Posted 22 November 2017 2:01pm

2018 Western Australia Australian of the Year – Dr Tracy Westerman

2018 Western Australia Senior Australian of the Year – Kathleen Mazzella OAM

2018 Western Australia Young Australian of the Year – Samantha Kerr

2018 Western Australia Local Hero – Cr Peter Lyndon-James

The 2018 Western Australia Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced this evening at a ceremony hosted by The Governor of Western Australia, Her Excellency The Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC at Government House Ballroom in Perth.

Her Excellency said she was inspired by the stories of courage, advocacy, leadership and determination from all of the nominees and was very proud of the four Award recipients.

The Western Australia 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 Western Australia Australian of the Year is psychologist Dr Tracy Westerman of Perth.

A childhood yearning to be a psychologist was sorely tested when Njamal woman, Dr Tracy Westerman, left her home in the Pilbara to attend university in Perth where she struggled to reconcile mainstream psychology with Aboriginal culture. Tracy’s PhD research resulted in the development of several unique psychological tests to identify Aboriginal people at risk of suicide and mental health issues. In 1998, she founded Indigenous Psychological Services solely to address the high rates of mental illness among Aboriginal people in the absence of government funding. Now an internationally-recognised leader, Tracy has trained 22,000-plus clinicians in culturally-appropriate psychological approaches and delivered her suicide intervention programs into remote Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. She has been an expert witness at numerous parliamentary inquiries and her Aboriginal suicide prevention strategies have been emulated in Canada. A trailblazer, Tracy has spent over two decades working to reduce the burden of mental illness in Aboriginal people and ensure minimum standards of cultural competence in her profession.

The 2018 Western Australia Senior Australian of the Year is women’s health champion, 66 year old Kathleen Mazzella OAM of Perth. Facing a radical gynaecological cancer diagnosis at the age of 39, Kathleen Mazzella was convinced she was alone. In her search to find someone else facing the same experience, Kath placed an ad in Woman’s Day, receiving 38 responses from women all over Australia who felt the same sense of isolation and embarrassment. Determined to connect and empower other women, and to reduce the stigma and squeamishness around women’s health, Kath established the Perth-based Gynaecological Awareness Information Network. Since then, Kath has become a voice for the millions of Australian women managing polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, sexually transmitted diseases, hysterectomies and more. At the core of her work is a straight-talking message: embarrassment around gynaecological issues risks lives. Kath breaks down the social stigma by sharing her journey and challenges, and promoting a positive preventative message. Twenty-two years after her initial diagnosis, Kath has not only survived, but thrived and dedicated her life to ensuring no other woman suffers in silence.

The 2018 Western Australia Young Australian of the Year is 24 year old footballer Samantha Kerr of Fremantle.  When her dream of playing for the West Coast Eagles was shot down because she was the wrong gender, Samantha Kerr switched to another football code – soccer. By the time she was 15, Sam was representing Australia in the Matildas. Now, aged 24, Sam has held contracts with Sydney FC, Perth Glory and is in her fifth season in America's National Women's Soccer League, recently becoming its all-time leading goal scorer. In 2017, she was named a finalist for FIFA Female Player of the Year. Arguably the best women's soccer player in the world, Sam is an engaging ambassador for all women's sport. Her love for the game and her country is infectious. While she celebrates her prolific goal-scoring ability with a trademark backflip, Sam is a well-grounded athlete who inspires young and old with her athletic prowess and sportsmanship. Sam’s star power packs out arenas around the world, and encourages young women everywhere to chase their dreams.

The 2018 Western Australia Local Hero is Henley Brook addiction treatment specialist Cr Peter Lyndon-James.  After struggling with addiction for most of his life Peter Lyndon-James understands how hard it is to break free. Coming from a broken home, Peter was in and out of prisons from the age of nine, and addicted to drugs for 26 years. In 2001, this one-time career criminal left gaol for the last time, studied theology and spent five years as a volunteer chaplain at Acacia Prison. In 2012, he opened Shalom House in Perth’s Swan Valley, a 140-bed facility he calls “the strictest rehab in Australia”. Peter’s 100 per cent self-funded program helps up to 140 men struggling with addictions. Wearing his hard-knock heart on his sleeve, Peter works intensively with program residents to help them face their demons, identify past failures and establish future goals. His system is working, and today he leads a team of up to 70 staff and volunteers. In 2017, Peter was elected to the City of Swan Council to represent his hometown of Altone Ward.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said the Western Australia Award recipients were inspirational.

"The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society," said Ms Barbour.

“The Western Australia Award recipients have challenged boundaries, shown great leadership, overcome personal challenge and made a difference for others.” 

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 West Australian Award recipients. 

“We would like to congratulate Dr Tracy Westerman, Kathleen Mazzella, Samantha Kerr and Councillor Peter Lyndon-James 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.” 

The Western Australia Awards presentation concludes the State and Territory level Australian of the Year Award announcements.  The list of national finalists for the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards is now complete and all the State and Territory recipients will gather in Canberra for the national Awards announcement on 25 January 2018.

For more information on the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards recipients visit the Honour Roll

More information on State and Territory selection panel members can be found here

Photos from the Awards announcement event downloaded as available from https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3zfB7dMM-RmWHlKbzg5aWR5V2c

Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or nicole@mediaopps.com.au 

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