ACT News


Former army chief David Morrison is made ACT Australian of the Year

Equality advocate and former Australian Army chief David Morrison has been made ACT Australian of the Year.

He passionately fought for inclusion and against discrimination throughout his more than 30 years in the army, and was recognised globally for his viral 2013 YouTube video in which he condemned the exploitation and degradation of women.

"The real pleasure I get from this award is that it helps an issue that I think is pivotal for us as Australians now: the opportunities for men and women to reach their potential and to not be held back by any artificial barriers that we put in their way," he said.

The ACT Young Australian of the Year is Nipuni Wijewickrema​, 22, who runs a floristry business from her garden shed that employs people with disabilities. She started the business for her younger sister Gayana who has Down Syndrome.

"As much as this award acknowledges me, it acknowledges my family and the constant support we have," she said.

"I think it's all too common that people with special needs just stay home after school and I really want to change that."


Ms Wijewickrema is also a volunteer counsellor with Lifeline and said it was "such a privilege to be there in someone's darkest hours".

Newborn care champion Peter Cursley​ is the ACT's Local Hero for establishing the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation in 1995 that raises money for the neonatal intensive care unit at the Canberra Hospital.

He did this after losing his baby daughter and then his wife, and the foundation has since raised more than $4 million.

"100 per cent of the money donated goes to helping babies and their families in the region," he said.

The ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2016 is Professor Greg Tegart, who is a leading advocate for  technology that improves the quality of life of aged and disabled people.

"Technology is a friend of the aged and enables people to stay in their homes and not go into institutions," he said.

"Ageism should be phased out of our society and we need to ensure that we don't keep this myth that one day before 65 you're useful and the day after 65 you're useless."

The recipients will attend the national Australian of the Year awards with other finalists from around the country, and the winners will be announced on January 25.