The announcement of the 2017 Australian of the Year holds more significance than ever in a timeÂ of global change and uncertainty, according to deputy chair of the National Australia Day Council, Robbie Sefton. The Tamworth businesswoman believes the leadership offered by this yearâ€™s winners of Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australiaâ€™s Local Hero will help the nation tackle the challenges it faces both at home and abroad.
“We can safely say â€“ in my opinion â€“ that weâ€™re in a time of great political uncertainty as 2017 gets underway. The heatâ€™s on â€“ not just physically (with Sydney and other parts of NSW on course to recording the hottest January ever) â€“ but politically and culturally. Public unrest and division over the election of Trump in the USA and Britainâ€™s decision to leave the European Union are all contributing to a sense of global unease.
Which is why I believe that this weekâ€™s announcement of the 2017 Australian of the Year has more relevance than ever. The Awards choose four inspiring winners in the categories of Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, and Australiaâ€™s Local Hero. The nominees are the people who have won their state or territory awards in those categories.
Iâ€™ve been a member of the National Australia Day Council since 2010, Deputy Chair for the past two years, and have served on the Australia Day Council of NSW (a separate body) since 2006. Helping choose the winners is one of my favourite tasks. Because of this: I know the stories of what these incredible people are doing to make a positive difference in Australian life. I hear about their courage, tenacity, resilience, creativity and vision. I hear about people who wonâ€™t be stopped, no matter what â€“ and who take others along on their journeys to improve Australian life.
Personally, Iâ€™m delighted that 11 of the 32 finalists hail from rural and regional Australia â€“ my heartland. Iâ€™m always encouraging rural Australians to nominate the inspiring people they know â€“ those who are doing extraordinary things in their local communities â€“ and itâ€™s wonderful to see such a strong showing this year. In a world dominated by political differences and conflicts, this is a group of people who are leaders, not politicians. They focus on bringing about much-needed change in their own worlds, where they have influence. Their focus is on how they can contribute, and how they can bring others along on the journey.
The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP Prime Minister of Australia officially announced our 2017 Australians of the Year, and the announcement ceremony was hosted by Jeremy Fernandez and Myf Warhurst.Â For more details check out www.australianoftheyear.org.au
Oh â€“ and donâ€™t forget the electrifying Australia Day Address, made on Tuesday by Professor Michelle Simmons â€“ an outstanding scientist who begins her story by describing her rough schooling in a southeast London comprehensive where one per cent of students passed their A-levels, and her surprising journey to the podium today. You can read or watch Professor Simmons at:
I commend both the address and the awards to you as offering much-needed hope in a climate of fear and uncertainty.