Acclaimed actor and arts supporter, Geoffrey Rush, was named Australian of the Year 2012 at a public event on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, presented Rush with his Australian of the Year trophy and congratulated him on the honour.
Rush was born in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1951, moving with his family to Brisbane in his primary school years.
While much loved for his comic role as Captain Hector Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, he is perhaps more admired for his recent portrayal of Australian Lionel Logue, in 2010’s best film The Kings Speech, playing opposite Colin Firth as King George VI who won an Oscar in that part.
Rush won his own Oscar in 1996 for his role in Shine and has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ - an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. He is the only Australian-born actor, male or female, to win a ‘Leading Role’ Oscar.
He also has three Australian Film Institute honours, three British Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, and last year was inducted into the ranks of Australia’s elite with a Helpmann Award.
In 2011 he was appointed as foundation President of the newly-established Australian Academy Of Cinema and Television Arts.
The Senior Australian of the Year is Laurie Baymarrwangga, an Aboriginal extraordinary elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
The Young Australian of the Year 2012 is 22 year old engineering advocate Marita Cheng of Brunswick East whose leadership is changing the occupational landscape for women by encouraging girls to pursue engineering studies and careers.