ACT News

Business leader Glenn Keys and basketballer Patrick Mills ACT Australian and Young Australian of the Year

Canberra business leader and philanthropist Glenn Keys has been named the 2015 ACT Australian of the Year while champion basketballer Patrick Mills has been crowned ACT Young Australian of the Year.

The star sportsman was missing from the awards ceremony on Monday night but Mr Keys accepted the honour alongside ACT Senior Australian of the Year Sandra Mahlberg and ACT Local Hero Damian De Marco.

2015 ACT Local Hero, Damian De Marco, ACT Australian of the Year Glenn Keys  and  ACT Senior Australian of the Year ...
2015 ACT Local Hero, Damian De Marco, ACT Australian of the Year Glenn Keys and ACT Senior Australian of the Year Sandra Mahlberg. Photo: Melissa Adams

The Aspen Medical managing director and former Australian Defence Force test flight engineer established the largest provider of on-base health to the Australian Defence Force in 2003. The organisation uses a percentage of its profits to tackle major Australian health issues, particularly in indigenous communities. 

Mr Keys was visibly moved to receive the award in front of his proud son, Ehren, who inspired Project Independence, a housing initiative for people with a disability of which his father is founding director. 

Champion basketballer Patrick Mills, left, has been crowned 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year.
Champion basketballer Patrick Mills, left, has been crowned 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year. Photo: Rohan Thomson

He has worked tirelessly as chairman of Special Olympics ACT and is an active member of the Canberra Business Chamber.

"I often say, I've won the lottery more times than I can count," he said. "It would be a crime if we did not give back." 

Canberra's Young Australian of the Year, 26-year-old Mills, became the first indigenous Australian to win an NBA title earlier this year when he helped lift the San Antonio Spurs to a series win against the Miami Heat in June.

He was presented with the keys to the city in Canberra a month later. 

Mill's basketball career begin at just two years old, shooting hoops on a homemade basketball ring his grandfather built on Thursday Island. Today he is the NBA's fastest player.

Mills has also championed awareness of indigenous heritage and is working on a documentary about indigenous culture. 

His father, Benny, accepted the award on his behalf: "He'll be very proud and honoured and humbled to receive this award."

ACT Senior Australian of the Year Sandra Mahlberg is the ACT co-ordinator of Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children, a volunteer organisation that helps children from developing countries who need corrective surgery for life-threatening but treatable medical conditions.

Since 2006 she has hosted 15 children - "children who would have died, children who would be suffering if we didn't help them" - and their guardians, while maintaining a full-time nursing job at Calvary Hospital. 

ACT Local Hero and child sexual assault campaigner Damian De Marco has been recognised for decades of work to publicly expose the systematic failure of organisations to protect children from abuse.

Mr De Marco bravely became the public face of the royal commission case investigating the institutional response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sex abuse against two of its brothers - the only person to testify without anonymity. 

"This boy somehow survived, others have not," he said. 

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who presented the awards on Monday night, said the four recipients had gone above and beyond to contribute to the Canberra community and Australia.

The ACT award winners are now finalists for the national awards to be announced as part of Australia Day celebrations in January.