2020 Tasmania Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 18 October 2019 9:00am

The 2020 Tasmania Australian of the Year Awards have been presented to a marine research scientist, a Landcare activist, a social justice activist and a men’s health advocate.

Announced this afternoon during a ceremony at Government House in Hobart, the recipients were presented with their awards by the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC.

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

The 2020 Tasmania Australian of the Year is marine research scientist Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas of Hobart. Rhodes Scholar, international research scientist and mother, 38-year-old Jess grew up exploring Tasmania’s spectacular coastline and wilderness. Her love of the environment led her to pursue a career as a research scientist, first with the Australian Antarctic Division, and now with CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere.

Jess uses interdisciplinary research approaches to understand how marine socioecological systems respond to climate change and other human activities, and to inform decision-making for sustainable development.

A passionate advocate for female leadership in science, Jess co-founded the Homeward Bound project, which took 78 women working in science on a leadership journey to Antarctica in 2016. Jess also co-founded the Women in Polar Science network, which has more than 4,000 members worldwide. Named Tasmania’s Young Tall Poppy of the Year in 2015 for her excellence in research, science communications and policy engagement, Jess also co-presents the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine and Antarctic Science that’s reached over 17,000 students.

Landcare activist Dr Graeme Stevenson of Somerset is the 2020 Tasmania Senior Australian of the Year. Dr Graeme Stevenson, 74, has been promoting healthy soils in Tasmania for over 30 years, in particular the role of dung beetles and earthworms in soil management. Since 1993, he has been a passionate advocate and volunteer for Landcare Tasmania, a movement that brings individuals and groups together to improve the health of natural and working landscapes. Using his knowledge about conservation, Graeme has initiated and managed 27 projects along the coastline, including willow removal, riverside fencing, and managing soil slippage. He also helps write funding applications for new projects, and has attracted almost $1.5 million in grants, predominantly for on-ground works. With 20 years of appliedresearch into organic agriculture and sustainable farming, Graeme works with farmers as a soil assessor and agronomy consultant, and has written a number of books showcasing his expertise. As well as his volunteer work, he presents his soil knowledge to school children as alter ego Dr Spluttergrunt.

The 2020 Tasmania Young Australian of the Year is 26-year-old social justice activist Will Smith of Launceston. Police officer Will Smith’s desire to help disadvantaged young people has taken him from local football clubs in Launceston to the Lebanese and Syrian border. From age 15, Will has been involved with the Edmund Rice camps, which provide holiday camps and other activities for disadvantaged students.

As a police officer in training, he organised the now ongoing partnership between the Police Academy and the Eddy Rice program, where cadets and disadvantaged young people share camps, breaking down barriers on both sides. Joining Deloraine Football Club, Will organised a successful camping experience with the club and young refugees, to help create mutual understanding. He then set up the JCP Empowering Youth program, enabling successful leaders to help improve the lives of young people, through school, leadership and community programs. An extraordinary man with a burning passion for social justice and empowering young people, Will also travelled to Lebanon to help isolated young Syrian refugees by setting up soccer competitions.

Thomas Windsor, an advocate for men’s health, is the 2020 Tasmania Local Hero. Thomas is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for major health issues affecting men, including depression and prostate cancer. The 38-year-old Hobart resident has spent over a decade fundraising for men’s health organisations, by getting his friends together to compete in running events, including a gruelling half- marathon 1,300 metres up Mt Wellington.

After losing his father to suicide when he was 23, Tom turned a family tragedy into a commitment to help other men. He founded Mobart Mo Bros, which has grown every year to become Australia’s top Movember fundraising team for the past four years. Started as a way for his friends to show support after the loss of his father, the team of men and women are on a mission to stop so many men from dying too young. The Mobart Mo Bros hold a range of events to engage the community – successfully attracting more than 600 registered participants and raising over $750,000 for Movember in the past 13 years.

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

“Through their work and voluntary activities, the 2020 Tasmania Australians of the Year are all contributing in ways which help improve our society – protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, encouraging inclusion and mutual understanding and supporting research to save lives,” said Ms Brand.

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