Thursday, 21st March 2019
Hosted reception for 2019 Australian of the Year
The Governor and Ms Annus hosted a reception for Dr Craig Challen SC OAM, (joint) 2019 Australian of the Year (with Dr Richard Harris OAM).
In July 2018, respected cave diver and retired vet Dr Craig Challen was about to go on a caving holiday in the Nullarbor Plains, when he was called to help on a rescue mission in Thailand with his friend Dr Richard Harris OAM.
Craig, who has dived some of Australia’s deepest wrecks and has set depth records in diving, was chosen for the mission based on his technical expertise. Working 10 to 12 hours a day in extremely dangerous conditions, Craig repeatedly risked his life as the children were swum, one-by-one, through the dark and narrow flooded caves.
Despite admitting he initially thought the rescue would be too difficult to accomplish, he played a leading role in this successful and heroic mission. Craig was awarded the Star of Courage for his unwavering and selfless bravery following the successful rescue of the trapped soccer team.
On 24th July, Dr Challen and Dr Harris received the Star of Courage for ‘unwavering and selfless bravery’ and a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the international community through their specialist response roles.