The bravery of terror attack survivor Rod Patterson was officially recognised at an award ceremony in Melbourne's Government House on Thursday.
Patterson was presented with a Bravery Award by the Royal Humane Society of Australasia for his actions in Melbourne on November 9, 2018, when the attack's preparator set a vehicle on fire on Bourke Street and stabbed three people, killing one.
Mr Patterson, who had previously worked as a firefighter, was visiting Melbourne when the attack occurred and rushed over to the car fire to help before being stabbed in the head.
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He is well-known in Tasmania's Launceston community for his involvement in the South Launceston Football Club and as the former franchisee of the city's Autobarn.
Mr Patterson was one of several awardees to be recognised by the society for their actions on the day and one of just two silver award recipients.
Speaking on the honour, Mr Patterson, who was with his son, daughter-in-law and wife in Melbourne to accept the award, said it was a day of mixed emotions.
"Today we met other people that were involved in the event that I haven't met before and listened to their stories. It's been a pretty emotional day," he said.
Mr Patterson said those emotions had also been high when meeting and talking with the son of Melbourne café owner Sisto Malaspina, who tragically died during the attack.
"We didn't know each other's stories. It's just been overwhelming and we must never forget that an innocent person died," he said.
With that in mind, Mr Patterson was eager to express a message of peace in the wake of an attack fueled by hate.
"It's ok to be sad. It's ok to be angry, but it's not ok to hate because hate caused this incident as well as so many others," he said.
In the years since the event, Mr Patterson and his family have also become vocal advocates for mental health education through advocacy group Stigma No More.
"When someone is going through a hard time, don't judge them - just be there for them," he said.
Adding a personal touch to the award, COVID restrictions prevented the Governor from pinning the medal to Mr Patterson, meaning his son Todd Patterson was able to perform the honour. Meanwhile, daughter Lisa Patterson, who was unable to attend the event, said the moment was 'bittersweet' after a whirlwind few years.
"For someone to have gone through something as traumatic as he did, this award is bittersweet and shows the sort of person he is, brave and caring - someone who would help anyone in any situation," she said.
"We are just so lucky as a family to still have such an amazing person in our lives."
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