Thai cave rescue duo named Australians of the Year

Australians of the Year Dr Richard Harris (left) and Craig Challen pose for photos at the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards at The National Arboretum in Canberra, Australia, on Jan 25, 2019.
Australians of the Year Dr Richard Harris (left) and Craig Challen pose for photos at the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards at The National Arboretum in Canberra, Australia, on Jan 25, 2019.PHOTO: EPA - EFE

SYDNEY • Two Australian cave divers who helped rescue 12 boys stuck deep in a Thai cave in July last year yesterday said children should get cuts, bruises and broken arms as they explore the world.

Adelaide anaesthetist Richard "Harry" Harris and retired vet Craig Challen, who were made dual "Australians of the Year" on Friday evening before yesterday's Australia Day, said despite the young Thai soccer players getting stuck in the cave, it was important for kids to be out exploring the world.

On national ABC radio yesterday morning, Dr Harris said he would spend his year as co-Australian of the Year urging children to put down video games, tear away from TV screens, get outdoors, escape so-called "helicopter parents", and go exploring.

"It's important for kids to explore and challenge themselves, get a few grazed knees, stub a few toes, break a few arms or legs," said Dr Harris.

"Exploring and physical challenges make us more robust and confident, and we all need that as we head into life."

Dr Challen said what they did in the cave rescue was a metaphor for the importance of taking chances that life presented.

The pair were about to go on a caving holiday in central Australia in July when they got a call asking for their help in the Thai cave rescue.

DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 27, 2019, with the headline 'Thai cave rescue duo named Australians of the Year'. Print Edition | Subscribe