2020 Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 1 November 2019 9:00am

The 2020 Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced this evening during a ceremony at the Alice Springs Convention Centre.

The four Northern Territory award 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 Northern Territory Australian of the Year is 74-year-old sports physician and ex-RAAF flying doctor Dr Geoffrey Thompson of Darwin. Dr Geoffrey Thompson is one of the Northern Territory's quiet achievers, with a distinguished career as a flying doctor and history of service to sports medicine and the community. Born in rural South Australia in 1945, Geoffrey graduated in medicine before joining the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a flight surgeon and medical officer. In 1974, when Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin, he was responsible for overseeing the RAAF effort to evacuate the city. During the days that followed, and with many sleepless nights, he helped assess, treat and evacuate severely injured citizens of Darwin – despite having lost his own home and possessions. After leaving the RAAF, he dedicated considerable time to performing general medical clinics in remote Indigenous communities, often using his own plane for transport. As a sports medicine specialist, he was the first president and founding member of Sports Medicine Australia (Northern Territory) and has been the chief medical officer for the Australian Paralympic Committee since 2008.

Artist, cultural activist and environmental adviser Banduk Marika AO is the 2020 Northern Territory Senior Australian of the Year. Banduk Marika AO is known for her exquisite prints of ancestral creation stories on lino, her original media of choice. Born in Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, Marika and her sisters are among the first Yolngu women whose male relatives have encouraged them to paint ancestral creation stories. As well as an artist, 65-year-old Marika is also a passionate cultural activist and environmental adviser, who has appeared as a speaker at national and international conferences. In 1994, she and seven other artists won a court case against a company that illegally reproduced their work in Vietnam. Her story featured in the 1997 documentary Copyrights, which explored Aboriginal concept of ownership as it relates to art. Marika has been the artist-in-residence at both the Canberra School of Art and Flinders University in South Australia. She is a traditional landowner in charge of looking after country at Yirrkala.

The 2020 Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year is 19-year-old mental health ambassador Mitchell Ford. Katherine's Mitchell Ford is the founder of PRVT Apparel, a clothing brand which aims to spread awareness and provide support for youth with mental health issues. With suicide the leading
cause of death for youth in the NT and Australia, Mitchell is committed to tackling the stigma attached to talking about mental health. After losing his best friend to suicide at a young age, he decided to create a community and platform that lets young people know they don't need to suffer alone. PRVT is an acronym for 'prevention', a name which is designed to start a conversation around suicide prevention. Additionally, for each T-shirt sold, 20 per cent of the profits are donated to headspace, the national youth mental health foundation. Mitchell also dedicates his free time volunteering with disadvantaged youth. In 2019, he was named Young Citizen of the Year and is very active as a social media influencer around kindness, mental health and self-love.

Family and domestic violence activist Shirleen Campbell of Alice Springs is the 2020 Northern Territory Local Hero. Proud Warlpiri and Arrernte woman Shirleen Campbell is a third-generation resident of Alice Springs Town Camp, Lhenpe Artnwe – or Hoppy's Camp. The 38-year-old is also the co-ordinator of The Tangentyere Women's Family Safety Group (TWFSG), which gives women in the camp a voice and action against family and domestic violence. TWFSG takes a strengths-based approach to addressing domestic violence, training women to recognise its early signs and support each other. Together they acknowledge and celebrate the women residents' skills, knowledge, history, assets, connections and relationships. After a violent attack on an Aboriginal woman at the Todd River was ignored by local press, Shirleen and TWFSG led a 300-strong, anti-violence march through the streets of Alice Springs. Shirleen and other members of TWFSG were then invited to Canberra. With care and humility, Shirleen drew attention to the women her community loved and mourned who'd been impacted by violence – and showed that women are a large part of the solution.

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

"The 2020 Northern Territory Australians of the Year are outstanding examples of the spirit of the Territory, taking action to protect people and culture, stepping up to help those in need and making an impact on national and international stages," said Ms Brand.


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