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Social Entrepreneur Named Australian of the Year

25 January 2011 at 7:46 pm
Lina Caneva
Victorian social entrepreneur and philanthropist, Simon McKeon has been named Australian of the Year 2011.

Lina Caneva | 25 January 2011 at 7:46 pm


Social Entrepreneur Named Australian of the Year
25 January 2011 at 7:46 pm

Victorian social entrepreneur and philanthropist, Simon McKeon has been named Australian of the Year 2011 – pledging to promote the Not for Profit sector over the next 12 months.

Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has congratulated McKeon thanking him for his ongoing contributions to social causes.

Queensland solo sailor Jessica Watson was named Young Australian of the Year 2011, while NSW disability advocate Professor Ron McCallum AO was announced as Senior Australian of the Year 2011 and NSW suicide prevention advocate Donald Ritchie OAM is Australia’s Local Hero 2011.

The Australian of the Year 2011, Simon McKeon, is a leading social entrepreneur and prominent businessman who demonstrates how business and philanthropy go hand in hand.

His lifelong efforts to support Australian and international charities has earned him great admiration and respect in the community.

In an interview with The Age newspaper, McKeon said Australians should just reach out and connect. He said "I am not in any way seeking to have people do anything out of guilt. It is simply not about that. You can pick things that work for you.''

During the interview he praised the work of Pro Bono Australia urging people to find the right connection through our website that he says provides the most comprehensive map of Australia's Not for Profit sector. 

The 55 year old from Brighton, Victoria has enjoyed a successful career as an investment banker and he has equally committed himself to engagement with the community sector in an effort to maximise the impact he can bring about for the benefit of people in need.

With community service high on his agenda, in 1994 McKeon transitioned into a part time role as Executive Chairman of Macquarie Group’s Melbourne office, enabling him to support a range of causes and organisations, including joining the board of World Vision Australia.

McKeon is currently Chairman of the CSIRO and Business for Millennium Development, which encourages business to engage with the developing world.

He recently retired as Founding Chairman of MS Research Australia and Founding President of the Federal Government’s Takeover Panel. His association with World Vision International continues and he is involved with the Global Poverty Project and Red Dust Role Models, which works with remote Indigenous communities. McKeon’s achievements also include a World Speed Sailing Record with crewman Tim Daddo.  

Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd praised McKeon for his work as Chairman for Business for Millennium Development and in promoting the role of business and in reducing poverty in developing countries.

Rudd says McKeon's work has highlighted to Australian companies that there are creative options available to them to transform the lives of those most in need in developing countries.

He says his work within the private sector demonstrates that business?led growth and microfinancing are amongst the most effective tools in lifting people out of poverty, and building communities capable of managing their own sustainable development.

McKeon has said he will use his role as Australian of the Year to champion the cause of the Australian Not for Profit sector.

Disability advocate Professor Ron McCallum AO has been named the 2011 Senior Australian of the Year. 

Senior Australian of the Year Professor Ron McCallum AO


Professor McCallum is a professor of law and a former Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, making him the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship at any university in Australia.

McCallum is the Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Chair of Radio for the Print Handicapped of New South Wales Co-operative, and is one of two Deputy Chairs of Vision Australia.

McCallum has vigorously advocated for equal rights for working people across the world and was the first President of the Australian Labour Law Association from 2001 to 2009.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, congratulated McCallum on the award, saying he has an exceptional record in advocating for the rights of people with disability.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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