Honour roll

Past Award Finalists and Recipients

Australian of the Year

State Finalist

Date of birth: 9 May 1971
State: Northern Territory

State Finalist Australian of the Year 2014

Jeffrey Lee AM

Environmental custodian

As the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit, Jeffrey Lee could have become one of Australia’s richest men.  Instead, Jeffrey turned his back on a fortune when he decided not to allow mining on his land and fought to have the area World Heritage listed.  Jeffrey, a Kakadu Ranger, is the last surviving member of the Djok clan and the sole traditional owner of land that’s become widely known as Koongarra.  For more than two decades, Jeffrey battled to prevent uranium mining on his traditional land, which is home to sacred burial sites and other special places that Jeffrey feels a sense of responsibility to look after.  In 2013, the land at Koongarra was incorporated into the surrounding World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and permanently protected from uranium mining.  An inspirational Australian, Jeffrey reminds us that “money comes and goes, but the land is always here, it always stays if we look after it and it will look after us.”