Nominees for the 2022 ACT Australian of the Year Awards include basketballer Patty Mills, obstetrician Dr David O'Rourke, Zambrero founder Dr Sam Prince and Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs.
They are among the 16 territorians in the running to be named the state's Local Hero, Young Australian, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year.
Australian of the Year
- Patrick (Patty) Mills, Basketball player and Indigenous rights advocate
- Dr Sam Prince, Doctor and entrepreneur
- Dr David O'Rourke OAM, Obstetrician and co-founder of Mother Ignacia Hospital
- Dr Marrwah Ahmadzai, Doctor and diversity advocate
Young Australian of the Year
- Asha Clementi, Co-founder of The Girls Leadership Network
- Sean Dondas, Advocate and Youth Leader, CanTeen
- Jahin Tanvir, Policy adviser and multicultural youth advocate
- Matthew Breen, Founder of Running for Resilience
Senior Australian of the Year
- Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services
- Anne Buttsworth AM PSM, Chair of the Early Morning Centre
- Valmai Dempsey, Volunteer at St John Ambulance
- Gregory Aldridge, CEO of EveryMan Australia
ACT Local Hero
- Kelli-Ann Jackson, Group Leader of Women's Adventure ACT
- Kate Crowhurst, Financial literacy educator
- Luke Ferguson, Youth support worker at The Woden School
- Robert Regent, Founder and Head Coach at Everyday Champions
Australian of the Year
NBA Champion and Brooklyn Nets basketball player Patty Mills has applied the determination he is known for on the court to his charitable and advocacy endeavours off it.
The Canberra-born recently competed in his fourth Olympics, creating history as the first Indigenous Australian Olympics flag bearer.
Mr Mills is the founder of the Team Mills Foundation, which has funded causes as diverse as wildlife conservation to women's shelters. He also donated $1.5 million salary to organisations tackling racial inequality in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement swept the world.
Earlier this year, Mr Mills launched Indigenous Community Basketball League. The league is aimed at under-14s and will be run on Thursday Island, plus in Cairns, Brisbane, Dubbo, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin and Perth.
Dr Sam Prince
Dr Sam Prince founded Mexican restaurant chain Zambrero in 2005. Through its Plate 4 Plate initiative, the business has donated over 50 million meals to people in need.
Dr Prince has also used profits from from Zambrero to create aid organisation One Disease, which has effectively eliminated Crusted Scabies - a disease affecting remote Indigenous communities in Australia. The disease has a 50 per cent mortality rate within five years if left untreated.
Dr David O'Rourke
Dr David O'Rourke spent eight years fundraising to build a maternity hospital in West Timor, Indonesia after a trip in 2009.
The obstetrician contributed $1.2 million in patient fees earned at his private practice in Deakin to open the Mother Ignacia Hospital in Soe, West Timor.
Since opening its doors, the hospital has treated more than 46,000 patients in the poverty-stricken town, focusing on child and maternal health.
Dr Marrwah Ahmadzai
Dr Marrwah Ahmadzai is an obstetrics and gynaecology registrar who has used the media to promote diversity and provide support to migrants and refugees.
Dr Ahmadzai has used her platform to develop videos on refugee health, speak publicly about the values of diversity and the experiences of migrants in Australia.
She represents the junior doctor body at the Canberra Region Medical Education Council, ANU COVID- 19 peer support program and the Council of Doctors-in-Training.
Young Australian of the Year
Through her work as co-founder of The Girls Leadership Network and founder of Girls Run The World, Asha Clementi is inspiring young women to pursue their leadership dreams.
The Girls Leadership Network holds a series of free leadership workshops for young women aged 16 to 21, inspiring participants to create and run their own initiatives - from school clubs to social impact start-ups.
Girls Run The World encourages young women to engage in diplomacy, by allowing young women to spend a day in a participating Embassy or High Commission, meeting with Ambassadors and making tangible contributions to the embassy's work.
Canteen board member Sean Dondas was only 16 when his mum Saluna died of cervical cancer. When their father wouldn't take them in, he and his two younger brothers were left in foster care.
He has used his life experience to support youth cancer charity CanTeen, where he now serves as a board member.
Mr Dondas' input to the charity in the last 13 years has helped shape decisions on a range of vital strategies, including clinical trials, youth cancer services, community-based support, and an online support community and counselling service.
Buoyed by his experiences as a first-generation migrant facing racism and discrimination, Jahin Tanvir has become a leading advocate for young people across Australia's multicultural communities.
Jahin has worked with organisations such as Oaktree, the Australian Red Cross, World Vision, headspace Canberra, and the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.
Vocal about the importance of mental health, Jahin regularly visits high schools to offer support to students who might be struggling with stress and anxiety due to the pandemic. He's also represented Australia on the global stage, as a guest speaker at the Australasian Aid Conference and the National Youth Commission Summit.
When Matt Breen lost his dad to suicide in 2010 and his mum to ovarian cancer in February 2021, he turned to exercise as a coping mechanism. It helped him feel good about himself and connect with others in a safe and unthreatening environment.
He established Running for Resilience in 2019, to spread the mantra he developed after the sudden death of his father: just keep moving.
The group started with just 20 participants. Now it regularly hosts anywhere between 60 to 120 runners on the Kingston Foreshore every Wednesday night, with a smaller group on Friday mornings.
Senior Australian of the Year
While working at Canberra Hospital more than 30 years ago, Julie Tongs initiated a liaison service to bridge the gap between Indigenous patients and hospital staff.
This work led her to become CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services in 1998. Winnunga provides a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access health and community services.
A Wiradjuri woman, Julie is always generous with her time, readily available to offer advice and information on matters involving the health and wellbeing of the Australian Capital Territory's Indigenous population.
Julie also dedicates her time advocating for Indigenous people in Canberra, particularly those in the criminal justice system.
Starting as a cadet volunteer while still in primary school, for more than 50 years 'Aunty Val' Dempsey has dedicated her life to St John Ambulance. She's one of the Australian Capital Territory's longest-serving volunteers.
In 2020, Val faced her biggest challenge yet as a St John Ambulance volunteer - first with the 'Black Summer' bushfires, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, she led 40 fellow volunteers as they supported fire-affected communities during the emergency that stretched over many weeks.
Then when the pandemic hit, Val displayed unwavering commitment to the St John team, despite heavy impacts on team morale. Without hesitation, she personally contacted every volunteer to check on their mental health and wellbeing.
Anne Buttsworth is Chair of the Early Morning Centre in Canberra, which provides support to people who are homeless.
Ms Buttsworth has been an active contributor to the success of the Australian Women's Archives Project, playing a major role in documenting the lives of Australian women.
Through her inspiring leadership and contagious enthusiasm, Anne has built teams to achieve impressive goals that strengthen the community around her. She also excels in her mentorship of young female leaders.
Founder of EveryMan Australia and registered psychologist Greg Aldridge has spent two decades heling men with a range of issues take control of their lives - starting with their violent and aggressive behaviours.
Mr Aldridge also supports men who live with high and complex needs, arising from childhood exposure to domestic violence and sexual abuse, mental health conditions, substance use, intellectual disability and acquired brain injury.
He is a member of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, and was previously a board member for the ACT Council of Cultural & Community Organisations.
ACT Local Hero
Women's Adventure ACT group leader Kelli Jackson helps women experience the outdoors in a safe, supportive and judgement-free way, allowing them to grow stronger and more confident in every area of their life.
As a full-time volunteer, Ms Jackson helps other group volunteers build the skills and confidence they need to lead group activities.
She was inspired to take on leading and running the group in 2018 after facing some difficult life challenges, and wanting to give something back to community in an adventurous way.
Financial literacy educator Kate Crowhurst wants students to nail the one thing many don't even learn at school - their finances.
Ms Crowhurst studied financial literacy at the University of Melbourne and the University of Cambridge, returning to Australia to work on national education policy and programs.
She launched Money Bites in 2019 as a financial literacy platform that makes learning about money more accessible to young people, by presenting important financial concepts in bite-sized snippets.
She has worked with the Foundation of Young Australians as a Young Social Pioneer and supports young people globally as a Coordinating Ambassador for One Young World. Kate is now turning her attention to reversing the economic disadvantages women face in Australia.
At The Woden School - a Canberra high school catering to the functional needs of students with disabilities - Luke Ferguson empowers young people with disability to increase their independence, achieve their goals, and engage with the wider community.
In 2019, Mr Ferguson established Party Down Productions, an inclusive school-wide music program that engages students in all aspects of event planning. This includes teaching them to use Photoshop to make posters, set playlists and perform as DJs.
Through the program, Luke helps to break down barriers, remove stigma and enhance the self-esteem of young people with disability, by shifting the focus to their innate ability to spark joy in the lives of those around them.
Founder and Head Coach at Everyday Champions, Rob Regent is a passionate advocate for people with a disability, using his passion for sport, health and fitness to create a more understanding and inclusive community.
Having travelled the world setting up sporting programs in developing countries, Rob turned his attention to his local community when he founded Everyday Champions in Canberra.
Involved in sport and disability services for 20 years, Rob was previously a community educator at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, a project officer at Right To Play, and a sport and development consultant for Sport Australia.
Rob has also been a mentor and community outreach coordinator for Menslink, and a sport development manager for the Special Olympics Australia in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.
- ACM, the publisher of The Canberra Times, is a media partner of the Australian of the Year Awards 2022.
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