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Australian of the Year Award

2014 Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. Image courtesy of the National Australia Day Council.

On Australia Day – 26 January – each year, the Prime Minister of Australia announces the Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, and Local Heroes Awards.

Australian of the Year

The 2014 Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, an Andyamathanha man, is a champion Australian Rules football player with the Sydney Swans. Adam holds an elite place in AFL history, winning two Brownlow Medals and two premierships. He is a four-time All-Australian, member of the Indigenous Team of the Century, and has represented Australia in the International Rules Series.

Adam is proud of his Indigenous heritage and is actively involved with several Indigenous sport and community programs. He has spent time working with troubled youth, including those in youth detention centres. Together with his cousin and former teammate Michael O’Loughlin, Adam established the Go Foundation which empowers the next generation of Indigenous role models in all walks of life. Adam co-chairs the foundation, focused on promoting education, employment and healthy lifestyles

Previous Australians of the Year include: Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles, AC (1963); Australia's first Aboriginal Senator, Neville Bonnor, AO (1979); adventurer and philanthropist Dick Smith (1986); eye surgeon Fred Hollows, AC (1990); artist Arthur Boyd, AC, OBE (1995); Army Chief Lieutenant-General Peter Cosgrove, AC, MC (2001); Professor Fiona Stanley, AC (2003); Professor Tim Flannery (2007); Professor Patrick McGorry (2010); Simon McKeon (2011) ; actor Geoffrey Rush (2012) and Ita Buttrose (2013).

Young Australian of the Year

2014 Young Australian of the Year, Jacqueline Freney. Image courtesy of the National Australia Day Council.

The first Young Australian of the Year Award was announced in 1979.  This Award recognises the achievements of young people aged 16 to 24.

Being born with cerebral palsy has not stopped 2014 Young Australian of the Year, Jacqueline Freney from achieving great success in the sporting arena. Following in the footsteps of her swimming family, Jacqueline set herself the goal to become a competitive swimmer. In 2012, Jacqueline won a remarkable eight gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, becoming Australia’s most successful Paralympian at a single Games. Two of Jacqueline’s performances were under world record time. She won a gold medal for every event in which she competed and her gold medal haul was greater than any other competitor from any country. Her success earned her the crown of Australia’s 2012 Paralympian of the Year.

Jacqueline’s indomitable spirit is not confined to the swimming pool. She is actively involved in the wider community, working with Swimming Australia as a motivational speaker to help other people with disabilities reach their potential. Jacqueline is an inspirational role model and positive proof that, with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

Former Young Australians of the Year include: conductor Simone Young (1986); Olympic champions Cathy Freeman (1990), Kieren Perkins, OAM (1992), and Ian Thorpe (2000); youth leader Trisha Broadbridge (2006); Trooper Mark Donaldson VC (2010); Jessica Watson (2011); Marita Cheng (2012) and Akram Azimi (2013).

Senior Australian of the Year

2014 Senior Australian of the Year, Fred Chaney. Image courtesy of the National Australia Day Council.

The Senior Australian of the Year Award began in 1999.  It honours Australians aged 60 years and over who continue to make a significant contribution to the nation.

The Senior Australian of the Year 2014 is Fred Chaney AO, recognised for his commitment to reconciliation and human rights. Fred's decades of hard work in support of often marginalised people has never faltered. As founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an early advocate for Aboriginal voting rights in 1961 and for the 1967 referendum, Fred’s contribution has included helping establish the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia and his national role as Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

For many years, Fred was Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal and, more recently, is Chair of Desert Knowledge Australia and chaired the Board of Central Desert Native Title services. He was instrumental in establishing the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which supports Indigenous young people to reach their potential.

Now 72 years old, Fred’s long history of public service is rooted in his fierce commitment to social justice and a belief in the inherent equality of people. In all his leadership roles, Fred inspires others to work collaboratively, respectfully and ambitiously to overcome the barriers that inhibit people’s full economic and social participation in Australian society.

Other winners since 1999 include: entertainer and songwriter Slim Dusty; founder and Chairman of the 2002 Year of the Outback Bruce Campbell, MBE (2003); Antonio Milhinhos, businessman and philanthropist, (2005); Maggie Beer (2010); Professor Ron McCallum AO (2011); Laurie Baymarrwangga (2012) and Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks (2013).

Local Heroes

2014 Local Hero, Tim Conolan. Image courtesy of the National Australia Day Council.

The Local Heroes Award was introduced in 2003. It recognises the outstanding work of local communities, and provides an opportunity for more Australians to be recognised for their dedication to improving the lives of those in their neighbourhood. The first national Local Hero 2003 was Superintendent Brian Parry, AFSM, who was recognised for his long service to firefighting.  Other local heroes include patient advocate Toni Hoffman (2006); Ronni Kahn (2010); Donald Ritchie OAM (2011) ; Lynne Sawyers (2012) and Shane Phillips (2013).

Australia’s Local Hero 2014 is Tim Conolan who established the charity TLC for kids to make a difference to children in hospital and undergoing medical treatment. TLC for kids was started in 1998 by Tim and the charity has now assisted more than four million sick children and their families.

Tim was instrumental in developing the TLC’s national Distraction Box program which benefits more than half a million children every year in 400 Australian hospitals. Distraction Boxes include therapeutic toys and items used by healthcare professionals to guide children through frightening and painful procedures, with preliminary research suggesting the toys and items reduce procedure time and hospital waiting lists. Tim’s mission is to ensure every child in every hospital in Australia has the emotional and practical support they need.

Nominations and selection

Anyone can nominate a candidate for the Awards.  Nomination forms are available from the Australian of the Year website or by phoning 1300 130 279.


The National Australia Day Council is acknowledged in providing images and biographies of the winners.

Australian achievement and excellence

Last updated: 28th January 2014
Creators: Clarity Communications Australia Pty Ltd, et al.

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