JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

ACT News

Live: Australia Day awards

ACT finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. From left: Julie McKay (Young Australian of the Year 2013 ACT finalist), Dr Jim Peacock (Senior Australian of the Year 2013 ACT finalist), Francis Owusu (Australia's Local Hero ACT finalist) and Dr Tom Calma (Australian of the Year ACT finalist).

ACT finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards. From left: Julie McKay (Young Australian of the Year 2013 ACT finalist), Dr Jim Peacock (Senior Australian of the Year 2013 ACT finalist), Francis Owusu (Australia's Local Hero ACT finalist) and Dr Tom Calma (Australian of the Year ACT finalist). Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Sort posts by:

That's where we will leave it for the night. Thanks for joining us at

And congratulations again to all those nominated tonight, especially the four Canberrans. There are some very impressive names in that list.

Check back here later for more articles on the recipients and all the colour of tonight's entertainment.

And don't forget to follow The Canberra Times on Twitter

Canberra Times photographer Graham Tidy has been out capturing all the colour of tonight's festivities. You can have a look at some of his shots in the gallery below.

Almost the only thing challenging green and gold for complete dominance on the lawns of Parliament House tonight is the red, white and blue of the Australian flag. There's lots of patriotism on display, and lots of big smiles as people enjoy the evening out.

Performer Timomatic, on
stage. Click for more photos

Australia celebrates at Parliament House

Performer Timomatic, on stage. Photo: Graham Tidy

Now that she's been named Australian of the Year, Ita gets to face the press pack. It's something she's done plenty of times before, but she is equally at home on the other side of the cameras.

Ita Buttrose prepares for her first press conference as 2013 Australian of the Year.

Ita Buttrose prepares for her first press conference as 2013 Australian of the Year. Photo: Christopher Knaus

And if you’re looking to get out and about and wave an Aussie flag somewhere, there’s plenty more going on in Canberra this weekend.

There’s a special race day at Thoroughbred Park, a flyover and 21-gun salute, a citizenship ceremony, fireworks – and of course a chance to meet and greet Peppa Pig.

If you are wondering what to do, have a look at our guide.

Thankfully the weather is good for tonight’s concert, but as Hamish Boland-Rudder and Sally Pryor report, the rest of the weekend is looking a bit wet.

It will be no Cold Chisel affair when Jimmy Barnes takes to the stage in Canberra tonight, with the warm, dry conditions set to stick around at least until the end of the Australia Celebrates Live concert on the lawns of Parliament House.

But those planning on celebrating outdoors over the Australia Day long weekend might need to make alternative plans, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's Magda Galos-Lorenc.

The Canberra forecaster said Saturday afternoon would bring widespread rainfall to the capital, which would increase on Sunday.

“It looks like Sunday will probably be the worst for precipitation," Ms Galos-Lorenc said.

Read the full article here

Next up is the Australia Day Live concert, from 7.30pm.

There are lots of big names getting ready, lead by Jimmy Barnes. Let's see if he belts out Cold Chisel's Ita. It would be pretty appropriate tonight.

Other highlights from the concert are Guy Sebastian and the Presets, not to forget Canberra favourite Timomatic, who gets a second go on stage tonight after keeping the crowd entertained while they waited for the big announcement of Australian of the Year.

So to wrap things up, Ita Buttrose, from NSW, is the 2013 Australian of the Year. South Australia's Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks is Senior Australian of the Year for his “lifetime of health care achievements”. “Inspiring refugee and mentor” Akram Azimi of Western Australia is Young Australian of the Year and Indigenous community leader Shane Phillips from NSW is Australia’s Local Hero.

As Jacqueline Maley writes:

It's Ita. Former copy girl, journalist, famous lisper, editrix-extraordinaire. The woman who, as editor of the Australian Women's Weekly, liked to catch the bus to work because bus trips were an excellent time to read and touch up nail polish. The lady - because she is a real lady - whose brains and strength of character saw her become the first female appointment to the News Ltd board (she said she "often felt lonely"). The single working mother who rejoiced when retail trading hours were extended in 1984 because it had been such a terrible rush, cramming all that kid-ferrying and shopping into short Saturday mornings.

Read the full article

Candidates for Australian of the Year on stage at tonight's ceremony.

Candidates for Australian of the Year on stage at tonight's ceremony. Photo: Christopher Knaus

Big applause for Ita as she takes the stage.

"This is one of the proudest moments of my life and I am truly honoured and conscious of following in the footsteps of so many distinguished Australians," she said.

She said she was being honoured for doing things she has enjoyed, being a journalist and working for causes that she has a passion for.

She wants to use her time as Australian of the Year to promote a more positive approach to ageing, and tacking ageist attitudes in society. She also wants to encourage people to adopt preventative health strategies.

"I believe preventative health strategies need to begin in childhood and be followed all through life," she said.

Ms Buttrose called for more funding for medical research.

"We can beat dementia if we tackle it in the same way we have HIV-AIDS, cancer and heart disease - as a community," she said.

"There is much to be done, but nothing is impossible."

It’s not the first time Ita has been named Australian of the Year. A promotional video for a non-government health education provider and an anti-virus software company labelled her as Australian of the Year, although organisers were quick to say it was a mistake.

Read the full article

Ita Buttrose, Australian of the Year 2013.

Ita Buttrose, Australian of the Year 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Organisers said Ms Buttrose was chosen for her “extraordinary and inspiring achievements in a groundbreaking media career and her role in raising awareness of health care and media issues”.

Ita was born in Potts Point, and grew up in Sydney’s eastern suburbs before beginning her career as a 15-year-old copy girl at The Australian Women’s Weekly. She quickly became a cadet journalist on the women's section at the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.

“At just 23 she was appointed women’s editor of these two newspapers   and, in 1971, created Cleo magazine for Sir Frank and Kerry Packer. It was an instant hit, becoming the top selling monthly women’s magazine and propelling Ita to national celebrity status,” organisers said.

“Three years later she was appointed editor of The Women’s Weekly. In 1980 she became the first woman editor of an Australian metropolitan newspaper - the Murdoch owned Daily Telegraph and later the Sunday Telegraph. She was the first woman appointed to the News Limited board in 1981.”

Ms Buttrose has also been a champion of social and health issues, including alzheimer’s, arthritis, macular degeneration, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer.

Here's the PM again.

"Australians one and all, your Australian of the Year for 2013 is Ita Buttrose."

Rush wound up 12 months as 2012 Australian of the Year earlier today.

In his valedictory speech at a lunch in Canberra for this year's Australian of the Year finalists, the Oscar winner said he was often asked what it meant to be an Australian.

Rush told how he gained a sense of Australia's multi-dimensional character while travelling on a train to Melbourne, snaking through the suburbs with ever-changing contours before dropping into the mix of people in Flinders Street.

Real the full story here

Geoffrey Rush, the 2012 Australian of the Year.

Geoffrey Rush, the 2012 Australian of the Year. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Geoffrey Rush was last year’s winner.

“Geoffrey Rush has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. He also has three Australian Film Institute honours, three British Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, and last year was inducted into the ranks of Australia’s elite with a Helpmann Award,” the citation read.

Dr Tom Calma, ACT nominee for Australian of the Year 2013.

Dr Tom Calma, ACT nominee for Australian of the Year 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Organisers described Dr Calma’s work as an advocate for human rights and social justice as inspirational, saying he has dedicated his life to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“For more than four decades he has championed the importance of empowerment – a passion which runs through his work  in education, training, employment, health, justice reinvestment and development,” they said when he was nominated.

Dr Calma is a former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner and race discrimination commissioner.

“His landmark report calling for the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation laid the groundwork for the Close the Gap campaign,” they said.

And we're getting closer to the big one. It's time for the nominations for Australian of the Year.

Social justice campaigner Dr Tom Calma is the ACT’s nomination.

He’s up against media icon Ita Buttrose, from NSW, businessman and philanthropist Harold Mitchell from, Victoria, cancer researcher Professor Adele Green from Queensland, Entrepreneur and philanthropist Kerry Stokes from Western Australia, cyber safety campaigner Sonya Ryan from South Australia, adventure teacher Andrew Hughes from Tasmania and indigenous talent mentors Mark Grose and Michael Hohnen.

Timomatic will perform at the Australia Celebrates Live concert.

Timomatic will perform at the Australia Celebrates Live concert. Photo: Supplied

It's Timomatic time!

The Canberra-born is on stage singing Powderfinger's My Happiness.

He takes the stage again later on tonight on the lawns of Parliament House alongside Jimmy Barnes, Guy Sebastian and others for the Australia Celebrates Live concert.

Earlier, Timomatic told us it's a privilege to perform with such experienced musicians and he is humbled to be included in the exceptional line-up.

Read more about Timomatic here


Professor Maddocks is on stage and says he is humble to accept the award knowing the many achievements of the other nominees.

He says Australia has some of the best palliative care services, but many miss out.

"Being an Australian opens doors of opportunity and privilege. For me, some were pinoeering medicine in New Guinea, working with colleagues to oppose nuclear war..." he said.

"Also being inspired by the resilience and dignity of patients in their last days. We have much to be grateful for."

Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, Senior Australian of the Year 2013.

Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, Senior Australian of the Year 2013. Photo: Supplied

Professor Ian Maddocks'  is one of Australia’s pre-eminent palliative care specialists and a passionate advocate for the cause of peace. 

His citation said he has been a key leader for many years in the Medical Association for the Prevention  of War and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.

"After promoting the development of palliative care in southern Adelaide for some years,  Professor Maddocks was appointed Professor of Palliative Care at Flinders University in 1988, pursuing a rigorous teaching and research program as well as caring for his patients," it said.

"He was elected first President of the Australian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and first President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine.

"Recognised internationally for his work in palliative care, tropical and preventative medicine, Professor Maddocks’ texts are used world-wide"

The PM is back with another envelope.

"Thank you and the winner of our Senior Australian of the Year is Professor Ian Maddocks," she said.

Laurie Baymarrwangga, Senior Australian of the Year 2012.

Laurie Baymarrwangga, Senior Australian of the Year 2012. Photo: Mari Ekkje

Last year’s Senior Australian of the Year went to Laurie Baymarrwangga, an elder from the island of Murrungga in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

“In the nine decades since her birth on the island of Murrungga, Laurie Baymarrwangga has seen the arrival of missionaries, exploitation by Japanese and European fishermen, war and tumultuous change. Undaunted, she has almost single-handedly nurtured the inter-generational transmission of local ecological knowledge through a lifelong commitment to caring for kin, culture and country. In the 1960s Laurie established a housing project on her homelands that has benefitted generations of kin. Speaking no English, with no access to funding, resources or expertise she initiated the Yan-nhangu dictionary project,” her citation said.

Dr Jim Peacock, ACT nominee for Senior Australian of the Year.

Dr Jim Peacock, ACT nominee for Senior Australian of the Year. Photo: Melissa Adams

Dr Jim Peacock, who headed up the CSIRO Plant Industry division for 26 years and was Australia’s chief scientist between 2006 and 2008, was nominated for his work as an agricultural scientist.

“Dr Jim Peacock has been at the frontline of food and  agricultural breakthroughs including the development of insect resistant cotton in Australia,” his nomination said.

“He has long championed the great benefits of industry partnered science, establishing the CSIRO as one of the leading plant research institutes in the world.”

He developed a low GI, high fibre variety of barley and is responsible for advances in plant hybrid vigour that have significant implications for global food security.

Organisers said he was a “committed, energetic and inspirational leader in the science world”.

“He is also dedicated to instilling the excitement and the potential of science in young Australians. One novel  approach was to pair more than 1500 of Australia’s leading scientists with primary and high school teachers.  Jim was also a driving force behind the establishment of the Discovery Centre in Canberra to showcase CSIRO research,  connect industry and science and to give thousands of children the opportunity to have a ‘hands-on’ science experience.”

It's Senior Australian next.

Scientist Dr Jim Peacock is the ACT's candidate, and he is up against submarine designer Ron Allum from NSW, medical scientist Professor T John Martin from Victoria, swimming coach Laurie Lawrence from Queensland, meningococcal campaigners Lorraine and Barry Young from Western Australia, palliative care specialist Professor Ian Maddocks from South Australia, human rights champion Anna Crotty from Tasmania and community physician Dr Sadhana Mahajani from the Northern Territory.

Akram is up on stage.

"Wow. Thank you so much for that incredibly generous applause. Thank you Prime Minister for your leadership on polio. From the bottom of my heart thank you," he said.

There is lots of thanks, particularly for his family back home in the Kimberley.

"My mum is the hero of my story. I describe her as silk on steel," he said.

Akram Azimi, Young Australian of the Year 2013.

Akram Azimi, Young Australian of the Year 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Akram's citation tells us he arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 1999 as a refugee.

"His journey in Australia took him from ‘an ostracised refugee kid with no prospects’  to becoming his school's head boy," it said.

"An outstanding student at Warwick Senior High School, he topped the tertiary entrance exam scores among his classmates. He's now studying a triple major - law, science and arts - at the University of Western Australia.

"Intent on giving back to his adopted country, Akram uses his leadership and pastoral skills to help young people in remote and rural Western Australia.  In 2011 he co-founded a studentrun initiative I am the other, set up to raise awareness about Indigenous issues in universities.

"His philanthropic roles have included working with True Blue Dreaming, which helps disadvantaged remote Indigenous communities. For three years, Akram mentored young Indigenous people in the Looma community in the Kimberley region and he has mentored primary school students in the small farming community of Wyalkatchem, in WA’s wheat belt. He is also mentoring a Special Olympics athlete to help raise community awareness of disability issues."

The PM is back at the microphone.

"They are all the most amazing young people, congratulatinos to all of you," she said.

And the winner this year is ... Akram Azimi.

Akram came from war-torn Afghanistan to Perth as an 11 year old boy.

Marita Cheng, Young Australian of the Year 2012.

Marita Cheng, Young Australian of the Year 2012. Photo: Melissa Adams

Last year’s Young Australian of the year was 22-year-old engineering advocate Marita Cheng.

“While still a university student, Marita Cheng has demonstrated vision and leadership well beyond her years and is dedicated to encouraging young women to become interested in a career in engineering. The daughter of Chinese parents, Marita was born and raised in far north Queensland and now studies at the University of Melbourne. She founded Robogals Global in 2008, as a response to the traditionally low levels of participation by women in engineering and technology. Robogals uses fun and educational activities to teach schoolgirls about engineering and the difference that engineers make to our lives,” her citation said.

Megan Doherty wrote earlier today about the link between Mr Owusu and singer and dancer Timomatic.

They each have African heritage but made Canberra their home. And together these best friends will celebrate their success in the national capital on the eve of Australia Day.

Singer and dancer Timomatic (aka former Narrabundah College student Tim Omaji) will follow up a world-beating performance at the Miss Universe contest last month to take to the stage for the Australia Celebrates Live concert on the lawns of Parliament House on Friday evening.

Just before the concert, the man Timomatic considers an older brother, Canberra's Francis Owusu, will represent the ACT as its finalist in the Australia's Local Hero category of the Australian of the Year awards, to be announced on the forecourt of Parliament House. Mr Owusu, 27, of Chisholm, has been recognised for his work with Kulture Break, using dance among young people to ''transform a culture of negativity into a culture of pride and achievement''.

Read the full article

Julie McKay, ACT nominee for Young Australian of the Year 2013.

Julie McKay, ACT nominee for Young Australian of the Year 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Julie McKay, 29, is executive director of UN Women Australia, allowing her to “combine her passion for social justice with her leadership and management skills to expand the organisation’s reach and strengthen its links with government and business”.

“From a small office in Canberra, Julie McKay is part of a global United Nations campaign to improve the lives of the millions of women who every day struggle against poverty, violence and discrimination,” organisers said. 

“In 2010 she was the Australian Institute of Management’s Young Manager of the Year and the following year she was the Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year in the ACT. She recently completed a Global Executive MBA at the University of Sydney.”

They said she was a remarkable model for young women and her experience in the corporate and not for profit sectors and studies in management and public policy made her an outstanding advocate for women.

“Julie takes on the critical challenges for women today including improving their economic independence, encouraging more women to be role models and leaders and reducing violence against women both in Australia and the world,” they said.

Next up is Young Australian.

Julie McKay is the ACT’s candidate. She’s up against footballer and mentor Corey Payne from NSW, Victorian anti-poverty campaigner Hayley Bolding, Olympic champion Sally Pearson from Queensland, mentor Akram Azimi from Western Australia, social campaigner Vanessa Picker from South Australia, teacher Holly Barnewall from Tasmania and singer and actor Jessica Mauboy from the Northern Territory.

Accepting his award, Mr Phillips acknowledges the Ngambri community.

He says he is collecting the award on behalf of everyone in his community. He said everyone there was working together and not being reactive but proactive.

He said the award went out to kids and older people who had written themselves off.

"You are the answer. It starts with the simple things, but you have to own the answer," he said.

"Thank you for the opportunity and enjoy. I am sure they are in Redfern."

The 48-year-old Mr Phillips' citation said he was a respected member of the Redfern Aboriginal Community in Sydney and was regarded as the voice of the community on issues including juvenile justice and Aboriginal deaths in custody.

"He is the full time CEO of the Tribal Warrior Association, a non-profit organisation directed by Aboriginal people and Elders that offers training for employment and helps at the grassroots level with emergency relief for struggling families," it said.

"Shane also operates a mentoring program to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.  The concept is uncomplicated: it’s about forming good habits, guiding by example, including everyone and acknowledging achievements. Shane is also credited with improving the relationship between his community and the police.  Since the 2009 introduction of the Clean Slate Without Prejudice program run in collaboration with the police, the number of robberies committed by local youth has declined by 80 per cent."

The citation says he is an "outstanding community leader, respected for his great integrity and capacity to work hard and get things done".

There's some pretty inspiring stuff hearing from some of the young men and women he has helped. No doubt we will have a bit of that tonight.

Shane Phillips, Australia's Local Hero 2013.

Shane Phillips, Australia's Local Hero 2013. Photo: Glenn Campbell

Julia Gillard takes the envelope and announces ... Australia’s Local Hero 2013 is Indigenous community leader Shane Phillips of Redfern.

Last year’s local hero was Lynne Sawyers.

“In fostering children, Lynne Sawyers travels hundreds of kilometres every week, prepares up to 15 meals a day, washes clothes, sews, bakes and raises funds. For 15 years, she has been on call to care for lost, abused and bewildered children in heartbreaking circumstances. She has fostered more than 200 children, many of whom arrived on her doorstep with huge problems, physical, intellectual and emotional,” her citation read.

Francis Owusu was nominated for his use of dance to “stimulate others to build their confidence and self-belief, as it did for him”.

“A child of Ghanaian parents, Francis grew up in Victoria where he endured racism born of ignorance which almost propelled him towards a life of crime. Moving to Canberra he turned his life around through dance, going on to study finance banking at university by day and exploding on stage by night as a member of the band 925,” organisers said.

“Driven by a determination to share his good fortune, he organised after-school dance classes for children. And so began Kulture Break, its name reflecting Francis’ passion to transform a culture of negativity into a culture of pride and achievement.

“Over the past decade Francis and Kulture Break have performed with thousands of children in schools, community centres and jails, inspiring and motivating them. For Francis, Kulture Break is a reflection of his belief that life is not characterised by what you have received but what you can give.”

Mr Owusu has worked with major recording artists Marcia Hines, Jon Stevens and Guy Sebastian.

Francis Owusu, ACT nominee for Local Hero 2013.

Francis Owusu, ACT nominee for Local Hero 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Local hero is the first category. And the first person we hear from is Francis Owusu.

Francis is up against NSW indigenous leader Shane Phillips, community volunteer Pam Adams from Victoria, community champion Sergeant Dimitrios (Jim) Bellos from Queensland, indigenous health advocate Caroline de Mori from Western Australia, women’s advocate Anna Kemp from South Australia, environmentalist Gwen Egg from Tasmania and youth campaigner Peter Fletcher from the Northern Territory.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is up, and she is congratulating all the nominees.

"Through the Australian of the Year awards, we don’t cut them down, we lift them up; honouring in them all that is best about our nation, our values and ourselves," she said.

"I warmly congratulate the 2013 Australian of the Year award winners and commend them to the nation; a nation they’ve done so much to enrich and so much to serve."

Welcome to The Canberra Times' live coverage of the Australian of the Year Awards, live from the lawns of Parliament House in the nation's capital.