25 January 2021
2021 AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS ANNOUNCED
2021 Australian of the Year – Grace Tame (TAS)
2021 Senior Australian of the Year – Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM (NT)
2021 Young Australian of the Year – Isobel Marshall (SA)
2021 Australia’s Local Hero – Rosemary Kariuki (NSW)
9:00pm AEDT, Canberra: A young woman who advocates for survivors of sexual assault, an Aboriginal elder dedicated to cultural independence and education, a social entrepreneur helping women access personal hygiene products and a woman using her own migrant experience to help others in distress are the 2021 Australians of the Year.
The Prime Minister, The Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced the Australian of the Year Award recipients, all of whom are women, at a ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra this evening.
For the first time in the Award program’s 61 year history, a Tasmanian has been named Australian of the Year.
The 2021 Australian of the Year is 26 year old Grace Tame of Hobart, Tasmania. Grace is an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual assault, particularly those who were abused in institutional settings. From age 15, Grace was groomed and raped by her 58 year old maths teacher, who was found guilty and jailed for his crimes. However, under Tasmania’s sexual assault victim gag laws, Grace couldn’t legally speak out about her experience, despite the perpetrator and media being free to do so. Grace applied to the Supreme Court for the right to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor and won. Grace has demonstrated extraordinary courage, using her voice to push for legal reform and raise public awareness about the impacts of sexual violence. She is a regular guest speaker for high-profile events and television programs and uses her media profile to advocate for other vulnerable groups in the community.
The 2021 Senior Australian of the Year is 73 year old Aboriginal activist, educator and artist
Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM of Daly River in the Northern Territory. Miriam-Rose is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu and a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker. In 1975, Miriam-Rose became the Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher. As an art consultant for the Department of Education, she visited schools through the Top End, advocating for the inclusion of visual art as part of every child’s education. Miriam-Rose became the principal of the Catholic school in her home community before being appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council. In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society, driving reconciliation at a grassroots level. Through her professional and creative life, Miriam-Rose has remained dedicated to maintaining the cultural independence of her people and being a spokesperson for the Aboriginal worldview. In recognition of her leadership, she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal and an Honorary PhD in Education from Charles Darwin University.
The 2021 Young Australian of the Year is 22 year old social entrepreneur Isobel Marshall of Adelaide, South Australia. At just 18 years of age, Isobel co-founded TABOO with school friend Eloise Hall, to help women around the world by breaking down stigma around menstruation and providing greater access to hygiene products. Isobel and business partner Eloise crowdfunded $56,000 to launch their range of products in August 2019. TABOO sells high quality, ethically sourced, organic cotton pads and tampons to an Australian market, with 100 per cent of net profits ; going to One Girls – a charity providing education programs for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda. Locally, Isobel and TABOO have partnered with Vinnies Women’s Crisis centre, providing free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia. Recognising period poverty is not just a big city issue, they also support the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council. Isobel is also a full-time student at the University of Adelaide, where she is studying a Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS) and a Bachelor of Surgery.
The 2021 Australia’s Local Hero is 60 year old advocate for migrant and refugee women, Rosemary Kariuki of Oran Park, NSW. Rosemary is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police. She specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress. Fleeing Kenya alone in 1999 to escape family abuse and tribal clashes, her early years in Australia were terribly lonely. Her experience helped Rosemary recognise that isolation is a huge issue for many migrant women. Many aren’t used to going out alone, have no transport and speak little or no English. So Rosemary devised ways to help women leave their house and meet women in similar circumstances. In partnership with the African Women’s Group, she helped start the African Women’s Dinner Dance. Now in its 14th year, more than 400 women attend the annual event. She also started the African Village Market - a program to help migrants and refugees start their own businesses – which ran for four years. Rosemary’s warmth, courage and kindness inspire all who meet her. Her work was the subject of the documentary ‘Rosemary’s Way’.
Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Danielle Roche OAM, congratulated the 2021 Australian of the Year Award recipients.
“Grace, Miriam-Rose, Isobel and Rosemary are all committed to changing attitudes in our society and changing lives,” Ms Roche said.
“They are strong, determined women who are dedicated to breaking down barriers and advocating for people’s rights – particularly the rights of women and children.
“They epitomise the Australian values of respect, tolerance, equality of opportunity and compassion. Because of them, others get a fair go.”
Grace Tame, Isobel Marshall, Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM and Rosemary Kariuki will attend the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra on Australia Day morning, Tuesday 26 January 2021 before returning to their home states.
Nominations for the 2022 Australian of the Year are now open. If there's someone you think should be considered, you can nominate them now at australianoftheyear.org.au.