2020 ACT Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 29 October 2019 9:00am

The 2020 ACT Australian of the Year Awards have been presented to four outstanding women - a pioneer in women's rugby league, a disability rights leader, a sustainability advocate and a foster carer.

Announced this evening during a ceremony at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the recipients were presented with their awards by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA.

The four ACT recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on 25 January 2020 – the 60th anniversary of the awards.

The 2020 ACT Australian of the Year is women's rugby league pioneer Katrina Fanning. For more than 25 years, Wiradjuri woman Katrina Fanning has lived and breathed rugby league. Following a successful career as a player, she was appointed manager of the Indigenous Women's All Stars team, Chairperson of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, and President of the Canberra and Australian Women's Rugby League Associations.

In 2014, she was named Canberra Woman of the Year, and ACT NAIDOC Person of the Year. Then, in 2019, Katrina was the third woman to be appointed to the Canberra Raiders Board of Directors. Katrina brings enormous management capability to the appointment, having worked in senior roles with Centrelink, Aboriginal Hostels, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, as well as holding positions on various committees and boards.

Katrina is also Director of Coolamon Advisors, an Indigenous majority-owned and managed consultancy. The 46-year-old firmly believes the ACT can lead the way nationally for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people outcomes, in creating and leading their own solutions.

Disability advocate Sue Salthouse is the 2020 ACT Senior Australian of the Year. A horse-riding accident at age 45 led Sue Salthouse into a new life in a wheelchair – where she experienced first-hand the systemic inequality facing people with disabilities. Having been committed to social justice all her life, Sue was determined to bring about positive change. First invited to work for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), she began advocating for the right of people with disabilities to accessible housing, economic security and the chance to contribute to society. In 2015, Sue was Canberra Citizen of the Year, recognising her outstanding commitment and contribution as a disability advocate. Now aged 70, Sue runs a consultancy company specialising in disability rights advocacy and works in the disability sector. She hasalso worked extensively with a number of organisations to develop leadership training projects for women, and actions to combat domestic violence. Sue holds positions on a number of boards including the Independent Advisory Council of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Expert Panel in the ACT.

The 2020 ACT Young Australian of the Year is 22-year-old sustainability advocate Madeline Diamond. Madeline Diamond is the founder of Trash Mob, a youth-led community group that meets every month to pick up rubbish in public areas in Canberra – as well as advocating for waste-free solutions. Under Madeline’s leadership, young people are working together to take control of the future they would like to see. A 100 per cent volunteer-powered organisation, Trash Mob has established sister groups in Yass and Canberra, and is working to establish groups in other towns and cities.

Madeline is also the executive officer of SEE-Change, a community organisation encouraging Canberrans to live more sustainably, and supporting grassroots environmental action around the ACT. Her role is to engage young people and provide greater opportunities for them in the sustainability space. Her achievements include initiating the Young Changemakers Workshop and overseeing the annual Parliament of Youth on Sustainability event. She also recently received an ACT Government Community Zero Emissions Grant to host a film festival and competition on the theme of sustainability.

Foster carer Julia Rollings is the 2020 ACT Local Hero. Julia Rollings has been a foster carer for over two decades – supporting 50 babies, children and young people through difficult periods of their lives. As a volunteer crisis carer, she often looks after infants who are medically fragile, withdrawing from drugs, or who have experienced significant trauma. Julia’s dedication and relentless passion for Canberra’s most vulnerable children sees her spend up to months in hospital – caring for babies who may transition home to their birth families or to long-term care. In 2009, she was awarded Barnardos ACT Mother of the Year Award for her work as a champion for children’s rights.

Drawing on past experience in the out-of-home care sector, Julia supports other carers through her role on the Carer Wellbeing Sub-Committee. She has also held various volunteer positions within adoption support groups, including president of the Adoptive Families Association (ACT). An adoptive mother to seven children, Julia recorded her story in her book Love Our Way.

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the award recipients from the ACT, noting their amazing contributions to our country.

“The 2020 ACT Australians of the Year are extraordinary women in leadership roles who are making a real difference for others,” said Ms Brand.



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