Spotlight on 2016 ACT Australian of the Year award finalists
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Spotlight on 2016 ACT Australian of the Year award finalists

Desexing animals in remote Indigenous communities and a former army chief's fight for gender equality are among the contributions made by ACT nominees in the 2016 Australian of the Year awards.

Alison Taylor and Michael Archinal​ have been recognised for their work with the Canberra Mob, a volunteer group that travels to communities in the Northern Territory's Central Desert to desex animals and educate people about the health of their four-legged companions.

Vets Alison Taylor and Michael Archinal work in remote Australian communities.

Vets Alison Taylor and Michael Archinal work in remote Australian communities.

"It's pretty obvious even within one trip, once you start getting population control, there are far fewer skinny, unwell dogs, undernourished dogs and there's also almost 100 per cent control of the scabies infections," Dr Taylor said. "Which also goes on to help [reduce] skin sores in people."

A volunteer since 2011, Dr Taylor said the nomination showed how people could use their skills in community projects.

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Helen Watchirs is an advocate for human rights.

Helen Watchirs is an advocate for human rights.Credit:Jay Cronan

She also said the Canberra Mob was "very much a collaborative effort" with the local shire, health clinics and a similar group, Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities.

ACT Local Hero nominee David Richards, whose annual Christmas light display raises money for families who have lost a child, said his award was thanks to the support around him.

"The nomination letter from the National Australia Day Council was certainly a surprise. I am humbled to have been nominated and, in particular, to have progressed to a finalist," he said.

"I feel that the recognition also belongs to the hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly with me to make the event successful."

Cultural leader Brendan Nelson is among the nominees.

Cultural leader Brendan Nelson is among the nominees.Credit:Jen White

The other nominees for the 2016 ACT Australian of the Year are equality advocate David Morrison AO, cultural leader Brendan Nelson and human rights advocate Helen Watchirs.

Nominees for the 2016 ACT Senior Australian of the Year are cancer support pioneer Yvonne Cuschieri​ OAM, sustainable agriculture advocate Michael Jeffery, medical researcher Chris Parish and scientist and technology advocate Greg Tegart.

Former army chief David Morrison is a consultant to organisations such as Deloitte on leadership.

Former army chief David Morrison is a consultant to organisations such as Deloitte on leadership.Credit:Jay Cronan

Nominees for the 2016 ACT Young Australian of the Year are doctor, science advocate and volunteer Kate Eisenberg, volunteer Sophie Hope, musician Leonard Weiss​ and social entrepreneur Nipuni Wijewickrema.

For the 2016 ACT Local Hero, newborn care champion Peter Cursley, charity founder Fiona Kirk, volunteer fundraiser David Richards and medical researcher Yanping Zhang​ have been nominated.

The recipients will be announced on November 2, 2015 at the National Gallery of Australia.

Alexandra Back is a reporter with The Canberra Times

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