By Renee Bogatko, Image Credit – australianoftheyear.org.au
Biomedical scientist Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, whose research helped restore mobility in a quadriplegic man, is this year’s Australian of the Year.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented Professor Mackay-Sim with the trophy at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday night.
“I’m so proud and shocked and horrified to be the 2017 Australian of the Year, it’s an unbelievable honour,” Professor Mackay-Sim said.
The award recognises the inspirational scientist’s lifetime of dedicated research and international leadership, which has led to ground breaking advances in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could treat spinal cord injury and reduce the cost and reduce the suffering and increase the productivity of all of those people with spinal cord injuries,” he said in his acceptance speech.
In 2014, Professor Mackay-Sim’s research played a key role in the world’s first successful restoration of mobility in a quadriplegic man – a breakthrough described as the scientific equivalent to the moon landing!
Sister Anne Gardiner, an 85-year-old Catholic nun, was named Senior Australian of the Year for her work promoting Tiwi culture and supporting the local community on Bathurst Island, where she moved when she was 22.
Community fundraising champion Vicki Jellie is Australia’s new Local Hero.
Vicki’s been recognised for setting up Peter’s Project – a group dedicated to fighting for better cancer services, which has helped secure millions in state and federal funding.
26-year-old fashion designer Paul Vasileff, whose creations have been showcased on runways and worn by celebrities around the world, was named Young Australian of the Year.
A massive shout out to the ACT finalists Alan Tongue, Stasia Dabrowski, Dick Telford and Heidi Prowse.
Canberra’s proud of you!