Injury research pioneer Alan Mackay-Sim has been announced as Australian of the Year 2017.
Beating out seven other finalists, such as the well-known NSW Australian Of The Year and former child soldier/current lawyer Deng Adut, Queenslander Mackay-Sim recieved the top honour for his work in spinal cord injuries that, in a world first, helped restore mobility to quadriplegic man Darek Fidyka in 2014.
Receiving the aware, Mackay-Sim was equal parts humble and charming:
“I’m so proud and shocked and horrified to be the 2017 Australian of the Year,”“It’s an unbelievable honour and in accepting it, I want to deeply thank and acknowledge all my friends and colleagues and students, the teams of people who have worked with me, their late nights, their hard work, their great ideas have led me to stand here in front of you and I dedicate this to them.”
He also used his acceptance speech to push for greater funding for young scientists and highlight the importance of scientists who, unlike certain science-denying public servants, have a longer view beyond “the political horizon“.
Other winners tonight included Australia’s Local Hero Vicki Jellie, who has dedicated her life to raising funds for cancer services, Senior Australian of the Year Sister Anne Gardiner AM, who has spent 62 years supporting and preserving Tiwi culture on Bathurst Island, and Young Australian of the Year Paul Vasileff, a famed SA fashion designer.