Six of the eight finalists for the 2015 Australian of the Year Award and more than half of the 32 finalists across all four award categories, are women. This is the highest number of female finalists in the Australian of the Year Award category since the State and Territory award process was introduced in 2003.
Winners of the 2015 Australian of the Year Awards will be announced on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra at 6pm (AEDT) on Sunday 25 January 2015. You can watch the awards announcement live on ABC TV and ABC News 24, and via live streaming at australianoftheyear.org.au and ABC iView. The awards will also be broadcast on ABC Local Radio.
Finalists for Australian of the Year 2015 Award
Since 1960 our nation has celebrated the achievement and contribution of eminent citizens through the Australian of the Year Awards. The awards profile leading Australians who are role models for us all. The finalists for the 2015 Australian of the Year Award are:
Deborra-lee Furness (NSW), Child advocate and adoption campaigner
Actor, director and producer, Deborra-lee Furness is fighting for the rights of children in Australia and around the world. Recognising the need to help abandoned and vulnerable children, the mother of two adopted children herself, established National Adoption Awareness Week in 2008. 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.
Rosie Batty (Vic), Domestic violence campaigner
Rosie Batty 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. 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.
Hetty Johnston AM (QLD), Child protection activist
Founder of child protection charity, Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston is determined to make Australia the safest place in the world for children. Hetty 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.
Professor Lyn Beazley AO (WA), Scientist
As Western Australia’s Chief Scientist from 2006 to 2013, Lyn advised governments on science and innovation, worked closely with industry and was a science ambassador in Australia and internationally. She helped establish a nationwide ‘hotline’ for school laboratory technicians, worked for healthier waterways by establishing Dolphin Watch, spearheaded a program supplying microscopes to over 450 primary schools and introduced the international science communication competition Famelab to Australia.
Dr Gill Hicks MBE (SA), Peace campaigner
When she was blown up in the tunnel between London’s King’s Cross and Russell Square tube stations in July 2005, Dr Gill Hicks’ injuries were so severe that paramedics couldn’t even identify her gender. 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, 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.
Rodney Croome AM (TAS), Equality activist
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.
Glenn Keys (ACT), Business and philanthropic leader
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 attack major Australian health issues, particularly in Indigenous communities. The parent of a child with an intellectual disability, Glenn is passionate about helping people with disability reach their potential.
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (NT), Humanitarian
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.
Finalists for 2015 Senior Australian of the Year Award
The Senior Australian of the Year Award recognises those Australians aged 60 and over who continue to achieve and contribute. The award commenced in the International Year of Older Persons in 1999.
- Jackie French (NSW), Author
- Professor Sam Berkovic AC (VIC), Neurologist
- Fred Hyde AM (QLD), Philanthropist
- Graham Mabury OAM (WA), Radio presenter and social justice leader
- John Swan (SA), Musician and volunteer
- Professor Henry Reynolds (TAS), Historian
- Sandra Mahlberg (ACT), Humanitarian and volunteer
- Eddie Robertson (NT), Elder and community leader
Finalists for 2015 Young Australian of the Year Award
The Young Australian of the Year Award recognises those aged 16 to 30 who are outstanding and exceptional young Australians. The Young Australian of the Year has been awarded since 1979.
- Genevieve Clay-Smith (NSW), Film maker and social entrepreneur
- Thomas King (VIC), Environmental activist
- Yassmin Abdel-Magied (QLD), Engineer and social advocate
- Drisana Levitzke-Gray (WA), Deaf advocate
- Kristin Carson (SA), Scientist
- Adam Mostogl (TAS), Business mentor
- Patrick Mills (ACT), Basketball superstar
- Chantal Ober (NT), Community leader
Finalists for 2015 Australia’s Local Hero Award
The Local Hero Award was introduced into the Australian of the Year Awards in 2003. It acknowledges extraordinary contributions made by Australians in their local community.
- Kevin Robinson (NSW), Charity founder
- Louise Davidson (VIC), Breast cancer fundraiser
- Juliette Wright (QLD),
- Western Australia – Stacy Dunbar
- South Australia – Vince Coulthard
- Tasmania – Mary Kay
- Australian Capital Territory – Damian De Marco
- Northern Territory – Ray Palmer
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit the website australianoftheyear.org.au