(image credit: Australian of the Year Awards)

The Australian of the Year awards first started in 1960 and like many Australians I watched the announcement of the winners on the ABC TV on the 25th of January. If you are curious about the process go to the website to learn more: 

Home of the Australian of the Year Awards

To quote the website:

The selection criteria are:

  • Significant contribution to the Australian community and nation
  • An inspirational role model for the Australian community
  • Demonstrated excellence in their field
  • The Local Hero award acknowledges a significant contribution at local community level

Like some others watching the awards I shed a tear more than once but also felt great elation from the stories being shared by nominees and winners. What a truly inspiring group of people. 

The Australian of the Year was jointly won by Professor Georgina Long AO and Professor Richard Scolyer AO for their persistent and now ground breaking work in melanoma treatment. They have found a way to make melanoma a curable disease as opposed to fatal, and in doing so, saved thousands of lives. 

In June 2023, when Richard was diagnosed with incurable grade 4 brain cancer, he and Georgina developed a series of world-first treatments based on their melanoma breakthroughs. As I write this there are some positive signs for Richard but there is still a long way to go. By undertaking an experimental treatment with risk of shortening his life, he has advanced the understanding of brain cancer and is benefiting future patients. Now that’s inspirational.

In a world where it can sometimes seem that self interest is driving the behaviour of so many people (often in roles where we expect better, but are regularly disappointed) how great would it be if each and every one of us paused occasionally to think “how can I be just a little bit like Georgina Long and Richard Scolyer and their fellow winners?”

So why am I writing about this? Well, it struck me that the criteria for the Australian of the Year could well describe a good accountant. Have another look at the bullet points above.

  • How are you contributing to your local community, or the nation?
  • Are you an inspirational role model for others around you? 
  • What are you doing to demonstrate your excellence as an accountant? 

During the COVID pandemic we saw accountants making a significant contribution to support their clients and community. Many accountants’ contribution to the community goes on year in year out in ways such as serving as Treasurer or on the board of community organisations and not for profit groups, or providing advice for those who cannot afford it.

As proud Australians let us all strive to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be and to contribute to the community we live in and the nation we are proud to call home. We might not win an award, but we just might make the world a better place.