The Governor of NSW general David Hurley is the 2016 Australian Father of the Year.
The annual award is presented by children’s charity, The Shepherd Centre.
Gen Hurley grew up in Warrawong, is married to Linda Hurley and is the father of three adult children Caitlin, Marcus and Amelia.
During his career the former Chief of the Defence Force has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) and Knight of the Order of St John.
And the acknowledgment last weekend for his role as a dad also has special meaning for the 38th Governor of NSW.
The Shepherd Centre described him as an exceptional male role model to others in the community and an upstanding father.
Gen Hurley said he felt very humbled to even be considered for Australian Father of the Year.
He said it was a special honour to receive but he felt slightly embarrassed because, like most fathers, he worried whether he has been as good as he could have been in setting a positive role model for his children.
“Raising children is a team effort,” he said.
“I think that I have worked closely with Linda in raising our children, though my career meant that there were many frequent absences from home. I thank Linda for stepping up during my absences. She has been a very loving and caring mum. I hope that, for my part, I provided my children with an example of honest and ethical behaviour, a respect for all people, and the importance of applying yourself to whatever task is at hand.”
Being a good role model to his children is something Gen Hurley takes seriously.
He said during his military career, he also saw many examples of the positive impact a father figure can have on young soldiers.
“Male role models are important, be they fathers or father figures. The right examples can teach respect, and help to create a loving environment in which children can grow and explore in a safe space. There are many issues in life that boys or young men will only feel comfortable about discussing with other males, especially one who is a role model,” he said.
Australian Father’s Day Council chairman Maurice Newman said the Australian Father of the Year Award celebrated the importance of positive father figures to children as they grow.
“The Governor has certainly excelled as a father and in his career, and has played an exceptionally important role in our nation’s defence forces,” he said.
“This Award recognises him as an exceptional male role model to so many people across Australia.”
At an Illawarra Connection dinner in 2013 Gen Hurley recalled how he spent the first 18 years of his life growing up in Wollongong where he was born in 1953.
He spoke of how that upbringing had helped prepare him for a life in the defence force.
He proudly spoke growing up in Warrawong near the lake.
"I am a product of all the Port Kembla schools," he said.
"I virtually grew up on Port Kembla Beach."
Gen Hurley recalled cruising down Crown St in his late teens in search of the best hamburger and said during his career he was constantly amazed at how many people knew of Port Kembla.
When he met Jim Nabors in Hawaii in 2012 the singer and actor, who played Gomer Pyle in the television series of the same name, said "Oh Port Kembla” when he heard he the general was from Australia.
“When I came to the Pacific to do tours in the clubs, Port Kembla Leagues Club was the first club I ever played," Nabors said.
Gen Hurley said when he graduated from Port Kembla High School 53 per cent of the children in his senior class were new Australians. He said growing up in such a multicultural environment had really served him well.
"I have been fortunate to live in a number of countries, so that gave me the ability to walk into any community and feel at ease with people with different values, a different approach to life, a different language and different food," he said.
Gen Hurley said he received a good education at Port Kembla High School and will also never forget how good the first 18 years of his life in Wollongong were.
"It was a really happy free life," he said.
"I was taught well and I had a very supportive community behind me. What I remember most is growing up without any concerns or cares."
Gen Hurley is often described as down-to-earth.
He said he liked that because being approachable was very important to the roles he has held.