Mental health campaigner wins Australian of the Year

Mr McGorry thinks it’s a sign of changing times that he’s been chosing as the state’s candidate for Australian of the Year.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd paid tribute to the profound effect of Professor McGorry’s work, and thanked him for raising awareness of the major issue.

“The incredible influence of his work, the number of young Australians and their families whose lives have been improved, and the value of his contribution to the nation cannot ever fully be measured” Mr Rudd said.

“With this award, we recognise that we have in Professor McGorry a leader whose drive, compassion, and commitment to understanding and treating youth mental illness has helped shaped not only lives, but our national approach to mental health intervention, prevention and treatment”.

“He is truly a worthy recipient, and I congratulate him on being named Australian of the Year 2010 this evening”.

Mr McGorry, 57, is executive director of Melbourne’s Orygen Youth Health, which has pioneered a youth-focused approach to treating mental health and is Australia’s largest mental health research centre.

“People are finally realising mental health is one of the hidden .. really big ticket public health items and it’s been neglected seriously until just about now,” Professor McGorry told AAP.

Western Australia’ Trooper Mark Donaldson VC was named Young Australian of the Year 2010 while South Australian cook and restaurateur Maggie Beer was named Senior Australian of the Year.

Meanwhile NSW food rescuer Ronni Kahn was named as Australia’s Local Hero.

The Prime Minister presented each recipient with a handmade glass award and praised their achievements.

“For the past 50 years, the Australian of the Year Awards program has honoured those among us who inspire us, and do us proud as a nation” said the Prime Minister

“This year I am again awed by the achievements and contributions of the award recipients, who demonstrate that greatness comes in many forms and all Australians have the potential for greatness within us”.