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A man who dived into open water to rescue a shark attack victim on the NSW mid north coast has been awarded one of Australia's highest bravery awards.
Rowan Cutbush was parasailing with two friends at Jimmies Beach, near Port Stephens, when one of them fell off a wakeboard into the water.
The woman was then attacked by a shark, suffering injuries to her arm, neck and face.
On seeing the attack, Mr Cutbush dived off his vessel and swam around 20 metres through "bloodied water" to reach the victim.
Mr Cutbush then held onto the woman until the pair was pulled back to the vessel with a rope.
With a mate, Mr Cutbush assisted the woman out of the water then treated her severely lacerated arm, before driving the vessel at high speed back to ambulance officers at a nearby jetty.
The woman received treatment for lacerations sustained in the attack.
Mr Cutbush was awarded one of 14 Aussies to this year win a Bravery Medal from Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
The Bravery Medal is awarded for acts of "bravery in hazardous circumstances".
It is the third highest Australian Bravery Decoration behind the Star of Courage and the Cross of Valour.
Ms Bryce said the 2014 national bravery awards recognised "the heroic actions of those amongst us who have placed the safety and lives of others before their own".
"We are privileged to have such role models in our society, and it is an honour to be able to recognise their acts of selfless bravery and thank them publicly for their brave actions," she said in a statement.
There were 47 Australians awarded national bravery decorations this year.