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Human rights advocate named ACT Australian of the Year

Human rights advocate, social justice campaigner and indigenous elder Tom Calma has been named ACT Australian of the Year at a ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel this evening.

The former race discrimination commissioner’s report calling for the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation sparked the Close the Gap campaign.

Dr Calma is also adjunct scholar at the ANU’s National Centre for Indigenous Studies.

Meantime, Dr Jim Peacock, Australia’s Chief Scientist from 2006 to 2008, was awarded ACT Senior Australian of the Year for his work in agricultural science.

The executive director of UN Women Australia, 29-year-old Julie McKay, took out the award for ACT Young Australian of the Year and Francis Owusu won ACT Local Hero 2013 for his work using dance to inspire and motivate young people.

The ACT winners will join the recipients from the other states and territories at the national awards in Canberra on January 25, 2013.