despite a series of successes, John realised that communities needed more than just sports equipment to stay healthy, and so he founded Fair Game, a charity that assists thousands of people in Indigenous and migrant communities with recycled equipment, sport, fitness and wellness programs and capacity-building through health education.
A natural leader, John inspires those around him through the breadth and quality of his achievements. He coordinates a unique mentoring program for Fair Game volunteers and represents excellence in the fields of medicine and community development at the local, national and international levels.
WA Local Hero
Denise Smith-Ali has been awarded Western Australia’s Local Hero 2014 for her tireless work as a linguist.
A Noongar woman from the South West, Denise, 54, lives in South Bunbury and is the custodian of two clans - Kaneang and Wilman of the Noongar Nation.
Denise has overcome many challenges to become the only Noongar linguist in Australia and has dedicated her life to reclaiming and reviving the language of the Noongar people.
Denise has always been interested in her culture and language. Her early focus on educating young people and engaging them in their linguistic roots has shifted to documenting creation and ancestral stories that relate to country.
Today, Denise produces resources to support Noongar language education in traditional and contemporary contexts, records and documents ancestral language and knowledge, and supports community awareness programs.
She is also working on a cultural mapping project using Google Earth. Without Denise’s contribution, the Noongar language may no longer be active.
Denise not only volunteers with the Noongar community in Perth, she donates her time and expertise to Aboriginal language communities throughout Australia, helping them to keep their languages alive.
The Western Australia award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on January 25 in Canberra.