Written by Renae Failla

With Father’s Day, a day to remember paternal bonds and the influence of fathers on society, fast approaching on the 6th September 2020, we look to the Australian created award that recognises and congratulates famous fathers in society for their achievements.

Surprisingly, Father’s Day is so significant that it is celebrated by over 111 countries.

About the Award

The Australian Father of the Year award is an annual award that is normally awarded to high profile fathers of society which includes prime ministers, politicians, business leaders and entertainers. It recognises the support and guidance that they not only show to their own children but to other children in society. The award is normally announced annually at luncheon with all proceeds from the day being donated to The Shepherd Centre, however, this year will look a little different with specific details of the ceremony yet to be confirmed.

JAX Tyres for Ponderings

This year’s winner is yet to announced, however, Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, has spoken to the qualities of this year’s winner saying

“The 2020 Australian Father of the Year Award winner is a father who has played a critical role in fostering community recovery and spirit during some of the tough times Australians have faced over the last 12 months. While the timings of this year’s nominations mean that the 2020 announcement is not related to COVID-19, this father has provided critical support to Australian families – including his own, over the course of the year. 

However, there is no reason why the 2021 Australian Father of the Year couldn’t be one of our dad’s on the COVID-19 frontline. The Shepherd Centre and the Australian Father’s Day Council would love to see nominations that recognise these heroes and their contributions. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how the 2020 Award will be presented but we look forward to what will nonetheless be a very special announcement and invite Australia to celebrate with us.”


How it all began

The awards were inaugurated in 1957 and later co-run by The Shepherd Centre, a world-leading children’s charity helping deaf children to develop spoken language at early intervention stages. The second organisation who run the awards are Father’s Day Council Australia. 

Past Winners of the award include the following:

  • Bandit Heeler from the TV show Bluey
  • Sports Journalist Mark Beretta
  • Entrepreneur, aviator, adventurer and philanthropist Dick Smith AC
  • Former NSW Premier Mike Baird
  • Former Governor of New South Wales His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d)
  • GP and community leader Dr Jamal Rifi
  • Basketballer Andrew Gaze
  • Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond
  • Air Chief Marshal (retired) Angus Houston
  • Former Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia Guy Cooper
  • Author of best-selling autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer Li Cunxin
  • Former Swans Coach Paul Roos

To qualify for the award, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  1. A father who is an inspirational role model and maintains a strong commitment and involvement with his family.
  2. A father who is an inspirational role model to the children in the communities with whom he associates.
  3. A father who has made a significant contribution to the nation and is recognised for his personal, academic or professional achievements.
  4. A father who is committed to maintaining an ongoing and future contribution to the nation. Consideration is given to voluntary, unpaid work undertaken and awards and recognition previously received.

This year, nominations for the award closed on the 29th June 2020.

Mark Beretta, the 2019 award winner

Last year’s winner of the award was Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta. Mark, is a father to two young children and over the years has been a strong supporter of many organisations including RAISE Foundation, Fight Cancer Foundation and the Australian Paramedic Support Foundation.

On being selected as the 2019 winner, Mark was undoubtedly honoured saying

“Becoming a dad is a special experience and it does change your life in a very fulfilling way – all my favourite memories involve my family. So many dads out there are doing a great job with their families and I am regularly inspired by the role they play in bringing up brilliant Australian kids. I take my hat off to fathers across Australia for all they do; they deserve a pat on the back.”

photo credit: The Shepard Centre

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