The Australian of the Year for 2011 is Simon McKeon, a high-flying investment banker who decided to work part-time to dedicate himself to social causes at home and abroad.
The Victorian businessman is a leading social entrepreneur who showed business and philanthropy could go hand in hand. “His lifelong efforts to support Australian and international charities have earned him great admiration and respect in the community,” the Australia Day Council said.
Mr McKeon hopes to spend the year inspiring others to help out the not-for-profit sector, particularly corporations which, he said, needed to do more to help the community. "There are many ways in which corporates nowadays can actually share their facilities, their expertise, their people and, of course, their people. Of course, they can do more."
McKeon is director of the Global Poverty Project, chairman of Business for Millennium Development and is involved with Red Dust Role Models, which works with remote indigenous communities.
A multiple sclerosis sufferer, he was the founding chairman of MS Research Australia. At one stage, he was paralyzed from the hip down and endured blindness for a period of time. He said it gave him the inspiration to keep fighting for what mattered.