2021 Victoria Australian of the Year Award recipients announced

Posted 28 October 2020 11:18am

2021 Victoria Australian of the Year Award recipients announced
2021 Victoria Australian of the Year – Donna Stolzenberg (Melbourne)
2021 Victoria Senior Australian of the Year – Bich Cam Nguyen (Melbourne)
2021 Victoria Young Australian of the Year – Tayla Harris (Melbourne)
2021 Victoria Local Hero – Dr Kirby White (Bendigo) 

Facebook live stream link via @AustralianoftheYear 

Tuesday 27 October 2020, 8:15pm Melbourne: The 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year Awards have been announced this evening in an online, livestreamed awards ceremony.

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

The 2021 Victoria Australian of the Year is founder and CEO of the National Homeless Collective, Donna Stolzenberg. Proud Indigenous woman Donna Stolzenberg is a CEO, keynote speaker and trainer. In 2014, she had the simple idea of handing out 50 donated sleeping bags to homeless people. That idea has evolved into a nationwide charity. The National Homeless Collective (NHC) is a grassroots Australian organisation that helps people affected by homelessness, domestic violence and social disadvantage.

A mother of five boys and a grandmother of two, 52 year old Donna has lived experience of overcoming homelessness and hardship. Under Donna’s direction, NHC has created six sub-charities targeting different issues – Period Project, School Project, Plate Up Project, Sleeping Bags for Homelessness, and Secret Women's Business. It also runs Kala Space, an op shop employing women affected by domestic abuse or homelessness. Donna’s generosity and resourcefulness have provided practical solutions in Australia’s most recent crises. This includes helping women to safely escape homelessness, people affected by bushfires, or those locked down in the Melbourne towers during COVID-19.

Bich Cam Nguyen, the founder, CEO and Honorary Secretary of the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association, is the 2021 Victoria Senior Australian of the Year.  Eighty-year-old Bich Cam Nguyen is the full-time CEO and secretary of the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association (AVWA). This flourishing, fast-growing organisation has 3 offices, more than 200 paid staff, plus volunteers. Cam and her family came to Australia in 1975 as refugees. With her husband and friends – and without any funding – they founded the Vietnamese Friendly Society to provide interpreting services and information about Australia to new Vietnamese refugees. In 1983, supported by 16 Vietnamese professional women, Cam formed the AVWA while bringing up her family and working full-time. The apolitical organisation helps Vietnamese and Victorians of all backgrounds with programs including home care, training, and counselling. In 1995, Cam became AVWA’s full-time executive director and then its CEO since 2004.

Fit, healthy and active, Cam has served on numerous committees including as honorary secretary for a consortium of African organisations. Cam’s dedication has helped refugees and migrants from many backgrounds to feel valued and empowered.

The 2021 Victoria Young Australian of the Year is footballer, boxer and respectful relationships ambassador Tayla Harris.  Tayla Harris is a young Australian athlete making her mark on the sports field and beyond. As a footballer in the AFLW, she was Carlton Football Club’s leading goal-kicker in 2019,

receiving the JLT Mark of the Year Award for two years running. In boxing, Tayla holds the Australian super welterweight title and is undefeated in eight professional fights. After a photograph of Tayla kicking a goal became the target of sexualised trolling online in 2019, she courageously used this experience to fight online bullying and disrespect towards women.  Tayla is now a powerful advocate for respectful relationships. The 23 year old is an ambassador for Our Watch, an organisation working to prevent violence against women. She is also active in Carlton Respects, a Carlton Football Club community initiative that promotes gender equality in Australian schools and workplaces. Her co-authored 2020 book, ‘More Than a Kick’, provides advice to young people on how to navigate social media and deal with online bullying.

Dr Kirby White, founder of Gowns for Doctors, is the 2021 Victoria Local Hero. When Bendigo GP

Dr Kirby White’s supply of disposable gowns ran out in the third week of the COVID-19 outbreak, she and colleague Dr Nicole Townsend decided to act. Together, they developed a gown that could be laundered and re-used, allowing them to keep seeing patients. From their own need, Gowns for Doctors was born. To fund the initiative, 35 year old Kirby raised more than $40,000 through a GoFundMe page and by lobbying local, state and federal organisations and governments. She then engaged local volunteers and commercial textile companies – even her own wedding dress supplier – to make the gowns. Kirby has now produced well over 5,200 gowns, supplying more than 750 regional Victorian GP clinics with these essential garments. She has also built up a stockpile of surplus gowns, which are ready to go out to other clinics when needed. A dedicated and passionate GP, Kirby often checks up on patients late in the evening. She has gone above and beyond for her community and regional Victoria. 

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

“The 2021 Victoria Australians of the Year reflect some of the most important social issues of our time – homelessness and domestic violence, support for our increasingly multicultural community, respect for women and the most recent challenge of COVID-19,” said Ms Brand.

“The award recipients have all stood up when someone needed to and are guiding lights in the community.”

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au. 

ENDS. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Browne on 0414 673 762

VIEW THE AWARDS CEREMONY ONLINE: Follow @AustralianoftheYear on Facebook and follow the link to the livestreamed awards announcement

PHOTOS: of all award nominees are available from the Australian of the Year Awards webpage australianoftheyear.org.au. As this is an online ceremony and due to current COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, photos of recipients with their trophies will be taken at a later date.