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Dublin-born Pat is Australian of the Year

A DUBLIN-BORN psychiatrist has been named Australian of the Year for 2010.

Pat McGorry (57) is Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health, and Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

The award was won previously by Aboriginal Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman in 1998 and leading scientists.

He won the prestigious award for his extraordinary 27-year contribution to the improvement of the youth mental health sector which has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of young people.

Speaking to the Herald, Pat stated that he was a proud Aussie who treasured his Irish heritage.

"I think like an Irishman," he said. "I'm incredibly proud of my Irishness. I was born in Dublin and we lived in Finglas but my family left for Wales when I was just two. We emigrated to Australia in 1968.

"I have a very strong Irish identity, I just got back from Ireland in November. I decided to take a six month sabbatical in Dublin, it really gave my sense of Irishness a boost.

"I'm very proud of both my cultures.

"I feel that Ireland gave me the gift to interact with young people and the very open Australian culture gave me the confidence to advance in my field."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who presented the award, said of Prof McGorry: "The incredible influence of his work, and the value of his contribution to the nation, cannot ever be fully measured."

He described Prof McGorry as "a leader whose drive and compassion and commitment to understanding and treating youth mental illness has helped shape not only lives, but our national approach to mental health."

hnews@herald.ie