Alumni News Articles

ACT Australian of the Year award recipients announced

13 November 2008

Professor Michael Dodson AM, Reverend Associate Professor Elizabeth MacKinlay AM, Jack Heath, Tim Gavel

7:15PM CANBERRA:  A courageous and humble Aboriginal leader striving for reconciliation in Australia, a selfless spiritual leader, award winning young science fiction author and one of the nation's most highly regarded sports journalists have tonight been named as the ACT recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards 2009.

Chief Minister Of The Australian Capital Territory, Jon Stanhope MLA, presented the recipients with their awards in a ceremony this evening and congratulated all finalists on having earned such a prestigious honour from their community.

The ACT award recipients are:

The ACT Australian of the Year 2009 is Indigenous leader Professor Michael Dodson AM.
Professor Michael Dodson is widely recognised as a proud, courageous and humble Aboriginal leader who has spent his adult life trying to explain to people why and how they can help his people. A Yawuru man from the Broome area, the contribution he has made to improving the lives of indigenous Australians is inestimable. He has pursued justice and reconciliation through a process of education, awareness and inclusive dialogue with all Australians. Mick's official roles tell only a small part of the story of what he does. He has served in a variety of challenging and highly sensitive roles at community level, with governments, the United Nations and in academia. In addition he has always actively mentored, nurtured and promoted young Aboriginal leaders, and encouraged respect between people of all cultures. He has described himself as a 'persistent bugger' and is uncompromising in arguing for justice and good sense. He champions the successes of the Indigenous community but also expects accountability for failures. He doesn't shy away from difficult questions or issues. As Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, Mick's dream is to achieve reconciliation in this country, and a better future for his people. An outstanding Australian, Mick represents integrity, wisdom and compassion.


The ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2009 is Anglican Priest Reverend Associate Professor Elizabeth MacKinlay AM.
Reverend Elizabeth MacKinlay works tirelessly and selflessly in her many community roles, promoting greater understanding of the issues facing older people, in particular their spiritual and emotional needs. In 2007, Reverend MacKinlay was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to nurse education, the Anglican Church, the wider community, and the welfare of aged people, particularly through the establishment of the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies at St Mark's National Theological Centre in Canberra. A researcher and writer, she has presented many papers and workshops on these issues both nationally and internationally. Her book Spiritual Growth and Care in the Fourth Age of Life won the 2006 Australasian Journal on Ageing Book Award. As Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing, she has introduced a seniors employment campaign called Silver Lining Project, successfully campaigned for grandparental leave in the ACT public service, and worked to introduce improvements in the public transport system for ACT seniors. She also organised the 2008 National Conference of the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies which was well attended by representatives of all the major religions in Australia, helping to develop a sense of solidarity between faiths through discussions on the common experience of ageing for all communities.

The ACT Young Australian of the Year 2009 is young adult writer Jack Heath.
Jack Heath wrote his first novel when he was just 13 years old and by 18 he had a publishing contract. He has since published a further two books, one of which was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. As an internationally published author Jack inspires other students interested in writing and generously shares his knowledge with them. He recently toured schools during Book Week and encourages other young people to follow their literary dreams. He believes his own success was partly due to timing. When his first novel was released most fiction for early-to-mid teens was issues based. But Jack wanted to write purely entertaining books that kids his age, particularly boys, would want to read, so he started writing about 'robots and explosions.' The idea first came to him when he was studying the human genome project in his Year 7 science class and he believes it was a success because 'I was a kid when I was writing it so the things I was looking for were the same things many other teenage readers were looking for.' Jack's fourth book is soon to be released, and in the highly competitive world of publishing he offers a positive example for all those young would-be writers.

The ACT Local Hero of the Year 2009 is Sports Commentator Tim Gavel.
Tim Gavel is highly regarded in his role as a sports journalist for Canberra's ABC Radio Grandstand program. Nicknamed 'Tireless Tim' because of his seeming ability to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he received his first break in 1988, when he was asked to call the Raiders/Balmain premiership game - an extremely daunting task given that he had never called a match before. Since then he has commentated countless games, five Olympics and five Commonwealth Games. But it's not just because of his excellence in the sporting arena that Tim is admired. Tim also spends much of his time undertaking community work. He is a Board member of the Children's Physical Activity Foundation, a patron of the Walking School Bus program and an ambassador for the Heart Foundation.  In 2004, Tim and his wife Jenny adopted two orphans from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When Tim found out the siblings had an older sister who was too old to be legally adopted, he immediately pledged financial support - enough money to keep her in school until she was old enough to study at a university in Australia. With his caring nature and endless energy Tim has been described as 'the best you can get' in sports commentating in the ACT and is an inspiration to many.

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