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Ian Kiernan, Clean Up Australia founder dead at 78

The campaigner and yachtsman was diagnosed with cancer in July last year.
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Founder of Clean Up Australia day and former Australian of the year, Ian Kiernan OAM, has passed away at the age of 78.

The former yachtsman was diagnosed with cancer in July last year, and was one of the most well-known environmentalists in the country after his clean up initiative was founded in 1989.

He is survived by his wife Judy and their daughters, Sally and Pip.

Ian Kiernan, OAM, dead at 78. (Image: Getty)

A statement released by Clean Up Australia said:

“While we will deeply miss Ian’s guidance and humour, it was his greatest wish that the work he inspired continues.

“Ian believed that Clean Up belongs to the millions of volunteers who have taken to their streets, beaches, parks, bushland and waterways to remove the rubbish that is bothering them.

“More recently this has extended to the thousands who take actions such as saying no to a plastic bag at the checkout, refusing a single-use item, or who join us via our social media campaigns.”

“One man’s vision created Clean Up Australia, the nations largest community mobilisation effort which is now firmly embedded in Australian and global culture.”

The organisation also shared a tribute to Ian on their Twitter page:


Ian was born in Sydney on the 4 October 1940.

A keen sailor, he became concerned by the amount of rubbish he had seen on a voyage around the world, which prompted him to found Clean Up Australia Day and then Clean Up World.

“Ian Kiernan is recognised worldwide as the founder of Clean Up Australia, which began 30 years ago as Clean Up Sydney Harbour. In the following year his ‘simple idea’ went national before taking on the world in 1993 under the banner of Clean Up the World. Today more than 30 million people globally participate in their own local clean ups,” a statement on their website read.

Ian founded ‘Clean Up Australia’ in 1989. (Image: Getty)

Donate to Clean Up Australia

One of Ian’s requests was that, rather then sending flowers, people support his passion and commitment by making a donation to Clean Up Australia.

A donation in his name will assist the organisation to continue and expand his work to preserve and protect our precious environment.

Click here to make a donation.

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