Alumni News Articles

Australians of the Year to visit Northern Territory

16 August 2007

The inspirational award recipients will visit Alice Springs, Katherine, Palmerston and Darwin to share insights with everyone from high school students to business operators and motor sport enthusiasts.

Phil, a former national speed car champion, suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident during his last race in April 1993. He now helps people with spinal injuries adjust to their new life and also shares his life-lessons with young L and P plate driving offenders about the consequences of risk taking and crashing. Phil finished third in the 1990 National Speedcar Championship held in Darwin and also competed in Alice Springs speedway races during the 1970s.

Local Hero Shanaka runs a successful, socially responsible restaurant group called 'Lentil As Anything'. The restaurants have no prices on the menu, encouraging customers to pay what they feel the meal is worth. The restaurants also employ disadvantaged people and newly arrived refugees, who Shanaka helps settle into Australian life.

"Shanaka and Phil each have an inspiring outlook on life and I think Territorians will enjoy meeting them during their visit," said Heather Sjoberg, Chairman of the Australia Day Council NT.

During the tour, Phil will meet with spinal injuries patients at Alice Springs and Darwin Hospitals and will also speak at several Rev Heads events for motor sports enthusiasts and young community members. In Alice Springs and Darwin, Shanaka will share lessons learnt about co-operative management through the Lentil As Anything experience and will also meet multicultural community members. Shanaka, who has previously been to Darwin and Alice Springs, says he is looking forward to returning to the Northern Territory.

"I'm looking forward to experiencing the sense of community formed by the character of the land and the fusion of cultures," said Shanaka.

"The Territory has an authenticity which big cities elsewhere struggle to replicate in an ill-directed rat-race."

The award recipients also hope to inspire Territorians to submit nominations for the Australian of the Year Awards 2008 before nominations close on Friday 31 August 2007. The National Australia Day Council, which runs the Australian of the Year Awards program, relies on public nominations to find the Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero.

"Being named Senior Australian of the Year 2007 has been a great honour for me personally and it has made a tremendous difference in helping me raise awareness of people with disabilities and the needs we have across the community," said Phil.

"The Australian of the Year Awards recognise people who make a difference without wanting to be rewarded for it and I encourage every Territorian to nominate someone they find inspiring now.

"Get online or fill out a form now - don't miss the 31 August deadline."

Click here to nominate online now or pick up a nomination form at your local Commonwealth Bank branch or call 1300 655 193 for more information. Nominations close Friday 31 August 2007.