The founder of a global health company that ensures millions of disadvantaged people get the medicines they need has been named 2019 Victorian Australian of the Year.
Mark Sullivan, of Camberwell, in creating the not-for-profit Medicines Development of Global Health, established a highly effective business model for developing much-needed new medicines.
The company develops medicines based on public health needs, rather than commercial opportunity.
Medicines Development of Global Health was the first Australian biopharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval for a new drug, moxidectin. The medicine treats river blindness, a debilitating illness affecting 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.
The company now plans to manufacture and distribute the drug where it is required.
They are also planning clinical trials to assess moxidectin as a new treatment for the scabies parasite that afflicts up to 70 per cent of Aboriginal babies. The drug may also be an option for the 1.5 billion people affected with other neglected tropical diseases.
The 2019 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients were announced on October 23 at a ceremony at Government House in Melbourne. The other category winners were:
- 2019 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year – Alison Harcourt
- 2019 Victorian Young Australian of the Year – Dr Skye Kinder
- 2019 Victoria’s Local Hero – Carol Matthews
The Victorian award recipients will join other state and territory recipients from around the country as finalists in the national Australian of the Year awards, announced on January 25 in Canberra.
Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau congratulated all the nominees and recipients, praising their contributions.
“The Australian of the Year awards are an important way of recognising the Australians – and Victorians – who contribute so much to every aspect of life in our community,” she said.
“The nominees we celebrate tonight have been chosen from among so many other outstanding Victorians. They all contribute in a unique way, yet they share various qualities: from creativity and kindness to entrepreneurialism and innovation.”
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand said Victoria was the first of eight state and territory awards announcements which would take place over coming weeks.
“Victoria kicks off an exciting time of year when we recognise more than 120 nominees around the country and find out who the state and territory award recipients are – the people who will be in the running for the national Australian of the Year awards,” Ms Brand said.
For more information on the Australian of the Year awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au.
More details on the other Victorian winners:
The 2019 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year is 89-year-old STEM pioneer Alison Harcourt of Kew.
As a woman in mathematics and statistics, Alison’s seminal work from the 1950s onwards was often overlooked. She is now best known for developing integer linear programming, the basis of efficient computer processing. The 1960 paper written with Ailsa Land on the topic has been cited in 3000 academic journal articles. Alison has written numerous papers and is the co-author of three books. She was also one of the first users of CSIRAC, Australia’s first digital computer.
As a statistician, she worked with social scientist Ronald Henderson and economist RJ Harper on what became known on the Melbourne Poverty Survey, Australia’s first systematic, quantitative measure of poverty. Their work formed the basis of the 1972 Royal Commission into poverty.
Alison’s other outstanding work, with fellow statistician Malcolm Clark, on the randomisation of electoral ballot papers led to a change in the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1984.
The 2019 Victorian Young Australian of the Year is 27-year-old Dr Skye Kinder of Bendigo.
Skye has dedicated her medical career to improving the health of marginalised patients throughout Australia.
After witnessing her father travel to Melbourne for specialist appointments, she became committed to easing the travel burden and financial impact of healthcare on rural populations.
While studying, Skye became a passionate advocate for rural health, representing the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) as Rural Health Officer. Through AMSA, she co-founded and chaired the first Rural Health Committee and set up a national Rural Health Summit, creating new opportunities for students in regional areas to participate in advocacy and policy.
Now a doctor, and board member of Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, Skye continues to highlight rural health issues to local, national and international audiences, through her research, ongoing speaking engagements, press appearances, workshops, and articles.
Skye was named Victoria’s Junior Doctor of the Year in 2017 and Bendigo’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2014.
The 2019 Victoria’s Local Hero is bushfire survivor and activist, Carol Matthews of Brunswick.
On February 7, 2009 Carol, Dave and Ellie Matthews experienced an unimaginable tragedy – the death of their 22-year-old son Sam, and the destruction of their home in the Black Saturday bushfires.
Despite her considerable pain, Carol put her grief on hold to advocate for emotional preparedness to be included in bushfire planning and preparation. She has been pivotal in developing a multi-sensory bus to help people understand the effect that high arousal during the chaos of a fire will have on decision making.
Carol has attended many meetings with Victorian Government representatives and supported other community members recovering from the trauma of the bushfire. Carol was also the lead litigant in the class action against the electricity distributor that caused the fire, securing $500 million for survivors – the largest class action settlement in Australian history.
In the face of her own personal loss, she displayed enormous courage to secure a better outcome for bushfire victims.