5 Inspirational Australians Who Don’t Let Age Define Them

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

You are never too old and it is never too late to reignite passion and purpose in your life, and the advantage of being older is that the object of this passion and purpose is entirely up to you. By now you’ve raised the family, or worked hard, saved and paid off the mortgage, or anything else that was required of you during these years. Now it’s your turn. Here are some inspiring older Australians who do not let age define them, working well into their 70’s and beyond.

Ita Buttrose

One of our favourite Aussie icons, Ita Buttrose, is 77 years old and only recently took on a new role as the ABC’s board chair. Her long and illustrious career started as founding editor of Cleo in 1972, which was launched to compete with Cosmopolitan. She then became editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly after which she joined News Limited for many years as editor of the Daily Telegraph. Throughout her 70’s, she appeared on several lifestyle shows on Network 10 and the Nine Network. Ita was named Australian of the Year in 2013.

As she says, planning is the key to growing older successfully and that getting older is not the end of the world but a time to embrace life to the fullest.

In February 2019, Ita Buttrose was appointed as board chair of the ABC and has committed to restore stability to the public broadcaster and get it functioning again.

“The only limitations are the ones we put on ourselves.”- Ita Buttrose.

Denise Morcombe

Denise Morcombe, along with her husband Bruce, started the Daniel Morcombe Foundationwhose primary objective is to keep kids safe in the streets of our community through education. This noble cause began after the devastating impact of losing their son Daniel on 7 December 1993 on the Sunshine Coast in QLD.

Denise channelled her grief and energy into a cause that helps the community. To this day, she remains passionately devoted to her cause even though she has had mountains to climb to become emotionally stable enough to run this foundation. The foundation’s two aims are to educate children and young people to stay safe in a physical and online environment and to support young victims of crime. The Morcombes have recently opened Daniel House, a permanent home for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, from where they provide counselling services and support for child victims of abuse and continue their community awareness work.

Here are the awards they have received over the years:

2018 – Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards Citizens of the Year (joint winners)
2016 – Ernst and Young Entrepreneurs of the Year, Northern Region (joint winners)
2013/14 – Communicators of the Year (joint winners) Toastmasters International – District 69
2013 – Order of Australia Medal (OAM) (individual awardees)
2012 – Australian Queenslanders of the Year (joint winners)
2011 – Queensland Child Safety Ambassadors
2011 – Queensland Child Protection Award ‘Best Educational Initiative’

Dick Smith

Dick Smith and his daughter. Image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi. CC license

Dick Smith, now 74, is one of Australia’s most famous entrepreneurs, philanthropists and activists. He launched Dick Smith Radios when he was 23 years old, which became Dick Smith Electronics and he went on to grow Dick Smith Foods and Australian Geographic.

In 2017, with his experience, wisdom and activist nature, he launched the Dick Smith Fair Gocampaign standing up for the rights of what he says is “99%” of the population.

“What do we do about unsustainable perpetual growth, increasing inequality and declining job opportunities due to robots and automation? The demographers tell us that in rich nations such as Australia, the next generation will live shorter lives than their parents, while levels of unhappiness and mental illness will be rising.

Most of us feel something is wrong but we don’t know what to do about it. Surely our grandkids should have as good a life as we have had? That is a fundamental belief of our group. The prime aim will be to find ways to stabilise our population and to share the wealth better.” – Dick Smith

Keith Pearce

Perhaps not so famous, but just as inspiring, is Keith Pearce who at 82 years of age, is still competing in triathlons all over the world.

He took up triathlons in his 50’s and has not stopped since. He has been an inspiration to many younger athletes who think they have a limited time to enjoy their competitive sport. He has won six world titles, the most recent in 2016 when he took out the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Age Championships in Mexico, winning both the standard distance and the aquathlon, and collecting silver in the sprint distance.

“As I’m getting older there are fewer people in my age group, so I’m still winning.” – Keith Pearce

Dick Johnson

Dick Johnson started racing Holden and Ford V8 Supercars in 1964 and became a five-time Australian Touring Car Champion and a three-time winner of the Bathurst 1000. His completed his first race when he was only 19 years old, winning his second race soon after and rising to fame in the 1970’s. He became one of Australia’s most loved sports legends, being inducted into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame in 2001.

Today at 73 years of age, Dick runs and manages his own racing team, Dick Johnson Racing which began in 1980, making it one of the oldest racing teams in Australia. It is now called DJR Team Penske following Penske’s investment in the team in 2014.

“The old Volvo must have its truck suspension in” – Dick Johnson 1986 ATCC, Round 4 at Adelaide International. (Robbie Francevic’s Volvo emerged as the race winner).