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2024 Harry Harris Oration | The Honourable Hieu Van Le AC

Mr Le was born in Central Vietnam, where he attended school before studying Economics at the Da Lat University in the Highlands.

Mr Le, and his wife, Lan, arrived in Darwin in 1977 as two of the Boat people refugees from Vietnam. They settled in Adelaide, starting at the Pennington Migrant Hostel.

Mr Le returned to study at the University of Adelaide, where he earned a degree in Economics and Accounting.  In 2001, Mr Le’s further study earned him a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the same university.

Mr Le gained Certified Practising Accountant accreditation, and from 1991 worked at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Upon his retirement from ASIC in March 2009, he held the position of Senior Manager – Financial Services Regulation.

During this time, Mr Le has served on many community boards and committees, in particular those relating to cultural and linguistic diversity, business, the arts and education.

In 1995 Mr Le was appointed a member of the SA Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC), and was appointed Deputy Chairman in 2004.  When Mr Le became Chair of SAMEAC in 2007, he was the first person of Asian background to be Chair of this organisation in South Australia.

In August 2007, Mr Le was sworn in as the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia.  Over the next seven years in this role, Mr Le served as the Patron or Honorary member of many community, cultural, charitable and veterans organisations.

On 1st September 2014, Mr Le was sworn in as the 35th Governor of South Australia.  He concluded his term on 31st August 2021. During this time, Mr Le served as the Patron of over 230 organisations.

It is understood that Mr Le is the first Vietnamese-born person who has ever been appointed to a Vice-Regal position in the world.

Mr Le was awarded the Australia Day Medal in 1996 for outstanding service to ASIC, and has been awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal for service to the advancement of multiculturalism.

In 2010 Mr Le was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for outstanding service to community, social inclusion and international engagements. In June 2016, Mr Le was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for outstanding service to the community and to the State of South Australia.  He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from all 3 major universities in South Australia: Adelaide University, Flinders University and University of South Australia.

In December 2021, Mr Le was awarded by the Italian Government the title Cavalieri (Knight) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (OMRI).

Currently, Mr Le is the Chairperson of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust Board. He is also the Patron, Life member, Honorary Member, Director, Trustee and Ambassador for 25 organisations.

The Honourable Hieu Van Le AC

About the Harry Harris Oration

The Harry Harris Oration was established in honour of the Society’s founder, Samuel Henry Harris (1881 – 1936), and is usually, but not necessarily, made by a non-urologist. Harry Harris was born and educated in Sydney and after graduation as Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery in 1906 he spent a year as resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital. Harris then went into general practice in the Sydney suburb of Enmore. In 1914 Harry Harris was appointed Honorary Urologist to the new department of urology at Lewisham Hospital, Sydney.

Harris came to urology via gynaecology and he was the first full-time specialist urologist in Australasia and he was also the first Australasian urologist to achieve an international reputation for his work.

In 1928, he first published results of his suprapubic prostatectomy with complete closure. Harris’ mortality rate for his own operation was 2.8 per cent, the lowest at the time, and for many years afterwards, for any method of open prostatectomy. Harris was a pioneer in the speciality of urology and a vital figure in the events leading to the formation of the Urological Society of Australasia. He published thirty-seven papers on urology and was on the editorial boards of not only the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Surgery but also the British Journal of Surgery. He was a foundation fellow of the RACS, a member of the International Society of Urology and would have been foundation president of the Urological Society of Australasia if he had not died in December 1936. The inaugural meeting of the Society took place the following month.

The inaugural Harry Harris Oration was delivered in 1969 by Professor M Ewing, the then Professor of Surgery of Melbourne, and was titled “A Place in Prosperity”.

Samuel Henry (Harry) Harris

Past Harry Harris Orators include:

2023 – Dr Stephen Mark, Dr Lydia Johns Putra, Dr Stuart Philip, and Dr Julian Shah – Remembering Christchurch, delivered by the four inaugural recipients of the Christchurch Medal
2022 – Lisa Curry AO
2019 – Dr Richard Harris OAM, Anaesthetist and 2018 Thai Cave rescue diver
2018 – Prof Peter Doherty AC, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1996, Australian of the Year 1997
2017 – Elizabeth Cosson AM, Deputy Secretary, Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
2016 – Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, Chair AIHW
2015 – Prof Corey Bradshaw, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change
2014 – Prof Ian Frazer AC, co-inventor of HPV vaccine, Australian of the Year 2006
2013 – Moira Kelly AO, Humanitarian
2012 – Warren Mundine AO, Chairman, Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce
2011 – Sir Ray Avery, New Zealander of the Year 2010, scientist, inventor and philanthropist
2010 – Admiral Christopher Barrie AC RANR Chief of the Defence Force 1998-2002