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2020 Australian Antarctic Medal

We all marvel at the majesty of the Antarctic.

It is imperative that it be protected.

As members of the Australian Antarctic Division, you lead our nation’s activities in the Antarctic.

It is critically important work and helps protect the Antarctic environment and conserve the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

Midwinter is a special time of year for you. It is a time to celebrate the AAD’s many achievements.

This year, due to social distancing restrictions, celebrations will be very different from those normally held by the AAD community.

There can’t be the traditional gatherings at the memorial rock or over a meal.

The 89 expeditioners at the three Antarctic stations and on Macquarie Island will still be able to come together, though — no doubt celebrating their status as the only COVID-19-free place on the planet.

But, thanks to technology, the Australian Antarctic Division will be able to come together online and be united in its Midwinter celebrations.

Those celebrations include today’s announcement of the 2020 Australian Antarctic Medal winners.

The Australian Antarctic Medal is part of Australia’s Honours and Awards system — a system through which we, as a nation, recognise and thank people for their outstanding contribution to society.

The six recipients of the 2020 Australian Antarctic Medal I am announcing today have each made an outstanding contribution to scientific research and exploration.

The first award is awarded posthumously.

Professor Patrick Quilty AM — Patrick passed away in 2018. A geologist and palaeontologist, he expertly led the Australian Antarctic Division’s science program for more than 18 years and helped establish Australia’s leading reputation in the field of Antarctic science.

Mr Bradley Collins — for 13 seasons and more than 30 voyages, Bradley has led the crucial function of refuelling stations from ships, over water and ice.

Mr Simon Cross — as a Field Training Officer, Simon was front and centre in the rescue, treatment and medical evacuation of three injured expeditioners after a helicopter crash on the Amery Ice Shelf in 2013.

Ms Alison Dean — as station leader at three research stations in Antarctica, Alison has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, especially during high-intensity operations.

Ms Leanne Millhouse — As Voyage Leader on the Aurora Australis, Leanne has demonstrated a truly remarkable ability to remain calm and to be adaptable in crisis situations.

And, Dr Colin Southwell —as a vertebrate ecologist, Colin has developed a remotely operating camera system that enables an expansion of seabird monitoring by many nations in Antarctica.

To the family of Professor Quilty — you can be very proud of Patrick’s achievements. He was held in high esteem by all in the Antarctic science research community.

To the other five medal recipients — congratulations. You are worthy winners of an Australian Antarctic Medal and should be very proud.

In closing, I want to thank everyone at the Australian Antarctic Division.

The Division’s operations and research reflect the expertise, dedication — sometimes bravery — and professionalism of its staff.