Australia Day celebrates all that is great about this nation. This includes applauding the individuals among us who go above and beyond to serve our communities. This year we celebrate two of our own, former Federal Young Nationals President Judy Brewer and Professor Minas Coroneo, who are both recipients of the coveted Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
Judy Brewer began her life in advocacy early, holding positions in the Young Nationals' secretariat before becoming the Federal President in 1987. As a long term supporter of the Young Nationals, Judy was invited to speak as an advocate for autism awareness at the NSW Young Nationals Annual Conference last year in Corowa. Judy passionately presented her journey into the Young Nationals, which formed a foundation in advocacy that grew to encompass autism awareness.
Now based in Mudgegonga, Victoria, Judy was recognised for distinguished service to people with a disability, particularly to those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, to refugees living in rural areas, to women, and to education.
The Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), she is also a regular speaker and writer on issues relating to families caring for family members with special needs. With active involvement in a number of autism and carer organisations as well as life membership to Autism Spectrum Australia, founder of Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia and convenor of the Autism Future Leaders program, she was awarded the Asia Pacific Autism Award in 2013.
Raised in the Hunter as son of local café owners in Muswellbrook and Scone, Professor Minas Coroneo became involved in the National Party in 2001, and has served as Vice-Chairman of the Metropolitan Branch. Minas has been awarded the AO for his distinguished service to ophthalmology, the medical study and treatment of the eye. Most notably he has been acknowledged for his continual research and development of innovative surgical technologies and devices, and for his focus on eye health in regional and indigenous communities.
Minas has devoted his adult life to caring for those with eye disease, and researching innovative prevention measures, as well as surgical technologies and devices. Following in Professor Fred Hollows footsteps Minas became Chairman of the Eye Clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital. He is also Director of the Genetic Eye Foundation, a charity that focuses on hereditary eye disease. As the recipient of numerous awards, and with a special interest in the pathological effects of sunlight on the eye and the development of new technologies and ophthalmic devices, Minas has become one of Australia’s leading ophthalmologists.
Reflecting on the careers of Judy and Minas, it is clear they have both devoted their lives to helping those in need, ensuring all Australians have access to the care and services they deserve. Their values resemble that of the National Party, and acknowledgement on Australia Day is a fitting reward to a life of service. The National Party is indeed lucky to have such passionate voices in our midst.