Alumni News Articles

NT Australian of the Year 2014 Recipients Announced!

7 November 2013

Northern Territory Australian of the Year 2014 - Shellie Morris

Northern Territory Senior Australian of the Year 2014 - Klaus Helms

Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year 2014 - Emily Osborne

Northern Territory Local Hero 2014 - Nicole Gallas

Her Honour the Honourable Sally Thomas AM and the Honourable Peter Styles MLA has congratulated the 2014 Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award recipients at a special awards ceremony at Darwin Convention Centre this evening. 

Singer-songwriter, Shellie Morris, has been named the Northern Territory Australian of the Year 2014. One of Australia’s finest Indigenous singer-songwriters, Shellie Morris has performed everywhere from the world’s concert stages to campfires in Australia’s remotest communities. 

A feature singer with the Black Arm Band, 48 year old Shellie was adopted by a non-Indigenous family and grew up in Sydney.  Fifteen years ago, Shellie made the trek back to the Northern Territory to reconnect with her roots and the Yanyuwa people of the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

Since then, Shellie has worked in more than 80 remote and urban Indigenous communities, delivering music workshops and as an ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation. 

Her music crosses boundaries and musical borders with ease – she has performed with singers from Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil to John Cale, Sinead O’Connor and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. 

The Alawa resident uses music as a healing and sharing experience and her most recent album, Together We Are Strong, is the first by an Indigenous contemporary female to be sung entirely in the Indigenous languages of the Gulf Country.

Indigenous community advocate, Klaus Helms, has been awarded Northern Territory Senior Australian of the Year 2014.

A Nhulunbuy veteran, 61 year old Klaus Helms has worked in many worlds.  A former driller, corporate adviser and government business manager, Klaus has devoted the best part of 40 years to improving the lives of the local Indigenous community and promoting reconciliation. 

At just 17, Klaus arrived on the Nhulunbuy airstrip for the first time, was given a bag of bauxite, a tent and told "you’re camping there’.”  He worked for all the mining players in the region and when others flew out to recharge their batteries, Klaus would go bush. 

Klaus established strong relationships with the Yolngu people, and today is the Chief Executive Officer of the Gumatj Corporation, which is focused on developing sustainable industry through harnessing the natural resources of North East Arnhem Land. 

The Gunyangara resident has a long-term vision to secure the community’s economic independence, and has been instrumental in establishing projects such as cattle farming, meat production, timber mills and fishing operations to reduce the cost of living in the communities.

Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year 2014, is 19 year old Nhulunbuy resident, Emily Osborne for her work as a youth advocate. 

A passionate advocate for young carers, Emily Osborne understands the responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of young carers.  She looks after her older sister Kaia, who has suffered from Rett Syndrome since she was 18 months old. 

Emily says that Kaia has taught her to cherish every moment, and has motivated her to be the best person she can be.

In 2011, Emily was chosen to represent Nhulunbuy on the Chief Minister’s Round Table.  The following year, she became Round Table Chair and took on the Youth Member’s position on Regional Development Australia’s NT board – all this while being school captain at Nhulunbuy High School. 

In 2012, Emily led a community-based project focused on youth suicide in the Northern Territory, which culminated in a community Suicide Prevention Day in her town.  Emily is dedicated to championing a number of important youth issues in the NT and has touched many people in the community.

Nicole Gallas has been awarded Northern Territory Local Hero 2014 for her tireless work as a mental health advocate.

After many years of suffering from depression, 43 year old Nicole decided to bring mental health out from the shadows. 

In 2013, Nicky embarked on an extraordinary journey, which she named No More Excuses, walking the whopping 1,600 kilometres from Alice Springs to Adelaide to raise money and awareness for rural mental health. 

Nicky chose to walk alone to demonstrate that depression is a solo disease and that, while family and friends can offer encouragement, ultimately it is up to the person suffering the illness to make a positive change in their life.  Over 48 days, Nicky raised more than $10,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

Each day, Nicky donned her ‘healing pants’, on which were written the names of more than 60 people who lost their battles with mental illness, and stepped out to demonstrate the strength required of people suffering from depression. 

The Alice Springs resident’s courage and commitment has inspired thousands of people to overcome their own obstacles in life.

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The Northern Territory award recipients will join recipients from the other States and the ACT as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2014 in Canberra.

The Hon Adam Giles MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory said “I would like to extend my congratulations to this year’s four remarkable recipients. I know that all Territorians will join me in thanking each of them for their contributions. Their incredible stories represent all that is great about the Territory and Australia. I am very proud that they will now represent the Northern Territory in the national awards.”

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the Northern Territory award recipients demonstrate the variety of talents and passions of the residents of the top end.

“The Northern Territory award recipients are great Australians achieving remarkable things in the arts and community work,” said Mr Lasek.  “Their dedication to each of their causes is something that we can all draw inspiration from.”

The Hon Dr Daryl Manzie HC, Chair of the Australia Day Council NT said "We should all share a sense of pride in the contribution by all the Northern Territory award recipients, to making Australia a better place. Their personal commitments are making changes to the lives of all Australians"

The Commonwealth Bank has been the major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. Chief Executive Officer Ian Narev congratulated the Northern Territory award recipients.

“The Commonwealth Bank is proud to recognise your outstanding achievements. Congratulations on becoming national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards - you should all be very proud,” said Mr Narev. 

“We are pleased to be able to celebrate and acknowledge your ongoing dedication to building a better country for us all.”

Media contact: Zannie Abbott 0418 274 291 or Nicole Browne on 0414 673 762


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