Congratulations to Rosie Batty, winner of the Australian of the Year Award for 2015.
It was ladies night at this year’s Australian of the Year Awards with all four award categories being won by women – the first time in the history of the awards this has happened. Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year. Popular children’s author Jackie French won the Senior Australian of the Year Award and deaf advocate Drisana Levitzke-Gray was named Young Australian of the Year. Juliette Wright was named Australia’s Local Hero for her charity work.
There wasn’t a dry eye on the lawns of Parliament House after Rosie Batty delivered her acceptance speech for the Australian of the Year Award. Rosie dedicated her award to her “beautiful son Luke”, who was brutally murdered by his father at a children’s cricket match just over a year ago. After losing her 11 year old son in horrific circumstances, Rosie Batty gave a face and a voice to the thousands of victims of domestic violence who’s stories do not make national news headlines. Today, Rosie devotes much of her time and energy to campaigning for changes to the legal system that failed to protect her son from a violent father.
Senior Australian of the Year Jackie French, is much more than an author of children’s books, she is also a tireless advocate for children with learning difficulties. After overcoming dyslexia herself, Jackie published 140 books in 32 languages and received more than 60 literary prizes for beloved children’s classics such as Diary of a Wombat. As the current national Children’s Laureate, Jackie travels the country to promote literacy and share the transformational power of reading. Passionate about conservation of our native wildlife, 61 year old Jackie is also a director of The Wombat Foundation which raises funds for research into the preservation of the endangered northern hairy nosed wombat.
The fifth generation in her family to be born deaf, Young Australian of the Year Drisana Levitzke-Gray, is dedicated to helping other deaf people. Drisana promotes the deaf community as one without borders that is rich with language, culture, history and traditions. As the only Australian selected to attend the Frontrunners international deaf leadership course in 2012 and 2013, Drisana has worked with communities in Europe and Samoa and in 2014, she became the first deaf Auslan user to fulfil her civic duty as a juror. Drisana was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Young Australian of the Year Award because she embodies the concept of ‘deaf gain’, not ‘hearing loss’, inspiring the deaf community, encouraging others to accept diversity and promoting a positive image of deafness.
Australia’s Local Hero Juliette Wright is the Founder and CEO of GIVIT, an online platform which is changing the way society helps its most vulnerable and marginalised people. In 2011, when Queensland was hit by devastating floods, GIVIT became the state government’s official website for matching donors and recipients – with 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 to kids in need.
Congratulations to all the winners and to all the men and women finalists for this year’s national awards. We are proud of each and every one of you!