Making a difference in people's lives and using sport as one of the pathways has been a guiding principle for the ACT's newest Australian of the Year Katrina Fanning.
Women's rugby league pioneer and appointed a director of the Canberra Raiders earlier this year, Ms Fanning now will represent the ACT at the 60th national awards on January 25, 2020.
The other ACT nominees included men's health campaigner Martin Fisk, nurse and midwife Mary Kirk, and social research leader Hugh Mackay.
Ms Fanning is a Wiradjuri woman who played in the first-ever Jillaroos test in 1995 and went on to make 25 appearances for her country. She was the most capped female player in the world when she retired from sport to focus on championing the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Teary-eyed in accepting the award, she thanked those who nominated her because "lots of times you're not sure what you're doing makes a difference".
"There's so many people along my journey who have done little things to help me out that has made such a big difference," she said.
"I just get a big thrill out of doing the same for others."
Such is the respect earned through her national sporting achievements that the NSW women's rugby league competition is named in her honour.
Five years ago she was named Canberra's woman of the year and ACT NAIDOC person of the year and through senior executive roles in government and in a private consulting capacity, has been a significant force for change in the indigenous community.
The ACT local hero prize went to one of the ACT's busiest and most caring women, Julia Rollings, who has been a foster carer for more than 20 years and brought so many children into their family that her husband, Barry, had to go hunting for a second-hand bus for outings.
Mrs Rollings often looks after infants who are vulnerable, medically fragile, withdrawing from drugs or have experienced significant trauma.
She adopted six children from overseas (and one through foster care) and succeeded in creating a joyous family environment despite some enormous setbacks. Unbelievably, two of the children she and Barry had adopted turned out to be stolen from their mother while she slept - and sold by their father.
The extraordinary Mrs Rollings decided that the boy and girl must be reunited with their birth mother and journeyed to India to make it happen, a story retold and detailed in her moving book Love Our Way.
Chosen as the 2020 senior Australian of the year was Sue Salthouse who was thrown from her horse at the age of 45 and when confined to a wheelchair, became a fierce advocate for bringing positive change to the lives of the disabled.
Ms Salthouse is a former Canberra citizen of the year, recognising her commitment and contribution as a disability advocate. Now aged 70, Sue runs a consultancy company specialising in disability rights advocacy and works in the disability sector.
The ACT's young Australian of the year is 22 year-old Madeline Diamond who is committed to sustainability and grass-roots environmental protection.
She founded an organisation called Trash Mob which focuses on the use of human resources to remove waste from public spaces such as schools and universities, and on recycling whatever is useful.
She has recruited dozens of like-minded supporters from the ACT and surrounding districts who gather on a regular basis to volunteer as community clean-up crews.