Alumni News Articles

ACT Australian of the Year Awards recipients announced

15 November 2007

ACT Australian of the Year finalists 2008An advocate for social justice and disadvantaged people; the woman who created Australia's Breast Cancer Awareness Day; an indigenous health care leader; and a young man with a vision for a compassionate and tolerant society were tonight named as the ACT recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards 2008.

The Chief Minister of the ACT, Mr Jon Stanhope MLA, presented the recipients with their awards in a ceremony this evening and thanked all finalists for their contribution to their fellow Australians.

The ACT award recipients are:

The ACT Australian of the Year 2008 is social justice advocate Lin Hatfield Dodds.

As President of the Australian Council of Social Services, Director of UnitingCare Australia, and Chair of the Australian Capital Territory Community Inclusions Board, Lin works tirelessly for low income and disadvantaged Australians. Her advocacy is effective because she is so well informed, respectful, and professional. As a working mother, Lin is a role model and inspiration for working women and demonstrates the benefits of a sensible work/life balance. Lin's contribution was recognised by an International Women's Day Award in 2002 and in 2003 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study anti-poverty strategies and welfare delivery overseas.

The ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2008 is breast cancer awareness pioneer Professor Linda Reaby AM.

From when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990, Linda dedicated her professional career to raising public awareness of the condition and funding for breast cancer research. She wrote the proposal for Australia's Breast Cancer Day and lobbied extensively for political support for what has become a major national annual event since 1994. Linda also has a remarkable record of securing competitive grants - more than $8 million, including one for making higher degrees more accessible to working nurses. As a breast cancer survivor, nurse educator, and academic, Linda developed a decision-making model for health professionals to ascertain whether women are making informed decisions about their treatment alternatives. Linda has published extensively in international scientific journals and presented papers at national and international conferences.

The ACT Young Australian of the Year 2008 is high achiever Xian Zhi Soon.

Twenty-one year old Xian Zhi Soon is passionate about tackling issues affecting young people and being a catalyst for positive change. His community service led to his being awarded a scholarship for three consecutive years and he was recognised in 2003 for his exceptional achievements as one of NSW's most outstanding students. Zhi was a member of the National Youth Roundtable in 2003 and in 2005 became the youngest member ever appointed to the NSW Board of Studies. Since moving to Canberra to complete his studies he has become co-founder of the Ashtyn Institute, a think-tank providing a forum for young people to engage in the public policy debate.

The ACT Local Hero 2008 is indigenous health practitioner Dr Peter Sharp.

Dr Sharp is Medical Director of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service which was established in 1988 to provide a culturally safe and holistic health service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding areas. He is their longest serving staff member. At first he travelled from Sydney every weekend to run a clinic and then took on home visits. He now runs clinics at local and regional correctional facilities and at Narrabundah Primary School. Peter also works with older people affected by alcohol and substance abuse and trains other medical professionals in Aboriginal health. Peter has a high level of understanding of the complex health, social, emotional, and cultural needs of his patients. In return he is held in high esteem by the local Indigenous community.

"The ACT should be very proud of these community members, who are making a real impact in the lives of others," said Tam Johnston, National Manager of the Australian of the Year Awards.

"Like all our award recipients this year, they have been truly inspirational in their own fields and in the broader community."

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