Yamatiji elder Frank Mallard has been named Western Australian Senior of the Year, while basketballer and researcher Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker is Western Australia Local Hero for 2019.
The two received the awards from WA Governor Kim Beazley at a WA Australian of the Year Award ceremony at Government House in Perth Tuesday night.
Mr Mallard, 73, is an elder, ex-serviceman and volunteer and an ambassador and advocate for the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women.
Part of the Stolen Generation, he served in the Australian army from 1962 to 1985, and in the Army Reserves from 1986 to 1999.
He saw active duty in Borneo and Vietnam – but on returning home, like other Aboriginal soldiers, was rejected by the RSL.
This spurred him to promote the military service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within Veterans’ Affairs and the broader community.
Despite Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Parkinson’s disease, Mr Mallard is today the media officer at Ellenbrook RSL and a veterans’ issues volunteer.
He is also the chairperson of Voice of the Voiceless Ministry, which helps people with addiction, mental illness and social issues.
In 2015, he received a Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation as a member of the 1RAR Group, and was City of Swan Citizen and Senior Citizen of the Year in 2018.
Meanwhile, basketballer and researcher Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker is Western Australia Local Hero.
The Whadjuk Traditional Owner, Curtin University Professor, children’s author and mother-of-three, is passionate about helping children build their confidence and improve their social, physical and emotional wellbeing through sport.
The overall WA Australian of the Year is cave diver Dr Craig Challen who was part of the international team that rescued 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai in Thailand in July.
Mr Beazley said the awards celebrated Australia’s finest.
“Australians who go above and beyond to make a difference and create a better community for us all,” he said.
Mr Mallard and Ms Kickett-Tucker will travel to Canberra for the national awards in January.