Melbourne businessman and philanthropist Simon McKeon was announced the Australian of the Year.
The 55-year-old had a successful career as lawyer and investment banker before shifting his focus to encouraging the corporate community to help those in need.
Simon McKeon is currently chairman of the CSIRO and is also involved in Red Dust Role Models, which works with remote Indigenous communities.
And back in 1993 he set the world record for speed sailing in inland Victoria.
Since 1960 the Australian of the Year Award has been part of the celebrations surrounding Australia Day (26 January), during which time the award has grown steadily in significance to become Australia’s pre-eminent award.
The Australian of the Year announcement has become a very prominent part of the annual Australia Day celebrations. The official announcement has grown to become a major public event, with thousands of onlookers witnessing the televised ceremony in Canberra. The award offers an insight into Australian identity, reflecting the nation’s evolving relationship with world, the role of sport in Australian culture, the impact of multiculturalism, and the special status of Australia’s Indigenous people. It has also provoked spirited debate about the fields of endeavour that are most worthy of public recognition. In this way the awards have advanced a national conversation.