Life Begins At » Australian of the Year 2014

Australian of the Year 2014

Role model, youth advocate and footballer Adam Goodes has been named Australian of the Year 2014 with Fred Chaney AO announced as Senior Australian of the Year.

The Young Australian of the Year 2014  is 21 year old Paralympic swimmer Jacqueline Freney and Australia’s Local Hero 2014 is Tim Conolan of Melbourne.

The awards were announced last night in Canberra and presented by Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP at a celebration event outside Parliament House.

Adam Goodes, was honoured for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society. An Andyamathanha man, Adam is a champion Australian Rules football player with the Sydney Swans. He holds an elite place in AFL history, winning two Brownlow Medals and two premierships. The 34 year old footballer is a four-time All-Australian, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, and has represented Australia in the International Rules Series.

Together with his cousin and former team mate Michael O’Loughlin, Adam established the Go Foundation which empowers the next generation of Indigenous role models in all walks of life. Adam co-chairs the foundation, focused on promoting education, employment and healthy lifestyles.

The Senior Australian of the Year 2014, Fred Chaney AOhas been recognised for his commitment to reconciliation and human rights.

Fred’s decades of hard work in support of often marginalised people has never faltered. As founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an early advocate for Aboriginal voting rights in 1961 and for the 1967 referendum, Fred’s contribution has included helping establish the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia to his national role as 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 theGraham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which supports Indigenous young people to reach their potential.

Now 72 years old, Fred’s long history of public service is rooted in his fierce commitment to social justice and a belief in the inherent equality of people. In all his leadership roles, Fred inspires others to work collaboratively, respectfully and ambitiously to overcome the barriers that inhibit people’s full economic and social participation in Australian society.

Jacqueline Freney, Young Australian of the Year, was born with cerebral palsy but this has has not stopped her from achieving great success in the sporting arena. Following in the footsteps of her swimming family, Jacqueline set herself the goal to become a competitive swimmer. In 2012, Jacqueline won a remarkable eight gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, becoming Australia’s most successful Paralympian at a single Games. Two of Jacqueline’s performances were under world record time. She won a gold medal for every event in which she competed and her gold medal haul was greater than any other competitor from any country. Her success earned her the crown of Australia’s 2012 Paralympian of the Year.

Jacqueline’s indomitable spirit is not confined to the swimming pool. She is actively involved in the wider community, working with Swimming Australia as a motivational speaker to help other people with disabilities reach their potential. Jacqueline is an inspirational role model and positive proof that, with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

Australia’s Local Hero, Tim Conolan  established the  charity TLC for kids to make a difference to children in hospital and undergoing medical treatment. TLC for kids was started in 1998 by Tim and the charity has now assisted more than four million sick children and their families.

After a fearless entry into the world of entrepreneurship at age 20, Tim was asked to attend a cancer support group camp as a motivational speaker. It was there that he met some seriously ill children who were to change the course of his life. Wanting to make a difference, Tim established TLC for kids with his long-term partner, Ana. With passion and an infectious positivity, Tim has spearheaded the charity’s remarkable growth.

The Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Adam Gilchrist, paid tribute to all the finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards 2014 and congratulated the recipients.

“The finalists are an extraordinary group of Australians who represent their States and Territory with distinction and who show us all what is possible in our country,” said Adam.  “In Adam, Fred, Jacqueline and Tim we have fellow Australians who live their values every day, who have achieved great success and also use their success to help others and make a difference. 

Senior Australian of the Year Fred Chaney AO. Photo courtesy of the National Australia Day Council
Senior Australian of the Year Fred Chaney AO. Photo courtesy of the National Australia Day Council

“They inspire us to be better Australians and their contributions make Australia a better place to live.”

The Australian of the Year Award recipients were selected from more than 3000 nominations submitted by the public.

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for 35 years.  Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, congratulated the 2014 award recipients.

“The Australian of the Year Awards are a great honour, made even more special because everyday Australians nominate their peers for recognition,” said Mr Narev.

“The award recipients for 2014 represent the very best of us. They are achievers whose passion and commitment bring about change for the benefit of this great nation.”

Adam Goodes, Fred Chaney, Jacqueline Freney and Tim Conolan will take part in Australia Day activities by attending the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra tomorrow morning.  They will then travel to Melbourne to attend the men’s final at the Australian Open in the evening.