Honour roll

Past Award Finalists and Recipients

Australian of the Year

State Finalist

Date of birth: 3 November 1971
State: New South Wales

State Finalist Australian of the Year 2013

Gemma Sisia

African educator

The school set up in Tanzania by Gemma Sisia provides free, high-quality education to over 1,500 of the poorest Tanzanian children while boarding more than 1,000 students. It also boasts one of the best academic records in the country. Always a 'challenge junkie' according to her parents, 22-year-old Gemma first travelled to Africa to teach mathematics and science.  Realising there was a real need for a school she decided to build it. With a grant of land from her husband Richard’s father she began seeking donations to build the school.  Volunteer teams from Australia constructed the first two school blocks and in 2002 St Jude's (named after the patron saint of hopeless causes) opened with an 18-year-old volunteer teacher from Sydney, three sponsored pupils, and Gemma’s boundless energy. Today it is a great success story and employs 400 local people. But despite the impressive numbers, this is only the beginning for Gemma. Her vision is to expand so she can educate all the desperately poor children she is forced to turn away at the school gates.

Photos