Australians of the Year 2017 : AOTYA winners

Media :  AOTYA : Facebook : Twitter : Youtube


The Australian of the Year Awards is a program of the National Australia Day Council, presented in partnership with state and territory affiliate organisations.   Each year Australia celebrates the achievement and contribution of eminent citizens through the Australian of the Year Awards. These leading citizens  have inspired and contributed to the society through their achievements and challenge others to make go make similar or better contributions ;  creating a better Australia in the process.

For every award year , recognitions are  usually doled out in four categories which include: 
– Australian of the Year
– Senior Australian of the Year (60 years and over)
– Young Australian of the Year (16 to 30 years)
– Australia’s Local Hero

This prestigious year round program culminates in the announcement of the national award recipients on the eve of Australia Day on the lawns of Parliament House.  To keep the spot light on them , the more, for their amazing contributions ,  @ausqueery compiled  the list of winners and achievements  from around the states and territories around australia for your reading pleasure.



Paris Aristotle AM (Anti-torture and refugee advocate )

  • An advocate for refugees and asylum seekers, Paris Aristotle has made an enormous contribution by helping countless people rebuild their lives in Australia after surviving torture and trauma in their countries of origin. In 1988, Paris began building the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, also known as Foundation House. Now leading a team of more than 200 staff, he has helped refugees recover from unspeakable trauma, through a range of mental health, health, advocacy, educational and community services.

Lois Peeler AM ( Indigenous Educator )

  • A member of the Sapphires, Lois Peeler is also a political activist, passionate educator and principal at Australia’s only Aboriginal girls’ boarding school. Lois has worked in a range of roles in Indigenous affairs and currently chairs the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee. At Worawa Aboriginal College in Victoria’s Healesville, Lois welcomes students from some of Australia’s most remote regions, many of whom have been exposed to trauma and dysfunction in their young lives.

Jason Ball ( Diversity and inclusion champion )

  • In 2012 Jason Ball harnessed the national spotlight when he became the first Aussie Rules player at any level of the game to come out. With no openly gay players at the elite AFL level his announcement was a game changer in the hyper-masculine sport and Jason’s story quickly captured the media’s attention and the public’s imagination.

Vicki Jellie ( Community fundraiser ) 

  • After her husband Peter died of cancer in 2008, Vicki Jellie found his plans for a local cancer fundraising event. His dream had been to bring radiotherapy services to the South West of Victoria. During treatment, Peter spent weeks away from home in Warrnambool, travelling to Melbourne for radiotherapy treatment. Peter’s dream became Vicki’s passion. In 2009, Vicki brought together local leaders to initiate Peter’s Project – a community group dedicated to fighting for better cancer services.



Alan Tongue ( Youth mentor and educator )

  • Alan began applying his talents to help young people at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre make the most of the cards they’d been dealt. Alan created the Aspire program to rehabilitate young people and equip them with life skills to make positive choices. Alan travels throughout the ACT and NSW to educate football players and High School students about how they can eradicate family violence, and he is partnering with Barnardos to teach young people how to build healthy and respectful relationships.

Dick Telford (Sports scientist and coach)

  •  Dick Telford has coached distance runners to eight Commonwealth Games medals, four being gold, as well as coaching Australia’s only Olympic marathon medallist, Lisa Ondieki. While his sustained coaching success has propelled him into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, Dick’s pioneering research into the ‘physical literacy’ of Australian children is equally deserving of a gold medal. As the director of the National Lifestyle of Our Kids Study, Dick’s work has shown that quality physical education led not only to better health, but to better NAPLAN results.

Heidi Prowse ( Cystic Fibrosis champion ) 

  • When the man she loved told her he had cystic fibrosis, Heidi Prowse didn’t shy away. Instead, Heidi put her positive attitude and problem-solving skills to great use, volunteering for Cystic Fibrosis ACT, and, together with husband Andrew, organised the inaugural Santa Speedo Shuffle. The event, which started with seven friends braving chilly conditions to circle Lake Burley Griffin in speedos and Santa hats, has collected $360,000 in just four years.

Stasia Dabrowski OAM ( Soup kitchen volunteer )

  • Best known as the ‘soup kitchen lady’, Stasia Dabrowski has been serving Canberra’s neediest for nearly four decades. Despite passing the 90-year milestone, Stasia shows no signs of slowing down. Stasia runs a mobile soup kitchen in Civic – something she’s done relentlessly, rain, hail or shine since 1979. She peels and cooks 180 kilograms of vegetables Thursday night’s, feeding up to 500 people on a busy Friday night.




Andrea Mason (Indigenous leader ) 

  • Working across a 350,000 square kilometre stretch of central Australia, Andrea Mason is helping Indigenous women to raise strong, healthy children. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Ngaayatjarra, Pitjanjatjarra and Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Andrea brings together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal thinking to create employment, support health and wellbeing, and tackle domestic violence and other social challenges.

Sister Anne Gardiner AM ( Community champion ) 

  • As a 22-year-old member of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Sister Anne Gardiner was asked to move to Bathurst Island to live among the Tiwi people. In the 62 years since, Sr Anne has devoted her life to enriching community, enhancing opportunity and supporting the Tiwi culture. The Principal of the local primary school, Sr Anne has educated generations of children while also establishing community clubs, from mothers’ groups to Little Athletics. She runs regular prayer meetings, founded an op shop and established a café to raise funds to support her much-loved community.

Bridie Duggan ( Healthy living advocate )

  • Shocked by the suicide of a close friend in her hometown of Katherine, Bridie Duggan decided to take action. Setting herself an extreme challenge, Bridie travelled around Darwin, each day for a month and raising $27,000 for the Livin Foundation in the process. A qualified life coach and personal trainer with a degree in exercise and sports science and currently studying her Masters of Physiotherapy, Bridie inspires people to strive for healthy mind, body and spirit.

Tejinder Pal Singh ( Food van founder )

  •  Tejinder Pal Singh has dedicated the last Sunday of each month to feeding poor and needy locals of northern Darwin. After a gruelling 12-hour shift driving a taxi, Tejinder spends five hours cooking up a storm in his kitchen, preparing 80 kilograms of vegetarian curry and rice which he then serves as a free lunch.




Deng Adut ( Lawyer and  former refugee ) 

  • Deng’s life journey has taken him from an illiterate child soldier to a criminal lawyer making a difference in Western Sydney. Now studying for a second Master’s degree, Deng co-founded AC Law Group and fights for members of the Sudanese community from his home in Blacktown. Deng inspires others with his story of triumph over tragedy, and of the contributions that refugees can make to Australia’s rich community.

Dr John Knight AM   ( Doctor and altruist )

  •  He is Australia’s first celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight AM has spent decades amassing a residential property portfolio that supports elderly Australians. In 1973, John and his late wife Noreen established Medi-Aid Centre Foundation, a charity that provides accommodation for the elderly, particularly those who are frail, have no family support and no home.

Arthur Alla  (Reconciliation champion ) 

  •  Arthur set up Red Earth, an organisation that gives Indigenous Australians from remote homelands a way to host young people from the city.  Aboriginal children make friends and gain insights into life in the city, while visiting high school students open their hearts to first Australians. Arthur’s work has connected 1,100 students who have contributed 25,000 hours to projects and raised more than half a million dollars for communities.

Josephine Peter  (Volunteer )

  • Over the course of World War II, Josephine made 450 pairs of socks, starting a lifetime of dedication to others. Since then, she’s been a stalwart on parents’ committees and arts societies. She’s handed out how to vote cards at elections for 54 years. She sat on the board of Broken Hill’s Robinson College for 25 years, with seven years as president, and she was a volunteer tutor for more than a decade.



Professor Alan Mackay-Sim ( Biomolecular scientist )

  • An inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim has given hope to thousands of Australians with spinal cord injuries. As the director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research for a decade, Alan’s research has championed the use of stem cells to understand the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia .

Professor Perry Bartlett FAA (Neuroscientist ) 

  • A pioneering neuroscientist, Professor Perry Bartlett has made ground-breaking progress in the discovery of how the human brain can be regenerated through stimulating the production of new nerve cells. Perry’s work offers the potential to change the course of treatment and management of dementia and depression. Perry discovered the brain could produce new nerves in 1992, overturning traditional dogma and transforming the way we think of the brain.

Taj Pabari ( Inventor and social entrepreneur ) 

  • Taj Pabari is a young inventor and social entrepreneur taking the world by storm. Describing his idea as the ‘LEGO of the 21st century’, Taj cleverly combines hardware, software and education, enabling children to not just consume the world we live in but to create it. The Fiftysix build-it-yourself tablet and coding kit is as easy as a puzzle and as engaging as a computer game, and is being used in schools around the world.

Yasmin Khan ( Diversity champion ) 

  • Yasmin Khan creates connections and breaks down barriers to show how Muslims have made a great contribution to our nation.A vocal commentator on domestic violence in multicultural communities, Yasmin has established a support centre for Muslim women and women from the Indian sub- continent, regardless of their religion.



Rosalie Martin ( Speech pathologist ) 

  • Helping prisoners crack the code of reading, speech pathologist Rosalie Martin has developed a unique approach to literacy. For three years, Rosalie has visited Tasmania’s Risdon Prison as a volunteer to deliver Just Sentences, a pilot project that is achieving astounding results. After founding speech pathologist of Chatter Matters Tasmania – a charity building awareness and skill in human communication – Rosie also runs her own private practice specialising in services for children with autism spectrum disorder. With patience and persistence, Rosie is helping others to open new doors and explore new worlds.

Margaret Steadman ( Sustainable living advocate ) 

  • A climate and sustainable living advocate, Margaret Steadman finds practical solutions to many of our most challenging conundrums. A founding member of Climate Action Hobart and the West Hobart Environment Network and a Council member of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Margaret has worked to influence the development of a climate action plan for the Tasmanian Government. She was the Hobart coordinator for the global People’s Climate March in the lead-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, and has organised local lobbying of banks to divest of climate-damaging investments.

Mitch McPherson ( Suicide prevention leader )

  • Mitch has channelled his energy and ideas into SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY, which honours his brother Ty and spreads the message that it’s OK to not be OK. Starting with bumper stickers, Mitch has since raised more than $250,000 through running events, golf days and gala balls. Now working full-time as a youth suicide prevention project officer with Relationships Australia Tasmania, Mitch’s vision is that SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY will become a national charity.

Anthony Edler ( Youth worker )

  • A community leader and positive role model, Anthony Edler is driving a program that helps disadvantaged and at- risk young people in his community, while also expanding the possibilities for people in Namibia. The program coordinator of the Risdon Vale Bike Collective, Ant combines his knowledge and skills of mountain biking and youth work to help young people fix broken-down bikes while developing life and employment skills and making a positive contribution to society. With patience and passion, Ant has built links with funding bodies and businesses, schools and charities. He’s helped young kids gain support and confidence, as well as the satisfaction of giving to others in need.




Andrew Forrest ( Philanthropist and anti-slavery advocate ) 

  •  Andrew Forrest drives hands-on philanthropy, leading Australian initiatives for some 250 community strengthening causes. He is the first Australasian to pledge to give away the overwhelming majority of his wealth. His highly successful Fortescue Metals Group is Australia’s largest sponsor of Aboriginal businesses and employment.

Peter Kenyon ( Social entrepreneur )

  • A community enthusiast and social entrepreneur, Peter Kenyon has worked with more than 1,600 communities in Australia and 59 overseas to stimulate economic renewal. Motivated by the desire to create healthy, inclusive and enterprising local economies, in 1989 Peter started Bank of I.D.E.A.S (Initiatives for the Development of Enterprising Action and Strategies). Since then, he’s helped communities spark their own ideas and invest in themselves to build a sustainable future.

Abdullahi Alim  ( Social innovator )

  • Abdullahi Alim co-founded an innovation lab to solve issues of contemporary concern. Abdullahi came to Australia as a Somali refugee at the age of five. At 23, he is pursuing studies through Stanford University. Now, through the Lighthouse Strategy, Abdullahi runs ‘hackathons’ – fast-paced and intense exercises that bring bright young innovators together to develop solutions to global challenges. Abdullahi’s approach has attracted partners from the Australian Government to Google and the US Department of State.

June Oscar AO ( Community and social wellbeing campaigner ) 

  •  June Oscar upset businesses and even members of her own extended family when she began the tough work of securing alcohol restrictions in her community in 2007. But those restrictions acted as a circuit-breaker for a town in crisis. Frequent alcohol-fuelled violence and suicide had cast a shadow over Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley when June enlisted the support of West Australian PoliceCommissioner Karl O’Callaghan to lobby for a ban on full-strength takeaway alcohol.




Kate Swaffer  ( Dementia advocate )

  • A humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, just before her 50th birthday. Refusing to be defeated by the diagnosis, Kate has helped redefine the way the world views dementia and has driven improvements to services and outcomes for the 354,000 Australians currently diagnosed. Since then, Kate has completed three degrees and is currently undertaking her PhD. As Chair, CEO and Co-founder of Dementia Alliance International, Kate is a voice for the 47.5 million people worldwide living with dementia.

Patricia Buckskin PSM  ( Educator ) 

  •  Patricia Buckskin grew up in a family of eight children in South Australia’s Riverland. Her lifelong passion for Aboriginal education was sparked in 1972, when she was appointed to Mansfield Park Primary School as its first Aboriginal teacher aide. After decades spent encouraging Aboriginal parents to have a voice in their children’s schooling, Pat continues to contribute by working tirelessly on committees and councils to ensure all children have access to quality, enriching education.

Paul Vasileff  ( Fashion designer ) 

  • Paul Vasileff stitched his first dress at the tender age of 11, created countless formal dresses for friends in his teens and was just 16 when he showcased his first fashion collection. Paul’s luxurious hand-made creations are favourites on the world’s runways, are stocked in boutiques in New York and around the globe, and are worn by celebrities walking the red carpet at the Oscars and Logies. Determined to create a local brand, all Paul’s designs are stitched in South Australia, and he has proven that there’s no need to relocate to succeed in the high-octane world of fashion.

Reginald George Heading  ( Agriculturalist ) 

  •  In 1976, George was involved with for air freighting hundreds of stud dairy cattle to India after they were gifted by the Australian Government to aid herd improvement. George reported to the media that the Friesians travelled “cattle class” – creating the well-worn phrase that jetsetters know today. During his long career, George spent 25 years working in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and Bhutan to equip local farmers with technical and practical knowledge, helping them apply modern Australian dryland farming techniques to improve the sustainability of their pastures and the health of their livestock.