While Grace Tame was always going to be a hard act to follow as Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott has already shown he is capable of rising to the challenge.
Within minutes of being awarded the honour he was calling for more funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, criticising the lack of rapid antigen test kits for people with disability who need to let assistance workers into their homes on a daily basis, and calling out "unconscious" prejudice.
His emotional and well-received speech, leavened with plenty of the lovable larrikinism that made him a household name long before this honour was bestowed upon him, made it very clear Mr Alcott was not being recognised for his disability.
His remarkable abilities as a role model, philanthropist, disability advocate, media commentator, athlete, Paralympian and so much more were on show for all to see.
While Mr Alcott's call for the level of funding for the NDIS to be increased in order to allow people with a disability to be able to fulfil their potential is of vital importance - and needs to be heeded urgently - it is only one half of the equation. The other half, as he pointed out, is the unconscious bias against the disabled in the community.
Too many of us, on meeting a person with a visible disability, only see what we think they cannot do. Mr Alcott, who admitted hating his disability when he was a child because of a lack of role models, said on Wednesday night that he had come to love it. He is right to do so. It is the crucible in which he was forged and the reason he is a beacon for all, not just those with a disability, to rally around.
Noting that only 54 per cent of the 4.5 million Australians living with a disability have a job - and that this metric hasn't shifted in 30 years - he identified community perception as a big part of the problem.
His words were: "Everyone goes, 'Well what do we say to [people with a disability] to get them ready to get out and start living their life?' They don't need our advice, they know what to do.
"The people that need our advice is you, non-disabled people. It's you who need to start changing your unconscious biases and leave the negative stigmas in the past". These deserve to be carved in stone.
While this is a much harder challenge than increasing NDIS funding, it is by far the best way to improve the lives of the disabled while, at the same, enriching our own by embracing the skills, talents and insights that they have to offer.
Mr Alcott was not the only person to be honoured on Wednesday night at the National Arboretum. He was, if anything, a first among equals, given the remarkable contributions of his fellow award recipients.
Long-serving ACT St John's Ambulance volunteer and Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey's call for first aid training to be made mandatory as part of obtaining a driver's licence is so sensible that one can't help wondering why it hasn't happened long ago.
Young Australian of the Year Dr Daniel Nour's work in establishing Street Side Medics, a mobile medical service for the homeless, meets an obvious - but long overlooked - need and deserves to be rolled out in every state and territory in the country.
The same is true of Sober In The Country, a peer support group to combat alcohol addiction in the bush, established by Local Hero 2022 Shanna Whan.
Any one of these people would have made a worthy Australian of the Year, as indeed would the other nominees. But there can only be one. That's Dylan Alcott and he's on a mission to rock our world.
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