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Adelaide eye surgeon James Muecke who helped blind people is named Australian of the Year 

Eye surgeon who dedicated his career to helping blind people is named Australian of the Year

  • Adelaide surgeon James Muecke was awarded the title by PM Scott Morrison
  • The 56-year-old eye surgeon dedicated his career to preventing blindness 
  • He said about 80 per cent of blindness cases are avoidable there is an epidemic
  • Obstetrics professor John Newnham was named Senior Australian of the Year 
  • Tennis star Ash Barty was named as Young Australian of the Year 2020 

A passionate eye surgeon who dedicated his career to preventing blindness has been named as Australian of the Year. 

Adelaide surgeon James Muecke was awarded the honorary title by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Arboretum in Canberra on Saturday night.

‘What a tremendous honour to be named Australian of the Year for 2020, such an auspicious year for eyesight,’ the 56-year-old said.

Australian of the Year winner Dr James Muecke during the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards at the National Arboretum in Canberra

Adelaide surgeon James Muecke was awarded the honorary title by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Arboretum in Canberra on Saturday night

Adelaide surgeon James Muecke was awarded the honorary title by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Arboretum in Canberra on Saturday night

Dr Muceke said about 80 per cent of blindness cases are avoidable and the world is facing an epidemic.  

‘It is now the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults in this country,’ he told AAP.

‘It’s a growing epidemic and it’s the biggest threat to our health system.’

In 2000 he co-founded the Vision Myanmar program and Sight For All, an organisation that offers collaborative research, education and infrastructure support to fight blindness caused by preventable diseases. 

With programs in Australia, Ethiopia and nine countries across Asia, Sight For All not only restores sight but alleviates poverty and improves the life expectancy of its patients. 

2020 Australian of the Year winner Dr James Muecke is hugged by his wife during the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards

2020 Australian of the Year winner Dr James Muecke is hugged by his wife during the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards

2020 Australian of the Year winner Dr James Muecke, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and 2020 Senior Australian of the Year winner Professor John Newnham after the 2020 Australian of the Year Award

2020 Australian of the Year winner Dr James Muecke, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and 2020 Senior Australian of the Year winner Professor John Newnham after the 2020 Australian of the Year Award

He plans on bringing awareness to what he describes as a ‘looming catastrophe’ where diabetes is the number one cause to blindness among working-age adults in Australia. 

‘People are going blind and losing vision, what we need to do is go right back to beginning and say what is causing this?’

Some of his suggests include a sugar tax, better food labelling and restrictions on advertising, especially during children’s TV viewing times.      

Australian tennis player Ashley Barty posing for a photo after being named the Young Australian of the Year

Australian tennis player Ashley Barty posing for a photo after being named the Young Australian of the Year

West Australia's 2020 Senior Australian of the Year finalist Professor John Newnham

West Australia’s 2020 Senior Australian of the Year finalist Professor John Newnham

Mr Morrison shared photos of Dr Muecke, Senior Australian of the Year Professor John Newnham and Young Australian of the Year Ash Barty and congratulated them on their achievements.

‘Congratulations to the 2020 Australian of the Year Dr James Muecke,’ he wrote on Twitter. 

‘His passionate and selfless commitment to preventing blindness and tackling diabetes here at home and around the world is changing lives. You are a true inspiration. 

‘Well done also to the other recipients Professor John Newnham (Senior Australian of the Year), Bernie Shakeshaft (Local Hero) and Ash Barty (Young Australian of the Year), who could not be there tonight due to her commitments at the Australian Open.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with 2020 Local Hero winner Bernie Shakeshaft during the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with 2020 Local Hero winner Bernie Shakeshaft during the 2020 Australian of the Year Awards

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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