Celebrating Indigenous finalists in 2018 Australian of the Year Awards

A particularly strong field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander finalists in the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards will be recognised this week at a coinciding national event that celebrates Indigenous success.

In the lead-­up to the announcement of the national winners, Reconciliation Australia will hold its annual Australian of the Year Awards breakfast on Thursday to raise awareness of the immense contributions that First Australians make to bettering our nation.

This year, seven of the 32 state and territory recipients are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, including three of the seven finalists for the main award category of Australian of the Year.

There is at least one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander state-­level recipient in each of the four award categories (Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero). Their contributions span fields such as health, education, justice and cultural engagement.

The breakfast will also recognise non-­Indigenous state and territory award recipients who have done important work to support or promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The significant representation of First Nations Australians has long been a prominent feature of the Australian of the Year Awards program, which is run by the National Australia Day Council.

Since the awards commenced in 1960, there have been eight Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander recipients of the coveted Australian of the Year Award and four Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander recipients of the Young Australian of the Year Award.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said it was important to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander success because respect and unity are key to reconciliation.

“It is critical that we recognise and show our appreciation for the contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have made, and continue to make, to our nation,” she said.

“We often hear about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being over-represented in rates of incarceration or out-­of-­home care.

“But it’s important to remember that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also disproportionately represented in positive ways, such as our level of significant achievements. The high number of Indigenous recipients of Australian of the Year Awards is testament to that fact.”

Ms Mundine said she was particularly excited to recognise the achievements of the four female Aboriginal state and territory recipients, in keeping with this year’s NAIDOC Week theme – Because of Her, We Can.

“Indigenous women are leading the way in their own professions, are heading up community organisations, are driving change in their communities – all while nurturing those around them to become the next generation of leaders.”

List of 2018 recipients

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recipients:

  • Dr Tracy Westerman (WA Australian of the Year)
  • Johnathan Thurston (QLD Australian of the Year)
  • Dion Devow (ACT Australian of the Year)
  • Kathy Guthadjaka (NT Senior Australian of the Year)
  • Bettina Danganbarr (NT Local Hero)
  • Kyran Dixon (SA Young Australian of the Year)
  • Dr Jessica Manuela (TAS Young Australian of the Year)

Non-­Indigenous recipients who support or promote Indigenous communities:

  • Dr Bo Remenyi (NT Australian of the Year)
  • Scott Rankin (TAS Australian of the Year)

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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