Alumni News

Our team in South Australia (SA) are excited to present their annual Australian of the Year Luncheon, featuring their very own Taryn Brumfitt!

The 2023 Australian of the Year will be accompanied by Amar Singh, founder of Turbans 4 Australia and Australia's Local Hero for 2023, followed by a panel discussion with:

A powerful and inspiring Australian of the Year Luncheon that will remind us of how extraordinary Australians can be when we’re at our best.

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In the first authorised biopic of this Australian music icon, a new doco tells John Farnham AO's untold story from the quiet suburbs of Melbourne to ‘60s pop fame, through incredible highs and lows. 

Farnham was named 1987's Australian of the Year for his outstanding contribution to the Australian music industry over twenty years.

National Palliative Care Week: 21-27 May

They're two palliative care powerhouses. And they've been involved in many conversations focused on matters of life and death this month. This includes the premiere in Canberra of Live The Life You Please, held by Palliative Care Australia. This powerful documentary delves into the stories of real people from across the country, sharing their personal experiences of palliative care. Samar also wrote a piece for The West Australian: "It won’t kill us to speak openly about death and dying."

Read this opinion piece by Professor Samar Aoun


Blue Tree Project's mission is to help spark difficult conversations and encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns. Led by its founder, 2022 WA Young Australian of the Year Kendall Whyte, Blue Tree partnered with the ACT Government to give this large tree 'the blue treatment'. ACT Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson joined in the painting efforts.



To recognise the impact of volunteering, Auspire – Australia Day Council WA hosted an online Lunch with Leaders with two inspiring individuals who were  recognised in the Australian of the Year Awards for being change makers and creating volunteer-based organisations that are making a difference.

Forbes 30 Under 30

2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year Lottie Dalziel has been named as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 - and she's rightfully chuffed: "Growing up I never knew exactly what I wanted to do, all I knew is that I wanted to help people. Banish has grown so much over the last five years and I genuinely get to spend every day doing something that I love."

Learn more

Sam Kerr named FWA Women's Footballer of the Year

2018 Young Australian of the Year Samantha Kerr OAM has been named the Football Writers’ Association Women's Footballer of the Year for the second year in a row, becoming the first back-to-back winner of the award.

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On Friday 12 May 2023, our 2019 Australia's Local Heroes Kate and Tick Everett are calling on you to help make Dolly’s own dream of a kinder and safer world for Australia’s kids and communities a reality.

They've released this new video to help raise awareness and break the silence around bullying.

Supporting migrant and refugee communities

2023 Tasmania Australian of the Year John Kamara delivered a stirring address to members of the Tasmanian parliament in his efforts to pave a better road forward for building the state's cultural diversity.

Read the full address

Awer Mabil named in stellar line up

The Legacy ’23 Ambassador Program has been announced in the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. And it includes our 2023 Young Australian of the Year, Socceroo Awer Mabil!

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Running for a reason

2022 WA Local Hero Craig Hollywood says he's no Nedd Brockman but he's committed to completing a half-marathon to raise funds for Short Back & Sidewalks. Every $25 donated gives a free haircut to a person experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

Support Craig now

The importance of peer support

Founder of Hand-n-Hand Peer Support and 2022 QLD Australian of the Year Dr Tahnee Bridson was a guest on Humans of Purpose podcast recently. She shares her journey and highlights the barriers she has faced while emphasising the importance of resilience and grit in achieving success.

Listen now


For those who don’t know much about Australia’s Local Hero from 2020, Bernie Shakeshaft founded BackTrack, a residential education and training program for youth in Armidale and he’s well-loved for his warm, no-nonsense style.

Learn more about BackTrack


Last year, a donor gave BackTrack half of a 230-hectare farm outside Armidale and the cattle along with it. With help from another donor, Shakeshaft bought out the remainder. 

The crew and kids are busy making additional accommodation and renovations to the on-site homestead. Tree removal, earthmoving and fencing has been done around the farmhouse and 80 head of cattle are already making the farm home. 

BackTrack’s schools outreach program will start again in late May and young people have been busy travelling to present the dogs and attend dog jumping comps across NSW - including this one pictured above at the Adelong Show. 

Beyond flexing their impressive dog training skills, this allows young people to learn how to work as a team, interact with community members from all walks of life and develop a great sense of confidence.

Young Australian of the Year alumni attend King's Coronation

Young Australian of the Year alumni Dr Daniel Nour (awarded in 2022 as founder of charity Street Side Medics) and Sam Kerr (2018) were two of the 14 outstanding Australians invited to join Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Governor General David Hurley and State Governors at the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6. Sam, Australia’s women’s football captain and striker for Chelsea, carried the Australian flag at the Ceremony. "It's always an honour to represent Australia on the world stage. I’m incredibly proud and humbled to have been chosen as flag bearer on this historic occasion." Daniel met a few famous faces there, too!

Watch Daniel on Sunrise from London
Archibald Prize portrait finalists

Portraits of 2018 Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons AO and 2010 Australia's Local Hero Ronni Kahn AO are amongst the finalists shortlisted for the Archibald Prize for 2023. The exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW runs from 6 May – 3 September 2023.

Archibald Prize 2023 finalist, Charles Mouyat 'As below, so above (ut infra, sic supra)', oil on linen, 150 x 150.3 cm © the artist,
image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

Sitter: Michelle Simmons

Archibald Prize 2023 finalist, Marie Mansfield 'Ronni Kahn AO (founder of OZHarvest)', oil on linen, 122.5 x 91.7 cm © the artist,
image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

Sitter: Ronni Kahn

Photo of Dr Angraj Khillon
2023 VIC Australian of the Year Dr Angraj Khillon

What has Dr Raj been up to?

VIC's 2023 Australian of the Year Dr Angraj Khillan was busy with TV, radio and in-person appearances throughout April's Autism Awareness Month.

The paediatrician and co-founder of the Health Awareness Society of Australia also gave his thoughts on the closure of GP practices and impact on multicultural communities.

  • It's estimated that 1 in 100 people in Australia have autism and males are 3.5% more likely to have autism than women

    Dr Raj was busy myth busting and creating awareness in April, including an interview with SBS Punjabi. He says to "let go of the guilt, autism is not due to bad parenting." 

    On Chai, Chat & Community, Dr Raj discussed the hesitancy among us in talking about autism in our children, what autism means in simple language, the right time for diagnosis and what to do when diagnosed.
  • GP practices are closing around Australia
    Increased cost of managing a practice has made things difficult for bulk billing only practices, the Medicare Rebate ceiling and a shortage of GPs and other medical practitioners who are already overwhelmed, overworked and under-resourced.

    Dr Raj says we need urgent attention to solve these issues. Listen to this eye-opening podcast with Dr Raj on SBS.

Living with purpose

NT 2023 Young Australian of the Year Jahdai Vigona continues his involvement in numerous youth initiatives in the Northern Territory. Jahdai was a keynote speaker at the NT Youth Conference in Darwin and Alice Springs in April, with 1500 young people participating. Additionally, Jahdai was part of a youth voice film initiative that highlighted issues for young people in Alice Springs at a time when there is a negative national spotlight on the region. Jahdai's also travelled to the remote Aboriginal community of Santa Teresa, where he played ukuleles with kids and shared an important message about purpose. Jahdai continues to make a positive difference in his community, advocating for the voices of young people to be heard.

Learn more about Jahdai


2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year Sue Salthouse tragically died in the months following her award after a driver collided with her wheelchair-accessible motorbike.

Her daughter Luisa Fernside was at the opening of the Salthouse Community Centre in Haig Park, Braddon, named in her mum’s honour. 

William to be Sydney Symphony Orchestra's first Indigenous Board director

Big news... 2023 QLD Australian of the Year William Barton has been appointed as the first Indigneous director on the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Board. He's played with them for two decades and would like to see the orchestra hire its first Indigenous musician. He will also encourage the training of more First Nations composers and commissioning them to write for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. "I'm at the point in my career where I want to be inside the engine room," he says.

Learn more about William

Passing of G. Yunupingu AM

In 1978, G. Yunupingu AM became the third Aboriginal person to win Australian of the Year and the first to do so for achievements outside of the sporting arena. When his brother, leader of the world-famous band, Yothu Yindi, was awarded the same honour in 1992, they became the only brothers to win Australia’s highest award. 

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A member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation from 1991 until 1996, G. Yunupingu was a truly monumental leader of his Yolŋu people and a tireless advocate for reconciliation and mutual respect.  

His enormous contribution to Australian public life was strengthened by his ability to operate with great skill and confidence in both the Yolŋu and Australian legal, cultural and political systems. 

News of his passing has left the reconciliation movement grieving.

Read the full statement on Reconciliation Australia's website.

The year that made our alumni

ABC Radio National's The Year That Made Me features inspiring individuals talking about a pivotal moment in their personal histories.

Listen now

Local connections, lasting impact

Award alumni and nominees addressed 250 high school students at Perth's Murdoch University, the first of Auspire’s 2023 series of student forums.

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PM visits Street Side Medics

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited Street Side Medics in Parramatta, NSW to thank them for their hard work and contributions to the community. 2022 Young Australian of the Year Daniel Nour and his team of volunteer doctors and nurses are making a real difference to those in need by providing a mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness around Sydney. Right now they have two vans with a third being fitted out.

Learn more

Back Roads host

2019 NSW Australian of the Year Kurt Fearnley AO has hosted a guest episode of bush culture series Back Roads on ABC. It’s not his first visit to the largely Indigenous community, about 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs. “You can truly tell the connection the show has with the community. It’s a show that takes the time to turn off the highway, and lands in a part of the world that has beautiful stories that often don’t get the chance to be told.”

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Local Hero alumni with Secretary Michael Pezzullo AO in Canberra, 2023
Local Hero alumni with Secretary Michael Pezzullo AO in Canberra, 2023

20 years of Australia's Local Heroes

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Australia’s Local Hero Award.

This Award has been proudly sponsored by the Department of Home Affairs since its inception as part of their mission to promote active citizenship – which all Local Heroes embody.

Visit the last 20 years


It's a special category that recognises everyday people thinking outside the box to find solutions to a wide range of issues in their own community.

From empowering our most vulnerable, to raising awareness and advocating for change across human rights, the environment and more, the causes supported by Local Heroes represent our shared Australian values in action.

To celebrate the 20-year milestone along with the 2023 State and Territory Local Heroes, 14 national Local Hero alumni gathered to reflect on how the Award has helped amplify their voices and causes.

Hosted by Michael Pezzullo AO, Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, the event included a special 20th anniversary cake and a discussion panel featuring alumni Shanna Whan (2022), Rosemary Kariuki OAM (2021) and Jonathon Welch AM (2008).

We loved this write up in The Canberra Times about the award's anniversary featuring Local Hero alumni Eddie Woo (2018) and Ben Kearney (2005).