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Richard Scolyer and Georgina Long named Australian of the Year

District staff recognised with honours in Australia Day Awards.

A woman and a man holding an award smiling, standing next to the Prime Minister of Australia
SydneyConnect Image: Professor Georgina Long, Professor Richard Scolyer presented with the Australian of the Year by the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

Professor Richard Scolyer AO and Professor Georgina Long AO have been named the 2024 Australians of the Year.   

Co-medical directors of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor Scolyer and Professor Long, have long-standing ties with Sydney Local Health District including as members of the Sydney Research Council. 

Professor Scolyer is a senior staff specialist with the RPA Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology Department, where he first joined as a registrar in 1998 and among his many national and international accolades, was awarded the RPA Research Medal in 2016.  

The pair were named 2024 NSW Australians of the Year in November for their world-leading research into advanced melanoma and advocacy for sun-safe behaviour and cancer prevention which has saved thousands of lives.  

Dr Teresa Anderson AM, District Chief Executive, said the award was a well-deserved recognition of their pioneering research. 

“Richard and Georgina’s immunotherapy approach, which activates a patient’s immune system, has significantly increased melanoma survival rates,” she said. 

“Their work is both outstanding and inspirational and we are so proud of their achievements and to have them as part of our Sydney Local Health District family.” 

After Richard was diagnosed with a devastating glioblastoma brain cancer  last June, he and Georgina adapted their breakthrough melanoma research to develop a series of world-first treatments to apply to Richard’s brain cancer. 

Richard became the first person with brain cancer to have pre-surgery combination immunotherapy. 

The experimental treatment, which risks shortening his life, is advancing the understanding of brain cancer and will benefit future brain cancer patients and is a journey closely followed by many

District staff in various roles and partners were also honoured with the Order of Australia and meritorious awards for their distinguished and conspicuous service in the 2024 Australia Day Honours and Awards.  

Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), General Division   

  • Professor Ian Hickie AM, Co-Director, Health and Policy, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, for distinguished service to psychiatric research and reforms as an advocate for improved mental health care and awareness.  

Member of the Order of Australia (AM), General Division   

  • Clinical Associate Professor Matthew Chu, Canterbury Hospital, for significant service to emergency medicine, and to professional associations.  

  • Professor Christopher Maher, Founding Director of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Sydney Research Council member, for significant service to physiotherapy as a researcher, clinician and mentor, particularly in the field of pain management.   

  • Emeritus Professor Carolyn Geczy, Heart Research Institute, for significant service to immunology and vascular biology as a researcher and academic.  

  • Professor Charlotte Hespe, Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, for significant service to general medicine as a practitioner, academic and mentor.  

(Honorary) Member of the Order of Australia (AM), General Division   

  • Professor Deborah Parker, former District nursing and midwifery executive member, for significant service to community health, particularly through palliative and aged care research. 

Order of Australia Medal  

  • Sarah Jane Nilsson, Operational Nurse Manager, for service to nursing.   

  • Clover Bradly, former Food and Environmental Services Manager, Concord Hospital, for service to the community through a range of organisations.   

Public Service Medal   

  • Rosemary Burke, District Director of Pharmacy and Chief Pharmacy Information Officer, for outstanding public service in the implementation and running of the COVID-19 vaccination program and Special Health Accommodation pharmacy support for the NSW Department of Health.