Queenslanders shining bright at Australian of the Year Awards

Published Thursday, 25 January, 2024 at 07:44 PM

The Honourable Steven Miles

  • Olympic swimming champion Emma McKeon has been named 2024 Young Australian of the Year
  • Outback dinosaur museum operator David Elliott named the country’s Local Hero at awards ceremony
  • The 2024 Australian of the Year Awards were announced at the National Arboretum in Canberra tonight.

Premier Steven Miles has congratulated Queenslanders Emma McKeon and David Elliott on receiving major honours at the 2024 Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra tonight.

Swimming champion Emma McKeon, the most successful Australian Olympian of all time, is the Young Australian of the Year thanks to her inspiring achievements in and out of the pool.

David Elliott picked up the other award given to a Queenslander on the night for his work as the owner-operator of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History which has led the way in outback tourism.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese presented the awards – as well as the Australians of the Year and Senior Australian of the Year – at the National Arboretum in Canberra.

Sydney professors Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, who are curing melanoma, were named Australians of the Year, while Indigenous teacher Yalmay Yunupiŋu is the Senior Australian of the Year.

Quotes to be attributed to Premier Steven Miles:

“On behalf of all Queenslanders, congratulations to Emma and David for this incredible achievement.

“Queensland has taken out half the awards tonight – on par with our best result at the Australian of the Awards in over a decade.

“Emma is a superstar in the pool and an incredible role model for all young Australians.

“Now as the 2024 Young Australian of the Year, alongside her role as a UNICEF Australia ambassador, Emma will continue to use her voice to inspire young people and make our state, and nation, a better place.

“David’s dedication to the revival of Australia’s palaeontology field and creating tourism opportunities for rural Queensland over the last two decades is to be commended.

“Being recognised as Australia’s Local Hero will create more opportunities for Outback Queensland and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History to reach more visitors.

“Emma and David will both be fierce champions of the Queensland spirit in their roles. I wish them all the best for 2024.”

Biography - Emma McKeon

Emma McKeon AM is the most successful Australian Olympian of all time – a title she claimed before her 28th birthday. She comes from a strong family of Australian swimmers. In fact, her father, uncle, brother and mother have all represented Australia.

Back in 2012, Emma just missed out on being chosen for the London Olympics. She took a break, but rediscovered her passion and went on to make a splash at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she claimed six medals from six races.

At the 2020 Summer Olympics, Emma became the first female swimmer, and the second woman in history, to win seven medals in a single Olympics. She has also broken Commonwealth Games, Olympic and World records.

In 2022, Emma was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2023 she was named Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year.

Biography - David Elliott 

Co-founder, Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History

David Elliott’s chance discovery of a dinosaur fossil during routine sheep mustering in 1999 led to the revival of Australia’s paleontology field – and the creation of a palaeo-tourism industry that put outback Queensland on the map.

David’s initial fossil discovery was followed by others. As palaeontologists began to return to the region to investigate, David and his wife Judy founded the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in 2002 as a not-for-profit charity.

The Museum first operated on the couple’s property, where they conducted dinosaur digs and built an impressive collection of fossils. Later, it was moved onto donated land.

Today, it houses Australia’s most significant collection of fossils from the country’s largest dinosaurs. A major tourist attraction, it serves as a centre for Australian paleontological research and discovery in Australia.

David was recognised for his contributions to science with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2015.

For more information about the awards visit www.australianoftheyear.org.au


Media Contact: Courtney Thompson - 0433 585 570