Local Hero alumni with Secretary Michael Pezzullo AO and Chair of the NADC, Danielle Roche OAM
Local Hero alumni with Secretary Michael Pezzullo AO and Chair of the NADC, Danielle Roche OAM

When the 2023 Australian of the Year Award recipients are announced on 25 January, a new Australia’s Local Hero will be named, marking 20 years of the Local Hero award category.

The Local Hero award was introduced to the Australian of the Year Awards program in 2003 to recognise those who are outstanding in their communities; everyday people who are agents of positive change at a grassroots level; and those who foster a more diverse and inclusive Australia.

Fourteen former Local Hero award recipients are in Canberra for the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards events, which included a luncheon hosted by Secretary Michael Pezzullo from the Department of Home Affairs, sponsor of the Australia's Local Hero award.

Past recipients and finalists for this year’s award cut a giant, celebratory cake and took part in a panel discussion about the award’s impact.

National Australia Day Council CEO Ms Karlie Brand said the Australia’s Local Hero award category has recognised a wide range of people over 20 years, some of whom have gone on to become household names.

“From delivering food to charities to making maths fun to advocating for victims of domestic violence, Australia’s Local Heroes represent the values of mateship, generosity of spirit and a fair go for all,” said Ms Brand.

“OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn, Choir of Hard Knocks founder and conductor Jonathon Welch and mathematics teacher Eddie Woo are just some of the names on the Local Hero honour roll.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon Andrew Giles MP, said the Local Heroes are role models for all Australians, including those who are about to become citizens.

"We should all look up to this group of exceptional Australians. This week, as we invite over 19,600 people to become new citizens at ceremonies across Australia, we hope that our 21 Local Heroes will serve as inspiration to all of us, to be active citizens, making a positive contribution within our local communities."

Recipients of Australia’s Local Hero award since 2003:

2003 Brian Parry AFSM (NSW) – Bushfire fighter                  
2004 Donna Carson (NSW) – Survivor of domestic violence    
2005 Ben Kearney (TAS) – Environmental campaigner           
2006 Toni Hoffman AM (QLD) – Patient advocate       
2007 Shanaka Fernando (VIC) – Social challenger
2008 Jonathon Welch AM (VIC) – Choral conductor
2009 Graeme Drew (WA) – Sea rescuer and educator
2010 Ronni Kahn AO (NSW) – Food rescuer
2011 Donald Ritchie OAM (NSW) (d: 2012) – Suicide prevention advocate
2012 Lynne Sawyers (NSW) – Foster mother 
2013 Shane Phillips (NSW) – Indigenous leader         
2014 Tim Conolan AM (VIC) – Children’s charity founder
2015 Juliette Wright OAM (QLD) – Social entrepreneur
2016 Catherine Keenan (NSW) – Youth educator
2017 Vicki Jellie AM (VIC) – Community fundraising champion
2018 Eddie Woo (NSW) – Mathematics teacher
2019 Kate & Tick Everett (NT) – Advocates against bullying
2020 Bernie Shakeshaft (NSW) – Founder of BackTrack Youth Works Program     
2021 Rosemary Kariuki (NSW) – Advocate for migrant and refugee women
2022 Shanna Whan (NSW) – Founder and CEO of Sober In The Country       

The finalists for this year’s Local Hero award include a volunteer ambulance officer, an advocate for responsible pet ownership, a medical scientist helping women from culturally and linguistically diverse groups and a social entrepreneur bringing people together to regenerate their own communities.

One of these inspiring Australians will be named 2023 Australia’s Local Hero at the Australian of the Year Awards ceremony on the evening of 25 January 2023 at the National Arboretum in Canberra:

  • 2023 ACT Local Hero - Dr Shamaruh Mirza (Waramanga)
  • 2023 NSW Local Hero - Amar Singh (Prestons)
  • 2023 NT Local Hero - Sacha King (Darwin)        
  • 2023 QLD Local Hero - Melissa Redsell (Warner)
  • 2023 SA Local Hero - Christine Robertson (Ridleyton)
  • 2023 Tasmania Local Hero - Keith Parker (Sheffield)      
  • 2023 Victoria Local Hero - Belinda Young (Sassafras)
  • 2023 WA Local Hero - James (Jimmy) Murphy (Leederville)        

Visit 20 Years of Australia's Local Hero Award | Australian of the Year.



MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Browne on 0414 673 762 / nicole@mediaopps.com.au