Alumni News Articles


17 November 2017

 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year – Scott Rankin

 2018 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year – Tony Scherer

2018 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year – Dr Jessica Manuela

2018 Tasmanian Local Hero – Judi Adams


The 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced this afternoon at a ceremony hosted by The Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC and Mr Richard Warner at Government House in Hobart.

The Tasmanian Award recipients will join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around the country. These recipients will represent their state at the national Awards on 25 January 2018 in Canberra, where the four Australians of the Year will be announced.

The 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year is theatre director, writer and arts charity leader Scott Rankin of Boat Harbour.Motivated by the closure of the Burnie Paper Mill 25 years ago, Scott Rankin embarked on an innovative experiment to explore new ways of dealing with disadvantage. The theatre director and playwright established Big hART, a charity which uses the arts to bring about social justice.

As the company’s CEO and Creative Director, Scott leads a passionate team to tell Australia’s most invisible stories, working with over 50 communities in regional, remote and urban Australia. No tale is too tough to tell: domestic violence, incarceration, addiction, homelessness, or intergenerational injustice faced by Indigenous Australians. A multi award-winning writer and director in his own right, Scott’s works have featured many times in major international and national arts festivals with films screening on ABC, SBS and at film festivals around the country. His acclaimed production Namatjira, for example, celebrates the legacy of one of Australia's best loved artists. But Big hART remains Scott’s greatest legacy and selfless contribution to the arts and society.

The 2018 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year is 75 year old organic farmer, Tony Scherer from Coal Valley. A pioneer of the organic farming movement, Tony Scherer has promoted sustainable farming methods for more than 50 years. Tony started organic farming in California in the 1970s. Moving to Australia in 1990, Tony introduced several organic methods, including the first machinery to convert Sudan grass into organic compost. By passing his knowledge to other organic farmers, he’s helped the agricultural industry cut millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while growing healthy food. A founding owner of Frogmore Creek Wines, Tony demonstrated that organic viticulture was possible and profitable, with the winery’s Pinot Noir winning multiple awards. Tony has since led a groundswell of interest in sustainable and low pesticide grape production. In 2012, he co-founded the not-for-profit Sprout Tasmania to expand organic and sustainable farming. And as the president of the Pinot Noir Forum, Tony has helped to build Tasmania’s reputation as a world leader in this wine style, creating jobs and supporting a new industry.

The 2018 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year is 29 year old dentist Dr Jessica Manuela from Blackmans Bay. Dental surgeon, Dr Jessica Manuela is determined to improve oral health in Tasmanian Indigenous communities. As an Indigenous Tasmanian, Jess established her first dental practice three years ago and a second one in 2017. She now has more than 4,000 active patients, but also finds time to speak with school students about oral hygiene and to run community information evenings. Together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service Tasmania and the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation, Jess has established a culturally-appropriate program that helps Indigenous Tasmanians access dental care to improve their health and wellbeing. She was the chairperson for Oral Health Promotion on the Tasmanian Dental Council and has been involved with policy making and regulating the dental profession. She is also lobbying to save important schemes such as the Medicare Child Dental Benefit Scheme. Jess is passionate about educating her patients so that they have the skills to look after their health for a lifetime.

The 2018 Tasmanian Local Hero is breast cancer fundraiser Judi Adams of Moonah. Fourteen years ago, Judi Adams decided to make a difference to breast cancer research. Taking on the voluntary role of chair of the Hobart committee of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Judi began rallying support, engaging sponsors and hosting events. Since then, she’s staged breakfasts, luncheons and gala dinners, sporting events and car shows, raising a staggering $400,000 profit – with every cent going to breast cancer research. Some of Judi’s events, such as the Lumin8 Hobart soirées, Pink Ribbon luncheons, the Think Pink Cup, and the Shannons Take Your Tops Off for Breast Cancer Research car displays have proven so popular that they are now enduring annual events. In 2017, Judi tackled Spain's Camino de Santiago, raising another $15,000 for her chosen charity. Judi’s committee has no operating budget, and each event represents many hours of voluntary labour. With passion and purpose, Judi has fostered camaraderie, created an inspiring events program, brought the community together and attracted interstate visitors while raising much-needed funds for breast cancer research. 

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said the Tasmanian Award recipients were inspirational.

"The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society," said Ms Barbour.

“The Tasmanian Award recipients share a passion to make a difference, using their personal skills and talents to raise awareness, push boundaries, and help others. They are all creating new futures through their contributions, and their stories serve to inspire us all.” 

Commonwealth Bank has proudly sponsored the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, said it was an honour to acknowledge the Tasmanian Award recipients. 

“We would like to congratulate Scott Rankin, Tony Scherer, Dr Jessica Manuela and Judi Adams on becoming State and Territory recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Narev.

“All recipients should feel extremely proud of their achievements. We wish them all the very best in the national Awards on 25 January.”

For more information on the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards recipients visit the Honour Roll

More information on State and Territory selection panel members can be found here

Photos from the Awards announcement event can be downloaded as available from

Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or 

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