The 2021 Australian of the Year Awards have been announced and there are plenty of deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander winners.
Australian Capital Territory
Senior Australian of the Year: Patricia Anderson AO
The Alyawarre woman, 76, is an advocate for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She has chaired multiple organisations, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council.
Anderson is an advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the inaugural patron of the Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia and has presented to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples.
She holds many accolades, including the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Medal, a Westpac 100 Women of Influence Award, a NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary doctorate and an Order of Australia Medal.
New South Wales
Senior Australian of the Year: Isabel Reid
A Wiradjuri Elder, Reid is the oldest living survivor of the Stolen Generation. Reid was born in 1932 and she and her sister were taken to Cootamundra Domestic Training Home, becoming domestic servants with their wages paid to the NSW Government.
Raising awareness of the Stolen Generations, in 2013 Reid was appointed an inaugural member of the Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation and in 2016, she became an inaugural member and Chair of the Stolen Generations Advisory Committee.
Reid was also a key player in the NSW Government’s $74 million reparation package for those forcibly removed.
Senior of the Year: Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM
Dr Ungunmerr Baumann AM is a respected Elder from Nauiyu. She made history in 1975 becoming the Territory’s first qualitied Aboriginal teacher.
She was appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council and in 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation. The 73-year-old has an Order of Australia Media and an honorary PhD in Education from Charles Darwin University.
Young Australian of the Year: Stuart McGrath
An Aboriginal health practitioner, McGrath is set to become the first Yolngu registered nurse.
The 29-year-old had a nomadic upbringing in remote Indigenous communities; he completed his schooling and studied in Darwin.
McGrath completed his first year of a Bachelor of Nursing remotely, whilst working full-time and raising his two daughters. He was part of developing the Ask the Specialist podcast, alongside Menzies School of Health Research.
Senior Australian of the Year: Aunty McRose Elu
A Torres Strait Islander Elder, Elu is an advocate for her community and Reconciliation. She played a critical role in negotiations for the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa Act 2020 (Qld).
Elu, 75, advocates around the impact of climate change on the Torres Strait, speaking at the UN and to business and political leaders.
She is a member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARCC) and also works as a translator for Torres Strait Islander communities enabling easier accessibility of services and lobbies funding for community development.
Australian of the Year: Tanya Hosch
Hosch was the first Indigenous person and second woman appointed to the AFL executive.
The 49-year-old is an advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart being a member of the Referendum Council.
Hosch instigated a review of the anti-vilification policy within the code and fought for an apology for Adam Goodes from the AFL, helping to deliver a new industry framework aimed to stop racism in the game.
Australian of the Year: Donna Stolzenberg
Stolzenberg is the CEO of the National Homeless Collective (NHC), a keynote speaker and trainer. The NHC is a grassroots organisation assisting those affected by homelessness, domestic violence and social disadvantage.
Through her leadership, the NHC directs six sub-charities: Period Project, School Project, Plate Up Project, Sleeping Bags for Homelessness, and Secret Women’s Business.
NHC also facilitates Kala Space, an op shop employing women affected by domestic and family violence or homelessness.
Australian of the Year: Professor Helen Milroy
Professor Milroy was Australia’s first Indigenous doctor and an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry.
The 61-year-old has played a key role various mental health advisory committees and boards, including the National Mental Health Commission.
From 2013 to 2017, she was a Commissioner for the Australian Government’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
She was also the first Indigenous Commissioner to the Australian Football League. In 2018, she received the Australian Indigenous Doctor of the Year Award.
Senior Australian of the Year: Dr Richard Walley OAM
A champion of Wadjuk and Noongar people, Dr Walley guides people and organisations in their Reconciliation journey and reinvigorated the practice of the modern-day Welcome to Country on Noongar Country, which is now a practice common across Australia.
Dr Walley is also a musician, performer and artist. The 67-year-old’s designs feature on jerseys in the Indigenous rounds of sporting events. He has received numerous honours including an Order of Australia, Honorary Doctorate, and WA Citizen of The Year.
By Rachael Knowles