The award was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Australia Day.
Accepting the national award, which follows on the South Australian Senior of the Year honour awarded in November last year, Professor Maddocks said people who were near death were formerly isolated by regimes of hospital care.
He said while care of the dying had come a long way in recent decades to include the positive involvement of the family and increased levels of care at home, more resources need to be devoted to palliative care to ensure that such services are available to all.
Professor Maddocks was appointed as Professor of Palliative Care in 1988, after promoting the development of palliative care treatment and services in southern Adelaide for some years.
At Flinders, he pursued a rigorous and innovative teaching and research program, as well as caring for patients.
He was elected as the first President of the Australian Association of for Hospice and Palliative Care, and was also the first President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine.
Recognised also for his work in tropical and preventative medicine, his texts are used internationally, and he has received a number of international awards for his work.
He is also strongly involved in advocacy for peace, helping to lead both the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War. Now aged 82, he continues to be involved in the treatment and care of the terminally ill.
In the Australia Day honours list, Flinders connections included former University Council member and businessman Mr Nick Begakis, who was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO), and two graduates, musician Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson and ABC broadcaster Peter Goers, who both received Order of Australia Medals (OAM).