A Minnamurra high school teacher will today be invited to receive Australia’s second-highest civilian bravery decoration, the Star of Courage. The honour comes 18 months after Joel Trist knowingly swam deeper into shark-infested waters off Bombo Beach to rescue a critically injured friend, Brett Connellan.
The pair was surfing 100-150 metres off-shore when Mr Trist heard his friend yelling and saw the thrashing of a shark that was attacking him. He battled a rip to bring Mr Connellan ashore, then led efforts to tourniquet his leg and keep him alive until emergency services arrived.
Australian Bravery Awards nominations are considered by the independent Australian Bravery Decorations Council, which meets twice a year before making recommendations to the Governor-General.
Mr Trist, a science teacher at Dapto High School, is one of nine people approved by the Governor-General to receive the honour. He is expected to accept the award at a ceremony in May next year. Another 32 people in each category have been approved to receive the Bravery Medal and the Commendation for Brave Conduct. Since 1975, there have been five awards of the highest civilian bravery honour, the Cross of Valour, and 165 awards of the Star of Courage.