Aussies honoured in bravery awards

By By Isabel Hayes AAP/AG Staff 16 August 2010
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This year’s bravery awards go to 54 Australians who have displayed courage beyond the norm.

A SYDNEY HOTEL MANAGER who risked his life to protect his staff and customers is one of 54 Australians who will be recognised for acts of bravery.

Ken Janakievski, 53, from Cronulla, will receive the Star of Courage for protecting customers at his hotel from armed men in 2006 when he wrestled a gun from a robber’s hand. The awards, announced today by Government House, will be presented by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at a later date.

“We are privileged to have such role models in our society, and it is an honour to be able to recognise their acts of selfless bravery,” The Governor-General said in a statement.

Fifteen people, including 13 men and two women, have been awarded the Bravery Medal for acts including rescuing others from drowning and house fires and protecting people from armed attacks. They include a Victorian man who stopped a woman from setting fire to herself with a can of petrol at a service station.

While other witnesses backed out of the station, Eruore Oboidhogo walked in and managed to grab the lighter out of the woman’s hand after a prolonged struggle.

A Gold Coast teacher who protected her students from armed youths in a playground will also be honoured. Natalie Dove, from Burleigh Heads, single-handedly dispersed a gang of youths who were holding a knife to the head of one of her students at Marymount Catholic College.

In another incident, Geoffrey Mills jumped on a jet ski to go to the rescue of two truck drivers trapped by rising floods near Marble Bar in WA. While Gordon Brock dived into a pitch-black icy creek to rescue a woman from a submerged vehicle on the NSW mid-north coast. Other recipients include Helman Rojas-Fort and Ian Arkley, who rescued three men and a woman from a burning house in Chippendale in inner Sydney.

The youngest recipient is Jack Foster, 8, from Ararat who, when he was 7,  saved his father from a crowbar-weilding intruder. Jack managed to call the police on a mobile phone during the savage attack on his father that left him in intensive care; Jack also took pictures of the intruder with the phone, which helped police track down and arrest the man.


A group of Victorian police officers will receive a group bravery citation for rescuing two children being held captive in a burning house at Dandenong.

Sergeant Richard Clayton, Constable Jim Cole-Surjan, Senior Constable Daniel Gathercole and Senior Constable Christian Savage smashed their way through a barricaded window to rescue the two children who were being held captive by their father. Two officers – Sargeant Clayton and Senior Constable Savage – will also receive a commendation for brave conduct for their actions on the day.

A total of 33 people, 31 men and two women, will receive commendations for brave conduct, mostly for drowning and house fire rescues.

The list includes Christopher Overend who rescued a driver from the flames of his overturned cattle truck at Rosedale in Victoria, and Marita-Jane Hallett who saved an elderly man from a car submerged in a creek at Forest Hill in Queensland.

Anyone can nominate a person for bravery awards, ranging from the Cross of Valour (the highest category), to the Star of Courage, Bravery Medal and Commendation for Brave Conduct. Nominations are considered by the Australian Bravery Decorations Council.

Just five Cross of Valour awards and 140 Star of Courage awards have been given out since the Australian Bravery Awards were established 1975.