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Peter’s community spirit earns him an Australia Day honour

Peter’s community spirit earns him an Australia Day honour
Brendan Rees

Peter Duras, an exemplary physiotherapist, and community-minded Southbank resident has been recognised in the Australia Day Honours list.

A humble individual, Mr Duras is known for going above and beyond for others in his numerous volunteer roles including at Rotary Melbourne, Youth Projects, the Melbourne Men’s Shed and as a former guide at the National Sports Museum among others.

In his professional career, his selfless contributions saw him become an instrumental force as a volunteer head physiotherapist at the Sydney Olympic Games where he witnessed Cathy Freeman make history after winning gold in the 400-metre race in what he described as “one of the greatest nights of my life”.

On Australia Day Mr Duras was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his “significant service to sports physiotherapy, and to the community”.

The Australia Day honours celebrate and acknowledge the exemplary individuals across various sectors to society.

 

“I am thrilled,” he said of the award but wasted no time in emphasising that the real reward was being a part of a team and expressed his gratitude to countless people, noting “you can’t help but be encouraged to get on with doing a bit more”.

 

“I’ve got to say I’ve been supported by my wife Sue all the way and a lot of good Rotarians, and a lot of good physios. Everything I’ve done has been a part of a team and that really is why I’ve been able to achieve, occasionally, some positive results.”

A Southbank resident of 12 years, Mr Duras, 83, said helping make a difference to the community “brings a smile to my face”.

“One of the big projects that I initiated was the Yangon Children’s Hospital in Myanmar and that went on for years. Well, you don’t see the smiles on the faces, but you do know that you have brought about huge changes in the lives of hundreds of kids,” he said.

Now retired, Mr Duras, a self-confessed “sport tragic”, counts himself lucky when reflecting on his illustrious career of more than four decades after moving to Australia from Germany as a refugee in 1937.

Among his achievements are establishing his own physiotherapist practice in Essendon in 1972 and being a member of the Australian team at seven Commonwealth Games, and four World Athletic Championships.

“Helping an injured athlete get up and then really perform well is a very rewarding experience.”

He was also a former physiotherapist at the Essendon and Footscray football clubs and has been a foundation fellow of the Sports Medicine Australia since 1984.

This year Mr Duras said he would take on an ambitious project of uncovering the unknown history of the Commonwealth Winter Games, which were held in 1958, 1962, and 1966 in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Through extensive research, interviews with past Australian athletes, and an examination of historical documents, he aims to shed light on the intriguing past of these lesser-known sports events and “why they disappeared completely”.

Speaking of his passion for Southbank, he and his wife Sue love being “so close to everything you need”, including parks, shops, markets, and the CBD.

“It’s wonderful. It’s now getting a little bit overdeveloped, but that’s inevitable. But we love being in a big building with a variety of other people that we are able to interact with, that’s really enjoyable.” •

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