2018 VICTORIAN AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED
2018 Victorian Australian of the Year – Samuel Johnson OAM
2018 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year – Professor Paul Zimmet AO
2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year – Georgie Stone
2018 Victoria’s Local Hero – Mat Bowtell
The 2018 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced this evening at a ceremony hosted by Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, and Mr Anthony Howard QC at Government House in Melbourne.
The Victorian Award recipients will join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around the country. These recipients will represent their state at the national Awards on 25 January 2018 in Canberra, where the four Australians of the Year will be announced.
The 2018 Victorian Australian of the Year is actor and fundraiser for cancer research, Samuel Johnson OAM. When his beloved big sister Connie was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Samuel Johnson made the promise of a lifetime. He pledged to ride his unicycle around Australia to remind every woman to be breast aware. From this, Love Your Sister was born. In 2013 and 2014, Samuel travelled 15,465 kilometres, breaking the world record for the longest distance travelled on a unicycle and raising $1.4 million for the Garvan Research Foundation. Love Your Sister has raised more than $7 million for cancer research, including $2.5 million in five-cent coins. A household name on Australian television for many years, Samuel was awarded the Gold Logie in 2017 for his performance as Molly Meldrum. Making his family’s tragedy and pain a public cause, Samuel has vowed to put his acting career on hold until Love Your Sister raises $10 million. While Connie has recently passed away, Samuel has pledged to continue to fight for families and to “kick cancer to the kerb”.
The 2018 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year is 75-year-old scientist and diabetes specialist, Professor Paul Zimmet AO. An international leader in the field of diabetes for 40 years, Professor Paul Zimmet has had a profound impact on the lives of Australians living with diabetes. Paul’s research studies in the 1980s predicted the current global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, and he was instrumental in convincing governments and health organisations of the disease’s social and economic impact. Paul established the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne in 1984, the first institute in Australia to concentrate on diabetes and associated disorders. He has published more than 890 research papers, has been named one of the world's most influential scientific minds, and is ranked in the top 10 diabetes researchers for global impact. The award-winning scientist has mentored many other experts in his field, and has influenced the work of healthcare professionals, diabetes educators, city planners, politicians and policy-makers. Paul’s intellect, knowledge, international profile and passion have harnessed medical, scientific, community and government resources to combat the national and global diabetes epidemic.
The 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year is 17-year-old campaigner for transgender youth, Georgie Stone. When she was 10 years old, Georgie Stone became the youngest person in Australia to be granted permission by a court to take hormone blockers, the first stage of medical treatment for transgender children. Hers was a landmark case in the Family Court of Australia, but one of many battles she’s fought in her 17 years. A brave and visible advocate for trans and gender diverse youth in Australia, Georgie has overcome suicidal thoughts and bullying to blaze a trail for others. Her advocacy work in the media has driven progress in health and medical services, access to safe schooling environments and legal reform. Many organisations, from schools to the NSW Police Force, use her appearances on Four Corners and Australian Story for training and education. With determination and dignity, Georgie has educated everyone around her, from family to federal politicians. And she has shown Australia that trans youth can speak out, tell their stories, demand equality and gain acceptance.
The 2018 Victorian Local Hero is engineer and prosthetic limb innovator, Mat Bowtell. Melbourne-based engineer Mat Bowtell volunteers his spare time and funds to design and make open-source prosthetic devices for those who cannot afford them. During his studies he realised how expensive prosthetics are, especially for families with growing children, so set the goal to close the gap. After spending $5,000 on a 3D printer, scanner and software, he began making open-source prosthetic hands for people around the world. While traditional prosthetics can cost up to $6,000, Mat’s revolutionary ‘kinetic finger’ can be made for under $1. Rather than licence his designs for profit, Mat has made them freely available online. Mat has helped children and adults in Australia and around the world, including one recipient in Japan who could play the piano again after a decade of silence. Mat never set out to seek acclaim or reward for his volunteer work, but wanted to spread love and compassion to those in need by giving back to society.
The Governor of Victoria congratulated all the nominees and recipients, paying tribute to their achievements.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to recognise some of our most outstanding Victorians, and their impressive achievements,” said Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria.
“It’s a privilege to celebrate those who strive to be better, to do better and to make our community a better place. I congratulate and thank all of our Victorian recipients.”
The Honourable Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria also congratulated the nominees and Award recipients.
“I’m humbled by the passion, hard work and commitment shown by our Victorian recipients,” said the Premier.
“Victoria’s greatest strength is our people and tonight we celebrated some truly remarkable Victorians who will do our state proud when they represent us at the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra.
“All of our nominees have gone above and beyond to make our state more forward-thinking, more compassionate and more decent. Thank you for inspiring us all.”
National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said tonight’s event was the first in a series of State and Territory Awards announcements leading up to the national Awards in January.
“Tonight begins an exciting phase in the Australian of the Year Awards program, when we recognise 130 nominees around the country and announce four recipients in each State and Territory,” said Ms Barbour.
“Over the next two months we’ll get to know our State and Territory recipients, hear of their extraordinary contributions and find out who will be in the running for the titles of Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero for 2018.”
Commonwealth Bank has proudly sponsored the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, said it was an honour to acknowledge the Victorian Award recipients.
“We would like to congratulate Samuel Johnson, Professor Paul Zimmet, Georgie Stone and Mat Bowtell on becoming state and territory recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Narev.
“All recipients should feel extremely proud of their achievements. We wish them all the very best in the National Awards on 25 January.”
For more information on the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards nominees visit the Honour Roll.
More information on State and Territory selection panel members can be found here.
Recipient photos can be downloaded from https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B3zfB7dMM-RmZTIyeTdJNlM0T0k as available.
Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or firstname.lastname@example.org