2021 ACT Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 3 November 2020 10:48am

 2021 ACT Australian of the Year – Professor Brendan Murphy (Kingston) 

2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year – Patricia Anderson AO (Hackett) 

2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year – Tara McClelland (Dickson) 

2021 ACT Local Hero – Timothy Miller (Belconnen) 


Monday 2 November 2020, 7:30pm AEDT: The 2021 ACT Australian of the Year Awards have been announced this evening at The National Gallery, Canberra, in the presence of ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA. 

The four ACT recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2021. 

The 2021 ACT Australian of the Year is former Chief Medical Officer to the Federal Government, Professor Brendan Murphy. Brendan is the former Government Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and current Secretary of the Department of Health. Brendan provided expert advice to the Federal Government to close the international borders before the spread of COVID-19 – a decision which saved tens of thousands of Australian lives. Thanks to his calm leadership, Australia was able to prevent the COVID-19 virus taking hold in the community during the first wave of the global pandemic. In his role as CMO, Brendan, as Chair of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) provided clear consensus guidance to all Australian Governments around shutting down Australian business and community activities. AHPPC, under his leadership, was responsible for introducing physical distancing measures – and overseeing their implementation in Australia before WHO advice and in advance of other developed countries. A respected medical expert, 65 year old Brendan chairs many national committees, and represents Australia at the World Health Assembly. 

Writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples Patricia Anderson AO is the 2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year. Patricia is an Alyawarre woman who has built a national and international reputation as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. With an extensive career spanning community development, policy formation, and research ethics, Pat has dedicated her life to creating and nurturing understanding and compassion between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. A widely-published writer, 76 year old Pat has served as Chair on multiple organisations, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, and the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council. She is the inaugural patron of the Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia and has presented to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous People. Pat’s achievements have been recognised with numerous honours, including the HRC’s Human Rights Medal, a Westpac 100 Women of Influence Award, and a NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award. She has received an honorary doctorate and an Order of Australia for her leadership in promoting improved health and educational outcomes. 

The 2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year is advocate for the rights of young people, Tara McClelland. Tara works tirelessly to support and advocate for the rights and wellbeing of ACT’s young people. In her professional role as Youth Worker with the Salvation Army, Tara works with 16-25 year olds experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness, helping to expand their skills while in crisis accommodation. She is particularly passionate about advocating for young people’s mental health issues, which is the focus of her strength-based empowerment practice. Tara also dedicates her free time to volunteer work with the Youth Reference Group at Headspace Canberra, where she helps apply for funding, organises events to support mental wellbeing, and holds school information sessions. Tara, aged 24, is on the Canberra Youth Theatre’s Youth Artists Advisory Panel, and has assisted the Children and Young People Commissioner’s Office with their work on family violence. Her significant contributions have been recognised with a commendation for a 2019 YOGIE Award and a nomination for 2020 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year. 

Founder of Lids4Kids, Timothy Miller, is the 2021 ACT Local Hero. Timothy runs Lids4Kids, a national organisation which encourages households, schools, businesses, and organisations to collect plastic lids to be recycled into sustainable products for children. Previously, Tim spent much of his career working in road safety and environmentalism, leading the development of a 5-star environmental rating for vehicles as well as an important online resource for consumers on the efficiency and environmental impact of their cars. The 44 year old has also used his passion for cars to take part in outback rallies to fundraise for various charities that help sick, disadvantaged, or disabled children. Lids4Kids now has over 25,000 participants across Australia. Tim coordinates leaders from all states to spread the message about Lids4Kids in their communities and collect, clean and sort lids from drop off points around towns and cities. His efforts have saved millions of lids from landfill, while educating children about the issue of plastic waste and empowering them to take action. 

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the ACT award recipients. 

“The 2021 ACT Australians of the Year are all dedicated to protecting and helping others, with a common thread of concern for health and wellbeing,” said Ms Brand. 

“They are doing important work and making great contributions – giving ACT residents plenty of reasons to feel proud.” 

ENDS.