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MEDIA RELEASE

SATURDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2014

WOMEN DOMINATE FINALISTS FOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2015
Awards to be announced 25 January 2015

australianoftheyear.org.au
The extraordinary group of inspiring Australians in the running for the Australian of the Year Awards 2015 is now finalised, with all State & Territory Award recipients announced at a series of events around Australia over the past three weeks.
State & Territory Award recipients in the four Award categories - Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero - are now national finalists for the Awards which will be announced in Canberra on 25 January 2015.
Six of the eight finalists for the 2015 Australian of the Year Award are women - the highest number of female finalists in the category since the State and Territory award process was introduced in 2003. Of the 32 finalists across all four award categories, 17 are women.
"All the Australian of the Year Award national finalists are remarkable people making a real difference to our nation," said Jeremy Lasek, CEO of the National Australia Day Council.
"It's wonderful to see so many women among the finalists in all four Award categories and across the board it's great to recognise Australians whose strength of character, courage, achievements and vision are making Australia a better place.
"The national finalists represent the diversity of Australian society, with five finalists of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island background and six finalists who were born overseas and emigrated to Australia.
"Their contributions and achievements are also widely varied - ranging across science, human and equal rights advocacy, community leadership, medicine, volunteering, breaking down barriers and setting new benchmarks - but they are all inspirational Australians.
"From this impressive group of 32 Australians will come our next Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero."

Those now in consideration for the national Awards are:


AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 - FINALISTS

New South Wales - Deborra-lee Furness

Victoria - Rosie Batty

Queensland - Hetty Johnston AM

Western Australia - Professor Lyn Beazley AO

South Australia - Dr Gill Hicks MBE

Tasmania - Rodney Croome AM

Australian Capital Territory - Glenn Keys

Northern Territory - Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM
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SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 - FINALISTS

New South Wales - Jackie French

Victoria - Professor Sam Berkovic AC

Queensland - Fred Hyde AM

Western Australia - Graham Mabury OAM

South Australia - John Swan

Tasmania - Professor Henry Reynolds

Australian Capital Territory - Sandra Mahlberg

Northern Territory - Eddie Robertson
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 - FINALISTS

New South Wales - Genevieve Clay-Smith

Victoria - Thomas King

Queensland - Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Western Australia - Drisana Levitzke-Gray

South Australia - Kristin Carson

Tasmania - Adam Mostogl

Australian Capital Territory - Patrick Mills

Northern Territory - Chantal Ober
AUSTRALIA'S LOCAL HERO 2015 - FINALISTS

New South Wales - Kevin Robinson

Victoria - Louise Davidson

Queensland - Juliette Wright

Western Australia - Stacy Dunbar

South Australia - Vince Coulthard

Tasmania - Mary Kay

Australian Capital Territory - Damian De Marco

Northern Territory - Ray Palmer
The Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards.
“For more than 35 years, we have been pleased to support the Australian of the Year Awards - a national program that recognises outstanding individuals. Each year we are inspired by the calibre of recipients from each State and Territory. We congratulate all this year’s national finalists and wish them all the best for the Awards,” said Commonwealth Bank CEO, Ian Narev.
The announcement of the Australian of the Year Awards 2015 will be held on the lawns outside Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday 25 January 2015.

  

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au 


ENDS.
Bios of national Award finalists are attached and also available from australianoftheyear.org.au
Media enquiries, interviews and photos:

Zannie Abbott, Media Opps 0418 274 291

Nicole Browne, Media Opps 0414 673 762

Embargo note:

Embargo applies due to Western Australia Awards announcements being made in Perth on Saturday afternoon. The Western Australia Awards is the final State & Territory Awards announcements to be held, thereby finalising the list of national Award finalists.

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AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2015

FINALIST BIOS BY AWARD CATEGORY
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 - FINALISTS
New South Wales

Deborra-lee Furness - Child advocate and adoption campaigner

An actor, director and producer, Deborra-lee is fighting for the rights of children in Australia and around the world.  Recognising the great need to help abandoned and vulnerable children and the mother of two adopted children herself, Deborra-lee established National Adoption Awareness Week in 2008, building the campaign from a volunteer-led, grassroots organisation to the active advocacy group it is today. In 2014, Deborra-lee launched Adopt Change and is leading the campaign to overhaul Australia’s anti-adoption culture and lobby for national adoption law reform.  As a World Vision ambassador, Deborra-lee has worked with world leaders, travelling through Asia and Africa to raise awareness of the global orphan crisis. Determined to use her profile to support causes close to her heart, Deborra-lee is focused on helping the thousands of Australian children needing loving homes. A passionate patron of the arts, Deborra-lee also established the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts in 2014 with a broad mission to nurture Australia’s rising stars.


Victoria

Rosie Batty - Domestic violence campaigner

Tyabb


52 years old

Rosie has risen above her personal tragedy and the great loss of her 11 year old son, Luke, who was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father in a very public assault. Rosie’s story jolted Australia into recognising that family violence can happen to anyone and she has given voice to many thousands of victims of domestic violence who had until then remained unheard. Rosie now champions efforts to fight domestic violence, making many media and public speaking appearances to shine a spotlight on the issue and call for systemic changes. Her incredible strength and selfless efforts are an inspiration to many other victims of domestic violence, while her courage and willingness to speak out will make Australia a far better and safer place.


Queensland

Hetty Johnston AM - Child protection activist

Cedar Creek

56 years old

As the founder of child protection charity, Bravehearts, Hetty is determined to make Australia the safest place in the world for children. She established Bravehearts in 1997 after learning her daughter had been sexually assaulted.  Since then, Hetty has dedicated her life to creating awareness that child sexual assault is largely preventable and encouraging the nation to prioritise the safety of children. Today, Hetty leads a team of more than 70 employees who provide therapeutic, educational and advocacy services across the nation. Hetty has worked tirelessly to bring attention to a topic that was once taboo and her work has resulted in major policy and legislative changes, as well as numerous inquiries across the nation. Hetty's tireless work has compelled Australia to address child sexual assault and support the thousands of children who are sexually assaulted each year. She remains passionate and determined in her fight for children and her legacy will be a safer nation in which to raise a child.


Western Australia

Professor Lyn Beazley AO - Scientist

Mount Claremont

70 years old

For Lyn, science has been a lifelong passion. After graduating from Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, Lyn has dedicated more than 30 years to the field of neuroscience, researching recovery from brain damage and changing clinical practice in the treatment of infants at risk from pre-term delivery. As Chief Scientist of Western Australia from 2006 to 2013, Lyn advised the state government on science, innovation and technology as well as fulfilling the role of science ambassador in Australia and internationally.  Lyn has been determined to demonstrate that science is not just a theoretical exercise, but a practical one too.  She helped set up a nationwide ‘hotline’ for laboratory technicians in schools, worked for healthier waterways across the state by establishing Dolphin Watch and was involved in the negotiations for the Square Kilometre Array, the radio telescope project that is arguably the world’s largest science endeavour.  Lyn’s goal is for every Australian child to learn and love science.

3/10

South Australia

Dr Gill Hicks MBE - Peace campaigner

Wayville


46 years old

When she was caught in an explosion, in the tunnel between London’s King’s Cross and Russell Square tube stations in July 2005, Gill’s injuries were so severe that paramedics couldn’t even identify her gender. The last person to be rescued alive from the train, Gill was given a tag describing her as ‘One Unknown - estimated female’.  Trapped in the chaos, her legs destroyed, Gill was close to death but made a vow to survive and make a difference. In the nine years since, that vow has never weakened and Gill has dedicated her life to working for world peace.  The founder of M.A.D. For Peace, Gill’s work concentrates on ending violent extremism and building sustainable peace. She is an inspiring motivational speaker, author, curator and trustee for several cultural organisations. Gill’s memoir, One Unknown, was the catalyst for a powerful play which premiered at the 2013 Adelaide Arts Festival. In January 2013, Gill gave birth to her daughter Amelie, which she calls “the second miracle” of her life.


Tasmania

Rodney Croome AM - Equality activist

South Hobart

50 years old

Walking into a Hobart police station with his partner in 1994, Rodney Croome confessed to a serious crime: homosexuality.  Rodney’s actions, reported the world over, were a major catalyst for the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania which Rodney took all the way to the High Court of Australia and the United Nations. A champion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in Tasmania and throughout Australia, Rodney has spent the past 26 years campaigning for decriminalisation, anti-discrimination protections, and the recognition of same-sex relationships and families, including marriage equality. He has also worked tirelessly to end discrimination and improve educational and health outcomes for LGBTI people, particularly those in rural and remote communities. The National Convenor for Australia Marriage Equality, Rodney has made many personal sacrifices in the face of hostility and ignorance, challenging homophobia in schools and in the police service, removing stigma and normalising relationships for same-sex attracted couples. Rodney embodies intelligence, courage, tenacity and vision and his life’s work has transformed Australia and improved the lives of thousands of LGBTI people and their families.


ACT

Glenn Keys - Business and philanthropic leader

Chapman


51 years old

A leader in both business and philanthropy, Glenn Keys believes in giving back.  A former Australian Defence Force test flight engineer, as managing director of global healthcare provider, Aspen Medical, Glenn puts corporate social responsibility at the heart of his business.  The company has its own foundation which uses a percentage of its profits to tackle major Australian health issues, particularly in Indigenous communities.  The parent of a child with an intellectual disability, Glenn is passionate about helping people with a disability to reach their potential.  As the Chairman of Special Olympics ACT, Glenn has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for athletes with a disability to develop physical fitness, gain skills and forge friendships.  An inaugural board member of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Glenn’s latest project is Project Independence, a housing initiative in partnership with the ACT Government that offers home ownership options for people with disability. Glenn is an active member of the Canberra Business Council and inspires other business leaders to incorporate community service into their busy professional lives. 

 

Northern Territory

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM - Humanitarian.

Utopia


77 years old

Growing up on the remote Utopia Station in the Northern Territory, Rosalie Kunoth‐Monks learnt the laws of her tribe, the Anmatjere people.  After moving to Alice Springs to attend school, Rosalie was cast in the lead role in the classic Australian film Jedda in 1953. Later, Rosalie spent a decade as a nun in a Melbourne convent before leaving to establish the first Aboriginal hostel in Victoria. In 1970 she married, settled in Alice Springs and became involved in social work and politics.  Since then, she has been a government adviser, an interpreter, an environmental campaigner and has chaired or contributed to many boards and councils devoted to Indigenous issues. Passionate about law, justice, education, children and youth affairs, Rosalie cares for other children besides her own and has an enduring commitment to her country and her community.  In defending her traditional way of life and her culture, Rosalie not only stands up for Indigenous people, but for all people and is respected nationwide.

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SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 – FINALISTS
New South Wales

Jackie French - Author

Araluen Valley

61 years old

Living in a shed and needing to register her car, Jackie wrote her first children’s book, Rainstones, in 1991. While her editor said it was the messiest, worst spelt manuscript ever received, the book was shortlisted for Children’s Book of the Year and Jackie’s career as a best-selling author began. One of the few writers to win both literary and children’s choice awards, Jackie has published 140 books in 32 languages and received more than 60 literary prizes for beloved children’s classics such as Diary of a Wombat. Overcoming dyslexia herself, Jackie is a tireless advocate for children with learning difficulties. As the current national Children’s Laureate, Jackie is travelling the country to promote literacy and share the transformational power of reading, creativity and story-telling in the lives of young Australians.

Passionate about the conservation of wildlife and our planet, 60 year old Jackie is also a director of

The Wombat Foundation that raises funds for research into the preservation of the endangered northern hairy nosed wombat.


Victoria

Professor Sam Berkovic AC - Neurologist

Caulfield North

61 years old

One of the world’s most respected neurologists, Professor Sam Berkovic’s seminal research has revolutionised understanding and approaches to human epilepsy. Sam’s original and meticulous research over 25 years has transformed diagnosis, enabled accurate genetic counselling and significantly improved treatment for patients. Sam’s work established the connection between genetics and epilepsy, with major global efforts now focused on gene discovery and understanding how genetic abnormalities cause seizures. Recognised at the highest international level, Sam has published more than 400 peer-reviewed articles relating to epilepsy and genetics; these have been cited in scientific publications more than 25,000 times. He is admired for his careful mentorship of young specialists, his leadership in building the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Austin Health, his work chairing international committees and his skill as a teacher and communicator. Now 61, Sam leads his field with wisdom, intellect and skill and his research has put Australia at the forefront of global research into epilepsy while improving the lives of people around the globe.


Queensland

Fred Hyde AM - Philanthropist

Warwick


94 years old

While most people slow down when they retire, 94 year old Fred Hyde has devoted the past three decades and all of his resources - personal, physical and financial - to rescuing and educating abandoned children in Bangladesh. After seeing the plight of children left orphaned after a tidal wave on Bhola Island in 1970, Fred later sold his house and poured all his savings into his not-for-profit organisation, Co-operation in Development. Since 1991, Fred has helped build 45 schools, five kindergartens, teacher training facilities for 165 teachers and, at present, there are 12,000 children attending Co-operation in Development schools. A humble but awe-inspiring leader, role model and mentor to many, Fred continues to spend six months of every year in Bangladesh directing projects that touch the lives of countless people in need.


Western Australia

Graham Mabury OAM - Radio presenter and social justice leader

Riverton


68 years old

For 33 years, Graham was a light in the darkness for hundreds of thousands of radio listeners in Perth. As the host of Radio 6PR’s popular Nightline program, 67 year old Graham was more than a voice across the airwaves, going above and beyond the call of duty to provide companionship and compassion, entertainment and encouragement for people from all walks of life. In 1986, Graham established Lifeline WA in response to community need for counselling services. From humble beginnings with just a couple of off-air counsellors in the 6PR building, Lifeline has since evolved into a 24-hour counselling and support service which reaches out to thousands of people in need. A pastor with the Mt Pleasant Baptist Church and patron of many charities, Graham is an advocate for social justice, helping the homeless, mentally ill and the lonely. Graham has worked with homeless young people, designed and implemented youth rehabilitation programs, directed major musical productions and charity fundraisers and has received many awards for his outstanding public service.

5/10

South Australia

John Swan - Musician and volunteer

Millswood

62 years old

An Australian rock legend, John, better known as ‘Swanee’, joined the Australian music scene when he was just

14 years old, performing first as a drummer, then as a singer with many of the nation’s iconic bands and as a successful solo artist. After living the rock and roll lifestyle for decades, Swanee, chose to clean up his act in 2000 and now helps young musicians to focus on creativity without drugs and alcohol. John’s generosity of spirit is as legendary as his voice. Twice a week, John rolls up his sleeves to help homeless people at his local Salvation Army sourcing the food which he serves to people in need. He is an ambassador for Ovarian Cancer SA and also a member of Music Matters which involves visiting hospitals to perform and bring joy to terminally-ill patients. Now 62 years of age, John donates his time to perform at countless fundraising balls, also raising money for kids who need lifesaving surgery. He is co-founder of the Autism Music Fund and his Swags for the Homeless charity helps people who are sleeping rough. Giving so much, John expects nothing in return.
Tasmania

Professor Henry Reynolds Historian

Richmond


76 years old

A pioneering historian, 76 year old Henry Reynolds is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on the history of Australia’s Indigenous people. Henry’s seminal book, The Other Side of the Frontier, published in 1981, was the first to see history from an Aboriginal perspective. An outspoken public intellectual, Henry was the first academic historian to champion Aboriginal land rights. Fighting for reconciliation at a time when it was not popular, Henry was not deterred by the backlash and his courage, tenacity and commitment inspired a generation of Aboriginal and white Australian activists to persevere in their campaign for Aboriginal land and other rights. Henry’s oral history project in the 1970s connected him with Eddie Mabo and greatly contributed to the High Court’s recognition of land rights. Henry’s 20-plus books have not only won a string of awards, they have encouraged young historians to embrace Aboriginal history, have enriched the nation’s understanding of our past and have pointed the way to a better future.


ACT

Sandra Mahlberg - Humanitarian and volunteer

Nicholls


62 years old

Opening her heart and her home to sick children, 62 year old Sandra Mahlberg is the ACT coordinator for Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC), a volunteer organisation that helps children from developing countries afflicted with severe medical conditions.  Sandra sources funding for accommodation and transport to and from Australia, draws on her wide network to seek voluntary contributions from surgeons and hospitals and coordinates the post-operative, pastoral care and selection of children who need corrective surgery for life-threatening but treatable conditions. She works tirelessly through the National ROMAC committee and with the ACT Government to bring children to Australia from countries including China, Timor-Leste, Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands – and she does this while maintaining her fulltime nursing job at Calvary Hospital. Since 2006, Sandra has hosted 15 children and their guardians in her home, supporting them for up to a year at a time.  Putting service before self, Sandra’s commitment to humanitarian endeavour is changing lives and is reinforcing Australia’s reputation as a caring society.


Northern Territory

Eddie Robertson - Elder and community leader

Yuendumu


65 years old

A peacemaker, statesman and strong family man, 65 year old Eddie Jampijinpa Robertson has been an inspirational and dedicated member of the Yuendumu community and the wider Warlpiri and Central Australian communities throughout his long lifetime. A respected elder, Eddie holds positions on many boards and is currently Chairperson of the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation. Eddie’s critical role addressing chronic petrol sniffing in Yuendumu continues to help save the lives of a generation of young people. In his challenging role as Indigenous Engagement Officer for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Eddie moves easily between two cultures. Yuendumu’s longest serving Mayor and a founding member of the Yuendumu Baptist Church, Eddie inspires his community, convening sporting events, supporting youth at risk and providing cultural mentoring. A leader willing to work with everyone, renowned for his ability to broker sound compromises, mediate conflict and lead by example, Eddie has an enduring commitment to improve the lives of the members of his community.


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YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 – FINALISTS
New South Wales

Genevieve Clay-Smith - Film maker and social entrepreneur

Monterey


26 years old

While other young filmmakers chase fame and fortune, Genevieve uses her skills to help people facing barriers to inclusion. Through her not-for-profit organisation, Bus Stop Films, which she runs voluntarily, Genevieve works with diverse and marginalised communities to create short films that voice their experiences. Genevieve hosts weekly filmmaking workshops and voluntarily provides mentorship and learning opportunities. In 2009, Genevieve’s inspiring film Be My Brother won first prize at Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival. The film, which explores the life of a man with Down Syndrome, was acclaimed for how it broke down social stigmas surrounding disability, whilst also engaging people with a disability to fulfil roles as crew members. I am Emmanuel, a short film examining the challenges faced by African Australian refugees, screened internationally in 2014. Genevieve donates all her spare time and talent to forge new pathways for inclusive employment in the film industry and to help sidelined Australians step into the spotlight.


Victoria

Thomas King - Environmental activist

Kalorama


18 years old

At age 13, Thomas became a real life hero in the campaign against unsustainable palm oil. After learning about the devastating environmental and social impacts of palm oil development in Borneo and Sumatra, Thomas created an online resource to help consumers avoid palm oil in everything from cosmetics to cleaning products.  SayNotoPalmOil.com now receives up to half a million visitors each year from 180 countries around the world. Having raised more than $25,000 towards rainforest protection and wildlife centres in Malaysia and Indonesia, Thomas has since branched out into other environmental, animal rights and humanitarian causes. Now 18, and an articulate, engaging and charismatic public speaker, Thomas works for Oaktree, Australian Teens Against Animal Cruelty and the Jane Goodall Institute as a change‐maker in human rights, environmental preservation and animal protection. A talented young journalist and filmmaker, Thomas has a passion for film and photography and uses this to communicate his message to a global audience.


Queensland

Yassmin Abdel-Magied - Engineer/social advocate

Sunnybank Hills

23 years old

Born in Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied moved to Australia when she was two and now devotes her extraordinary energy and talents to making Australia a better place.  At age 16, Yassmin founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally. Yassmin has forged a hybrid career as an engineer, social advocate and media commentator and she is a sought-after candidate for state and federal advisory groups.  Yassmin has sat on the Australian Multicultural Council, the Board of the Queensland Museum and the Design Council, contributed as a member of the Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group and was on the organising committee of the 2014 Youth G20 Summit. She was also the Team Principal and designer of the University of Queensland's race team. Her achievements across a number of fields provide positive proof that hard work, resilience and self-belief can reap rewards, regardless of gender, faith or cultural background. 


Western Australia

Drisana Levitzke-Gray - Deaf advocate

Balga


21 years old

The fifth generation in her family to be born deaf, Drisana Levitzke-Gray, is dedicated to helping other deaf people and advocating their human rights. Born with moderate hearing loss into a family with deaf parents, a deaf brother and a deaf extended family, Drisana cherishes her first language, Auslan. She promotes the deaf community as one without borders and one of rich language, culture, history and traditions. As the only Australian selected to attend the Frontrunners international deaf leadership course in 2012 and 2013, Drisana worked with communities in Europe and Samoa to expand leadership capacity and human rights understanding of deaf youth. In 2014, Drisana became the first deaf Auslan user to fulfil her civic duty as a juror. Drisana is the embodiment of the concept of ‘deaf gain’, not ‘hearing loss’, inspiring the deaf community, encouraging others to accept diversity and promoting a positive image of deafness which says loudly and proudly: “it is OK to be deaf”.

7/10

South Australia

Kristin Carson - Scientist

Somerton Park

30 years old

Scraping through Year 12 with barely a pass, Kristin was unable to study science at university. Undeterred, Kristin studied at TAFE while working multiple jobs as a research assistant.  Hard work eventually delivered a PhD in medicine and Kristin is now one of the youngest senior medical research scientists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is responsible for more than 40 projects and 25 researchers.  In the past five years, Kristin has produced 50

peer-reviewed publications and over 250 media citations, contributing to patient care, policy and practice both locally and internationally. With a specific interest in respiratory illnesses, Kristin’s research into patient self-management of asthma has been acknowledged and applied internationally. Kristin combines the theoretical with the practical, building a collaborative relationship with the Port Adelaide Football Club to roll out a program that encourages children to embrace healthy lifestyles.  Passionate about the role of science in society, Kristin actively mentors and encourages the next generation of scientists.
Tasmania

Adam Mostogl - Business mentor

Queenstown

26 years old

In any given week, Adam Mostogl might be helping young entrepreneurs to kick-start their companies, stimulating small businesses to challenge the status quo, challenging communities to understand their potential or teaching hundreds of students to embrace innovation to solve the problems of the future. Focused on empowering the community to create change, Adam established illuminate SDF in 2009 and partners with many organisations, including the University of Tasmania and the Australian Maritime College, to inspire young people to embrace their creativity, identify business solutions to simple problems and recalibrate their approaches to learning. Based in Queenstown, Adam is heavily involved in the Queenstown Heritage & Arts Festival as well as the local football club. Living by his motto that “if you want something done for the community, you need to get out and do it”, Adam inspires young people to realise their potential, unleash their creativity and seize the opportunities, because, as he says, “the world is ready.”


ACT

Patrick Mills - Basketball player and Indigenous community leader

26 years old

The first Indigenous Australian to win the most sought-after award in global basketball, Patrick Mills is at the top of his game. After winning an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, statistics in the Wall Street Journal revealed Patrick as the hardest working and fastest player in the NBA clocking up more distance per minute than any other player in the league. In 2012, Patrick led the scoring at the London Olympics, averaging 21.2 points per game with Australia’s national basketball team, the Boomers. It's a long way from the Canberra basketball stadium where Patrick cut his teeth and even further from the homemade basketball ring grandfather Sammy made on Thursday Island when Patrick was just two years old. While his basketball career has been spectacular, Patrick is most proud of the awareness he has created about his Indigenous heritage and is currently working on a documentary that showcases the culture and traditions of his people.
Northern Territory

Chantal Ober - Community leader

Katherine

25 years old

As a youth worker at Katherine YMCA, Chantal faces daunting challenges on a daily basis. Driven to make a difference, Chantal has implemented a number of initiatives – from the YMCA Girls Program that builds resilience and self-esteem to taking on the coordination of the Katherine Region Youth Group which encourages young people to speak up and become leaders in their community. Chantal’s selfless contributions do not stop with her paid work. Chantal volunteers her time to run the eight week shineGirl program in schools to help young girls gain self-worth, inner strength and purpose. She runs Youth Connect with her local church, in which she spearheads volunteer projects. As an Indigenous young person, Chantal is a vocal advocate and a role model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. Through all her work, both paid and voluntary, Chantal always leads by example and remains committed to helping young people build better lives.

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AUSTRALIA'S LOCAL HERO 2015 - FINALISTS
New South Wales

Kevin Robinson - Charity founder

Glenbrook

53 years old

With a career in the corporate world and a successful business under his belt, Kevin wanted to give back. In 2011, Kevin established Little Wings, a free, safe flight service that transports seriously ill children living in rural and regional New South Wales to specialist oncology facilities in Sydney. Armed with a pilot’s licence and a hired aircraft, Kevin completed his first flight in September 2012. Since then, he has built a charity that is delivering 250 flights with 600 passengers a year. Using his business savvy and his own funds, Kevin has attracted grants, corporate partners and a team of qualified pilots to volunteer their time to fly donated aircraft. By returning children home safely and quickly after treatment, Little Wings enhances quality of life, recovery and family cohesiveness for sick children. Kevin’s goal is to build a scalable model for a truly national service and to make a real difference to Australian families at the time of their greatest need.


Victoria

Louise Davidson - Breast cancer fundraiser

Balwyn


47 years old

When Louise Davidson’s three daughters were little, they gave her a special card every Mother’s Day which read: “Dear Mum, Happy Mother’s Day Classic.” Louise co-founded Australia’s largest national fun run and breast cancer fundraising event after her mother passed away from the disease. What started as a ‘walk in the park’ in 1998 has since grown into a major national community event, attracting 135,000 participants and raising $4.5 million in 2014 alone. With the help of her Women in Super colleagues, Louise worked as a volunteer event manager while bringing up young children. Today, Louise works as an investment manager in the superannuation industry, acts as voluntary Chair of the event she co-founded and remains an intrinsic part of the management team.  Louise’s vision, passion and determination inspires a team of six staff and an enormous group of volunteers who have raised $24.3 million over 16 years.  Louise has created a celebration of spirit and hope which funds research projects that are making a massive impact on the quality of life of thousands of Australians.


Queensland

Juliette Wright - Social entrepreneur

Camp Mountain

42 years old

Driven, inspired and relentlessly ambitious, Juliette Wright is on a mission to alleviate poverty across Australia.  Establishing an online platform in 2009 to connect those who have with those who need, Juliette is changing the face of how society helps its most vulnerable and marginalised people.  Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GIVIT, Juliette created the portal to ensure quality goods get to where they are most needed by safely connecting and inspiring an online network of givers. Juliette’s vision, hard work and determination have resulted in donations of more than 126,000 items to disadvantaged members of the Australian community. Juliette’s passion is supporting each community by ensuring local donors give to local residents in need.  In 2011, when Queensland was hit by devastating floods, GIVIT became the state government’s official website for matching donors and recipients – with 1.8 million hits resulting in 33,500 goods matched in three weeks.  Juliette's positive ‘can do’ attitude inspires others to embrace philanthropy and she has just launched GIVIT Kids, a safe online platform for children to give new or pre-loved belongings.
Western Australia

Stacy Dunbar - Road safety campaigner

Merriwa


33 years old

In January 2013, Stacy’s precious eight-month-old son, Nate, was killed after a drunk driver crashed through his bedroom while he was asleep in his cot. In the awful aftermath of the accident, Stacy launched a major campaign in conjunction with The West Australian and Channel 7 to stop people from getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink. The Pledge for Nate campaign attracted the support of sportspeople and celebrities and more than 8,000 people promised not to drink and drive over the 2013 Christmas period, contributing to the state recording its lowest rate of drink driving offences in more than 60 years. Stacy has become a strong advocate for improving road safety and is working with politicians and local councils to erect crash barriers at dangerous intersections. In the face of great loss, Stacy showed tremendous courage and dignity and responded to a terrible tragedy with an unswerving commitment to make her community a safer place to live.

9/10

South Australia

Vince Coulthard - Indigenous elder

Port Augusta

57 years old

A proud Adnyamathanha man, Vince began working for his people at a time when genuine bravery and personal fortitude were required. Vince honed his strong advocacy skills at a very early age when he accompanied his grandfather to land rights meetings. Later, as Chairperson of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association, Vince led the development of South Australia’s first Native Title claim over the Flinders Ranges, which was awarded in 2009. Director of Umeewarra Aboriginal Media Service in Port Augusta for two decades, Vince protects and conserves the cultural identity of his people and has fulfilled many leadership positions, including nine years as a regional councillor for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. At the heart of Vince’s philosophy is the recognition of the dignity and worth of every human being. A man of quiet dignity, personal warmth, extensive knowledge, unparalleled personal initiative and unwavering courage, Vince has enriched the lives not only of his own community, but of all Australians.


Tasmania

Mary Kay - Volunteer radio operator

Smithton


78 years old

Each morning at 6am, marine radio operator Mary Kay bids boaters good morning. Mary, who has operated the Smithton Coast Guard radio for 18 years from her home, starts each day forecasting weather reports and taking positions from boaters and fishermen out on the waters of the Bass Strait. She does the same again at 8am and 5pm and is available throughout the day to record positions, announce weather warnings and engage in a bit of banter. Mary receives around 5,000 calls a year, answering the distress signals of fishermen and sailors, helping the police and coastguard with rescues, notifying customs of suspicious activities and saving lives. Mary’s ‘job’ brings many challenges, as it’s not always smooth sailing around Circular Head and on any given day in summer she takes up to 50 calls. Mary’s calm voice echoes across the airwaves day in and day out and while her job is purely voluntary, she's paid in satisfaction and lives saved.


ACT

Damian De Marco - Child sexual assault campaigner

Wallaroo


46 years old

A symbol of courage for child abuse victims and their families, Damian De Marco spent four decades fighting to prevent other children from sharing his experience.  After he was sexually assaulted by a Marist Brother in the 1980s, Damian battled for the perpetrator to be removed from the education system and brought to justice.  Rejecting anonymity and risking his own reputation, Damian then began to speak out publically to expose the systemic failure that protected paedophiles at the expense of children. In 2014, Damian bravely appeared before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; his evidence uncovered the inadequate responses of both the school and law enforcement authorities, and contributed to a new understanding of the grave errors of the past and how to prevent them from occurring in the future.  With great strength of character and resilience, Damian stood tall for others to right the dreadful wrongs of the past.


Northern Territory

Ray Palmer - Veterans’ champion.

Marlow Lagoon

56 years old

After serving in the Royal Australian Air Force for 22 years, Ray was extremely proud when his son, Scott, became a Commando with the Australian Army.  Scott was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed in a helicopter crash in 2010.  Since then, Ray has worked tirelessly to help other parents of the fallen and the hundreds of servicemen and women who return with physical and psychological wounds. Ray has walked 400 kilometres in the Territory heat, cycled across the Nullarbor Plain and shaved his moustache to raise awareness and funds for the Commando Trust Fund.  Reaching out to support a new generation of Australian war veterans, Ray has accompanied wounded soldiers along the Kokoda Trail four times. An inspiration and a lifeline, Ray has put aside his own grief to provide guidance, counselling and mentoring for others.  Ray’s story is one of a dad and an active community member who has turned his personal tragedy into selfless action for others.


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