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2021 AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS

Each year our nation celebrates the achievement and contribution of eminent Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all.

They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia.

The Australian of the Year Awards provides all Australians with the opportunity to recognise someone who makes them proud.

Nominations for the 2021 Awards have now closed. It’s easy to nominate now for the 2022 Awards, just complete the online nomination form at australianoftheyear.org.au.

The 2021 nominees are among 128 people being recognised across all states and territories as part of the program, which began in 1960. 

The 2021 four award recipients from South Australia were announced on the evening of Monday 12 October 2020 in a ceremony at Adelaide Oval and also available to watch online via livestream.

They will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the national awards announcement on 25 January 2021. 

Discover the stories of our extraordinary South Australian award nominees and recipients.  

 

 

 

 

SA AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT

Tanya Hosch

Leader, change maker and visionary

Tanya Hosch is the first Indigenous person and second woman appointed to the AFL executive. She has held leadership roles in sport, the arts, culture, social justice and public policy.

One of the pre-eminent Indigenous leaders pursuing constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Nations people, Tanya’s principled leadership is transforming the AFL – advancing women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, gender-diverse Australians and the entire community.

Tanya championed the first Indigenous player statue of Nicky Winmar and instigated a review of anti-vilification policy within the code. She helped secure an apology for Adam Goodes from the AFL and delivered a new industry framework to help prevent racist treatment of players.

Tanya also helped found advocacy organisation The Indigenous Players Alliance. She drove a new respect and responsibility policy enabling women to seek redress for unacceptable behaviour, and a world-first gender diversity policy for a contact sport. In 2020, she drove a hugely successful social media campaign aimed at informing and protecting Indigenous communities from COVID-19.

 

 

 

    

 

SA AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR NOMINEE

Jennifer Howard

CEO and founder of Safe Pets Safe Families

When Jennifer Howard escaped a violent relationship in her 20s, she was forced to leave her pets behind. Tragically, she never saw them again.

A single mum-of-three, Jennifer has dedicated seven years of her life to creating the registered charity Safe Pets Safe Families. The organisation provides emergency services for people and their pets in times of crisis, such as domestic violence, homelessness, mental illness and medical emergencies.

Jennifer’s passion, dedication and work ethic has seen Safe Pets Safe Families grow from an idea to an organisation of 450 volunteers. Since its founding, it has helped more than 800 clients and 1,000 animals.

Jennifer is now working to make every domestic violence shelter pet friendly – and to raise awareness about the link between animal abuse and family violence. Research shows many women delay leaving a violent relationship if they have nowhere to take their pets. Jennifer’s work has enabled many to leave and seek safety, knowing their animals will be cared for.

    

 

SA AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR NOMINEE

Dr Joy O'Hazy Doctor and initiator of Birthing Kits

Every year, 295,000 women around the world die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. And almost 2.5 million newborns die within a month. After discovering that many could survive with access to a few basic and clean items, Adelaide doctor Joy O’Hazy decided to act.

After four years of research, she created the Birthing Kit – a zip-lock bag containing gloves, string, gauze, soap, a sterile razor blade and a plastic sheet.In 1999, Joy’s Adelaide Hills Zonta Club, a women’s service organisation, assembled the first birthing kits, which were distributed in Papua New Guinea.

This launched the Zonta Birthing Kit project which evolved into the Birthing Kit Foundation (now KIT International), which has distributed more than 2 million birthing kits and trained more than 10,000 traditional birth attendants.

Joy has dedicated her life professionally and as a volunteer to helping women and refugees in Australia and overseas. She currently mentors young members of the South Sudanese community through the Gloria Health Association.

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Nicola Spurrier

Chief Public Health Officer, paediatrician and physician

During COVID-19, South Australia has been one of the safest places in the world. The Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, has been instrumental in the state’s effective virus response.

Nicola led the SA Health, Health Regulation and Protection Division in its highly successful public health strategy. She co-ordinates with government and non-government agencies and has been the South Australian lead on the national pandemic response.

In daily press conferences, Nicola has kept the public informed about the pandemic response. Her calm, honest and direct approach and sound public health advice have gained the trust of South Australians.

Nicola has also educated community groups, councils, professionals and clinicians in countless forums and sessions to ensure they are informed and up-to-date.

Throughout COVID-19’s monumental challenges, Nicola has acted professionally, strategically and compassionately. Nicola has 29 years’ experience in SA Health, developing and implementing policies and programs across child health, obesity prevention and Aboriginal health.

 

 

 

SA YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 2020 

Isobel Marshall

Social entrepreneur

In 2017, at just 18 years of age, Isobel Marshall launched a social enterprise business to help women around the world by breaking down stigma around menstruation and providing greater access to hygiene products.
With business partner Eloise Hall, she co-founded TABOO after crowdfunding $56,000 to launch their range of products in August 2019.
TABOO sells high quality, ethically sourced, organic cotton pads and tampons to an Australian market, with 100 per cent of net profits going to One Girls – a charity providing education programs for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Locally, Isobel and TABOO have partnered with Vinnies Women’s Crisis centre, providing free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia.
Recognising period poverty is not just a big city issue, they also support the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council.
Isobel is also a full-time student at the University of Adelaide, where she is studying a Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS) and a Bachelor of Surgery.
  
 

 

 

 

Alicia Beik

Businesswoman and migrant activist

Businesswoman and community activist Alicia Beik is passionate about migrant communities and affordable housing.

Alicia arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker and like most of the teenage migrants, she was overwhelmed by challenges and barriers.

After working in various occupations, she found her passion for social and affordable housing. Therefore, she joined the Anglicare South Australia in Humanitarian Settlement Program to assist new arrivals with social housing inquiries. She witnessed the need for affordable accommodation and that motivated her to launch the Affordable Sustainable Housing Program (ASHP).Alicia worked with academics, government, builders, and communities to find sustainable and affordable solutions for building new homes.

Today, ASHP provides more than 200 affordable homes to vulnerable and low-income families in the city of Playford Council, for as little as a $3,000 deposit, giving these new Australians a place to call home.

  


 

 

 

SA NOMINEE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

Peter Mungkuri OAM Artist and cultural leader

Peter Mungkuri OAM is a celebrated South Australian artist who uses his art to share his lived experience as an Anangu man.
Born in 1946, Peter lived a traditional lifestyle before working on nearby cattle stations as a highly regarded stockman.
He is now a dedicated artist, working daily at the Iwantja Arts Centre in Indulkana Community. Peter’s work displays his knowledge of country and Anangu culture and his experiences working the land.
His art has been acquired and exhibited by domestic and international institutions and collections including Art bank, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Foundation Opale, and the Art Gallery of NSW.
In 2017, Peter was the inaugural winner of the Hadley Landscape Art Prize. In 2018, he won the General Painting Award at the 35th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, and he was a finalist in the 41st Alice Prize: National Contemporary Art Awards in 2020.
Through his art and local engagement with younger generations, Peter helps ensure connection to country and cultural practice is preserved.

 

 

 

SA NOMINEE SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

Dr David Squirrell

Advocate for the vision impaired 

Dr David Squirrell is a tireless volunteer supporting South Australia’s blind and blind-deaf community.
Since retiring as a medical consultant due to his own loss of sight and hearing, he has represented and lobbied for the vision impaired community at every level of government, with humour, empathy and understanding.
As President of the Adelaide branch of Blind Citizens Australia, he has successfully lobbied for changes that help empower the vision impaired, the blind deaf community, and people with other disabilities.
These have included ensuring appropriate signage in public places, guide and service dog toilet facilities at Adelaide Airport, tactile markers on city and suburban streets, and advocacy for the blind in hospitals and medical facilities.
David is actively involved in multiple committees and boards to ensure a voice for the vision impaired, many of whom also have other complex disabilities. His advocacy helps provide greater independence for the vision impaired, enabling greater equality and inclusion in society.

  

 

 

 

 

 

SA STATE RECIPIENT LOCAL HERO

Russell Ebert OAM

Respectful relationships advocate 

Former footballer Russell Ebert OAM is a legendary figure with the Port Adelaide Football Club. A four-time winner of the Magarey Medal, awarded to the best and fairest player in the South Australian National Football League, he’s considered one of the club’s greatest players of all time.

Today, Russell continues to give back to the club and the South Australian community through his leadership of the club’s Power Community Ltd (PCL) youth programs.He is particularly passionate about PCL’s Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program, which he delivers to Year 10 students around the state. 

Developed with Centacare Catholic Family Services and the South Australian Department for Education, PTEVAW challenges gender-based attitudes and promotes respectful relationships and an end to domestic violence.

The program has reached more than 5,000 students since starting in 2016.Russell is also a passionate supporter of children living with disabilities and is a fundraising ambassador for disability services organisation, Novita.

  

 

 

 

SA STATE NOMINEE LOCAL HERO

Craig Scott

President of Goodwood Saints Football Club SA

 President of Goodwood Saints Football Club (Goody Saints), Craig Scott has been a driving force in the club for more than 43 years. Thanks to Craig’s vision and guidance, everyone is welcome and valued at Goody Saints.

Craig has championed the SANFL Inclusive League, ensuring players with integration difficulties including mental and physical disabilities are wholly integrated into the club. Junior players are also developed at Goody Saints – with no tryouts or cuts.

Craig has steered the club to actively support social justice issues. These include opportunities for the homeless from the Hutt Street Centre and supporting causes like the Red Shield appeal, breast cancer and mental health awareness, and White Ribbon Day. The team also acknowledges and supports Indigenous causes.

A police officer outside the club, since 1994 Craig has been involved in Operation Flinders, a new direction for at-risk youth. His encouraging communication style and strong leadership have helped create a stronger, healthier and more resilient community.
 

 

 

SA STATE NOMINEE LOCAL HERO

Melanie Tate

CEO and founder Puddle Jumpers Inc.


Melanie Tate is the CEO and founder of Puddle Jumpers Inc, which provides food and welfare services to some of South Australia’s most at-risk children.
Founded in 2012, Puddle Jumpers helps children living away from their birth parents form positive childhood memories through experiences like camps, activity days and mentoring programs.
The charity also offers practical support to vulnerable families who might otherwise fall through the cracks – with access to free food, clothing and essential household items at their weekly Community Food Nights.
At the start of the pandemic, Puddle Jumpers adapted and expanded its services to meet unprecedented calls for help from families in need. Since then, they’ve provided drive-by food collections in nine locations throughout South Australia, handing out thousands of hampers to families and individuals doing it tough.
Melanie volunteers countless hours to the organisation, inspiring hundreds of others to do the same. Through her dedication, she makes an enormous difference to the lives of thousands of South Australian children and families.

 

 

 

 

SA NOMINEE LOCAL HERO

Rodney O'Brien

Kaurna Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide

A proud member of the Kaurna and Adelaide Aboriginal community, Rodney O’Brien is passionate about sharing his knowledge, experiences and language with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike.

As Kaurna Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide, Rod provides cultural support to young Aboriginal people, drawing on his firsthand experience of the difficulties Indigenous students can face in a predominantly Western society.

He also provides cultural awareness for non-Indigenous students and staff to enable them to contribute more meaningfully towards reconciliation.

Rod creates a welcoming and non-judgemental space that nurtures engagement with Aboriginal history, language and culture. He has played a vital role in the development of the university’s recently launched Kaurna Learning Circle.

Rod has also advocated for the uptake of Kaurna language and Welcome to or Acknowledgement of Country as standard university practice.

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