Who will be our 2023 Australian of the Year?
From nominations submitted by the public, 32 people are in the running to be named 2023 Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero.
The national finalists for Australian of the Year include a maggot farmer taking climate action, a former Socceroo turned human rights activist, an Indigenous musician and a professor advocating for better end-of-life care for the terminally ill.
One of these inspiring Aussies will be named Australian of the Year at the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards to be presented in Canberra on January 25 and televised on the ABC from 7.30pm.
Insect farming pioneer and founder of Goterra.
Olympia Yarger is a climate action warrior, a maggot farmer and founder of the Insect Protein Association of Australia. She even had a fly named after her by the CSIRO (Hermetia Olympea), a soldier fly species from the Daintree rainforest).
The founder of agritech start-up Goterra, Olympia is an insect farming pioneer and has developed an innovative waste management system that uses maggots to process food waste and reduce greenhouse gases.
Her 'Maggot Robot' system houses larvae of the black soldier fly inside portable units. Food waste is fed to the maggots and, similar to a worm farm, the larvae's excretions become fertiliser. The maggots themselves become protein-rich feed for livestock and aquaculture.
It's already being used by Woolworths and in Sydney's Barangaroo precinct. So far, 47-year-old Olympia's system has processed more than 35,000 tonnes of waste and saved more than 66,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Human rights and anti-racism activist and former Socceroo.
Craig Foster AM is one of Australia's most powerful voices for the disadvantaged.
The 29-times-capped Socceroo and award-winning sports broadcaster has spent the past decade campaigning for refugee rights and marginalised communities. He also promotes anti-racism, allyship and what he calls 'active multiculturalism' - communities protecting each other.
Craig was influential in helping the Afghan Women's National Football Team, Paralympians, taekwondo athletes and many other girls and women escape Afghanistan as the Taliban took hold of the country in August 2021.
Two years earlier, Craig helped secure the release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi who faced extradition to Bahrain from Thailand. More recently, he led a campaign to free refugees still trapped off and onshore in Australia.
Patron of Australia's Indigenous football teams, 53-year-old Craig works tirelessly for a better Australia including the 'Racism. It Stops With Me' and #RacismNotWelcome campaigns, and volunteers at the Addison Road Community Organisation and food pantry in Sydney's Inner West.
Chair of the Northern Land Council.
Raised as a proud Mayili man, 60-year-old Samuel Bush-Blanasi has worked for decades at local and national levels to empower Indigenous Australians.
As Chair and Deputy Chair of the Northern Land Council, he has been instrumental in securing sea country rights in Arnhem Land for traditional owners, and the incorporation in 2022 of the Aboriginal Sea Company (ASC).
The ASC is the first of its kind and will enable traditional owners to oversee commercial fishing, aquaculture
and other fishing-related activities along the Arnhem Land coastline. It will provide employment and enable Aboriginal people to manage profitable and sustainable fishing.
Samuel, 61, has also supported native title claims, recently overseeing the historic hand-back of the remaining half of Kakadu National Park to 14 clan estate groups.
Nationally, he's pushed for reform of the Australian Constitution, joining forces with Indigenous leaders to host dialogue and develop the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist and producer.
Proud Kalkadunga man William Barton is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, didgeridoo player and renowned classical composer.
Growing up on Kalkadungu country, Mount Isa, he learned didgeridoo (yidaki) from his uncle, Arthur Peterson, a Wannyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga elder. William left school at 12 to concentrate on music. By age 17, he had performed with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
William, who holds honorary doctorates from both Griffith University and the University of Sydney and an associate professor at the Australian National University, has released five albums on the ABC Classics label including Heartland with Véronique Serret featuring the words of William's mother Aunty Delmae Barton.
The 41-year-old was the 2019 artist in residence at Melbourne Recital Centre, a Creative Consultant for Australia Day Live and has won multiple awards, including the 2021 Australia Council Don Banks Music Award for his sustained contribution to music. In 2022 William's 'Of The Earth' opened the new Opera House Concert Hall.
Body image activist, director, writer and speaker.
Documentary director Taryn Brumfitt leads the Body Image Movement, an Adelaide-based organisation that teaches people to love and appreciate their bodies. Her 2016 documentary Embrace tackled the serious issue of women's body loathing and Taryn's path to body acceptance. It was seen by millions of people in 190 countries and is available on Netflix.
Taryn has written four best-selling books. She released a documentary, Embrace Kids, in September 2022 that aims to teach nine- to 14-year-olds to move, nourish, respect and appreciate what their bodies can do.
The 45-year-old has collaborated with body image expert Dr Zali Yager to create an Embrace Kids companion parenting book. They have also created the Embrace Hub - a free, research-based resource for teachers, parents, children and communities on fostering body positivity.
Taryn's work has reached more than 200 million people. She is an internationally recognised keynote speaker whose work is recognised by UN Women.
Humanitarian and co-founder of Culturally Diverse Alliance of Tasmania and African Communities Council of Tasmania.
John Kamara escaped war-torn Sierra Leone 19 years ago and started a new life in Tasmania in 2004. Now 39, he does all he can to assist migrants, refugees and people from culturally diverse communities. His own experiences and work in child protection mean he understands the challenges new arrivals and marginalised groups face.
Sitting on multiple boards and involved in many community groups, John highlights systemic disadvantages for migrants such as racism, labour exploitation and recognition of overseas qualifications. He also assists with migrants' resumes and their search for jobs and housing.
John co-founded the Culturally Diverse Alliance of Tasmania to support education and promote social cohesion, as well as the first ever African Communities Council of Tasmania. It strives to cement relationships among African Australians and the wider community.
He and his wife, Mavis, have also since established Kamara's Heart Foundation, a charity to assist children in Sierra Leone.
Paediatrician and co-founder of Health Awareness Society of Australia.
Dr Angraj Khillan sold offerings outside a temple as a student in India to fund his medical books. Today, the paediatrician changes lives by delivering healthcare and health education to culturally diverse communities in Australia.
Angraj co-founded the Health Awareness Society of Australia (HASA) in 2018 to dispel taboos, myths and misinformation about health. Its volunteers deliver forums and virtual sessions in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic on topics from mental health to COVID-19 vaccinations.
But HASA is just one way he's made a difference. The beloved 'Dr Raj' energised and extended the fly-in fly-out paediatric service for Aboriginal children in remote communities after migrating to Australia in 2004 and becoming the Royal Darwin Hospital's paediatrician.
The 63-year-old has worked to raise awareness of domestic violence and dowry abuse since moving to Melbourne in 2010, raising funds for philanthropy in India, East Timor, Australia and much more.
Researcher and advocate for end-of-life care, bereavement and grief support.
Professor Samar Aoun advocates for a person-centred approach to end-of-life care. She focuses on under-served groups such as those with motor neurone disease (MND) and dementia, terminally ill people who live alone and family carers.
As Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Western Australia, Samar is known as an international leader in the advocacy of public health approaches to palliative care.
Her work has strengthened the Compassionate Communities movement that mobilises and equips people to better support those facing death and bereavement.
As co-founder and chair of the South West Compassionate Communities Network, Samar also volunteers in roles including director on the MND Australia Board, president of the MND Association of WA and a board member of Palliative Care WA.
Among numerous awards, 63-year-old Samar received the Medal for Excellence from the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare in 2018 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 from Australia's Prime Minister.
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