Project AWARE Governor Neville Coleman Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for Service to Conservation and Environment

Veteran diver and conservationist Neville Coleman has been awarded The Medal of the Order of Australia, one of the highest honours given to Australians, in recognition of his service to conservation and the significant difference he has made to his community.

Sydney, Australia, 15 Feb 2011.  Each year Australia gives special honours to recognise, celebrate and say thank you to those who make a difference, those who achieve their best and those who serve others. The Medal of the Order of Australia is one of the highest honours that can be given to any Australian, and formally recognises those who have made a significant difference to the world we live in.

Neville Coleman has been diving since 1963, when he first went below the waves in Sydney Harbour

Neville Coleman first fell in love with the ocean and all its inhabitants in 1963 when he starting diving in Sydney Harbour.  In 1969, after two years of preparation, he conducted the Australian Coastal Marine Expedition (ACME): a project of almost four years, encompassing 64,000 kilometres of Australian coast. This ambitious goal was to observe, record, photograph and collect many thousands of marine creatures for Australian museums.

Having conducted over 14,000 dives, Coleman uses photography to identify species and has discovered 450 species new to science. His photographs are on display at most major museums and aquariums across Australia, and his use of photography for science has been recognised by some of the top organisations in the country. Coleman is an Honorary Fellow Australian Institute of Professional Photography, has the Australian Photographic Society Commonwealth Medal and is a Research Associate Australian Museum and Consultant of Queensland Museum.

Coleman has also been recognised with his election to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame

In the scuba diving world his work doesn’t go unrecognised either.  In 2007, he was elected into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. He is also an International Fellow of The Explorers Club recognising his direct contribution to the field of geographical exploration and scientific knowledge, and holds a Limited Field Specialty Instructor rating from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).

As Governor for Project AWARE, Coleman has been on hand on more than one occasion, helping staff at dive shows in Singapore to educate young kids, providing free resources of books and education guides for dissemination across the Asia Pacific region, and running Project AWARE Marine Specialty Courses to teach divers how to use their diving skills for conservation.

Commenting on the award, Project AWARE Foundation Director, Henrik Nimb said, “Neville is a true inspiration to many people.  His enthusiasm and dedication to the marine environment has educated hundreds of divers through his articles, talks, books and marine courses.”

Nimb added that Coleman has been an invaluable support to Project AWARE and its mission to protect the ocean. “On behalf of Project AWARE we congratulate you Neville, and are honoured to work with and be associated with you,” he said.

Forty years of passion for the marine environment - and still going strong!

Coleman, now 72, runs his own business, writing and publishing books and writing Marine Life eGuides, running specialist dive courses and travelling to the world's greatest dive sites as well as continuing to photograph wildlife. He has recently written three new electronic Marine Identification eGuides, which include 9000 of his own underwater images.

On receiving the award Coleman said, "I feel that this award is making the whole story worth the effort, because it gives my life a fairy tale ending.”

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Project AWARE Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation, works in partnership with divers to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action.