Former Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service named Australia’s ‘top dad’

04 Sep 2020
  • Shane Fitzsimmons awarded title of The Shepherd Centre’s Australian Father of the Year 2020
  • Jacob Hurrell awarded title of The Shepherd Centre’s Community Father of the Year 2020

04 September 2020, 9:00AM Today, the Australian Father’s Day Council and The Shepherd Centre, a charity for children who are deaf and hearing impaired, announced Former Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) now current Commissioner of Resilience NSW Shane Fitzsimmons as the 2020 Australian Father of the Year.

While the father of two is best known for his remarkable leadership during the 2019/20 disastrous bushfire season and longstanding career within the Rural Fire Service, it is Shane’s dedication to his family, and the wider community, that won him the top spot as the 2020 Award winner.

Shane started his career as a volunteer member of Duffys Forest Brigade in 1985. At age 44, he was appointed RFS NSW Commissioner – the youngest in RFS history. He was recently appointed the role of Commissioner of Resilience NSW, a new government agency focused on disaster preparedness and recovery.

Shane’s recognition as The Shepherd Centre’s Australian Father of the Year 2020 is particularly significant as many Australians and their families have had a tough year with the bushfires, floods and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The awards aims to celebrate the hero dads and father figures, like Shane, who have been instrumental in fostering community recovery and spirit in challenging times.

Shane Fitzsimmons expressed his gratitude at receiving the award, saying, “It is an enormous honour and extremely humbling to be recognised as the Australian Father of the Year. Growing up, I had a troubled relationship with my dad, this instilled in me an ambition to prioritise having a stable and healthy family.  

“Being a dad is an incredibly special experience. I thank my wife Lisa and our two daughters, Lauren and Sarah, for teaching me so much,” he said.

Dr Jim Hungerford, CEO of The Shepherd Centre, said he was thrilled to announce Shane Fitzsimons as this year’s winner.

“Shane has certainly excelled as a father, and has played a critical role in our nation’s fire service and recovery from the 2020 bushfires. We’re delighted to award him The Shepherd Centre’s Australian Father of the Year award for 2020.”

The Australian Father’s Day Council has also named Jacob Hurrell, father to 19-month-old Heath who was born with mild-moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, as The Shepherd Centre’s Australian Community Father of the Year 2020. 

Jacob is dedicated in supporting Heath through his hearing loss journey. He is a very hands-on father, and is a proud advocate for Heath.

“I’m honoured to receive this award, which acknowledges everyday dads for their commitment to their families and to making their community a better place,” Jacob said.

Jacob’s wife, Katherine says she is exceptionally proud of her husband. “He teaches Heath every day that he wasn’t born to fit in, he was born to shine. I couldn’t think of a more deserving man for this title,” she said.

Past Australian Father of the Year winners include Channel 7 Host Mark Berretta, entrepreneur Dick Smith AC; former New South Wales Premier Mike Baird; Sunrise host David Koch; and His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC FTSE, Governor-General of Australia. See a full list of winners here.


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