2015 ACT Australian of the Year Award Recipients Announced

Posted 3 November 2014 6:19pm

2015 ACT Australian of the Year - Glenn Keys

2015 ACT Senior Australian of the Year - Sandra Mahlberg

2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year - Patrick Mills

2015 ACT Local Hero - Damian De Marco


The Chief Minister of the ACT, Ms Katy Gallagher MLA, has announced the 2015 ACT Australian of the Year Award recipients at a ceremony at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra this evening.

Glenn Keys has been named 2015 ACT Australian of the Year for his work as a business and philanthropic leader.

A leader in both business and philanthropy, Glenn Keys believes in giving back.  A former Australian Defence Force test flight engineer, as managing director of global healthcare provider, Aspen Medical, Glenn puts corporate social responsibility at the heart of his business.  The company has its own foundation which uses a percentage of its profits to tackle major Australian health issues, particularly in Indigenous communities. 

The parent of a child with an intellectual disability, Glenn is passionate about helping people with a disability to reach their potential.  As the Chairman of Special Olympics ACT, Glenn has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for athletes with a disability to develop physical fitness, gain skills and forge friendships. 

An inaugural board member of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Glenn’s latest project is Project Independence, a housing initiative in partnership with the ACT Government that offers home ownership options for people with disability. Glenn is an active member of the Canberra Business Chamber and inspires other business leaders to incorporate community service into their busy professional lives. 

Humanitarian and volunteer Sandra Mahlberg has been awarded 2015 ACT Senior Australian of the Year.

Opening her heart and her home to sick children, 62 year old Sandra Mahlberg is the ACT coordinator for Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC), a volunteer organisation that helps children from developing countries afflicted with severe medical conditions.  Sandra sources funding for accommodation and transport to and from Australia, draws on her wide network to seek voluntary contributions from surgeons and hospitals and coordinates the post-operative, pastoral care and selection of children who need corrective surgery for life-threatening but treatable conditions. 

She works tirelessly through the National ROMAC committee and with the ACT Government to bring children to Australia from countries including China, Timor-Leste, Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands – and she does this while maintaining her fulltime nursing job at Calvary Hospital. 

Since 2006, Sandra has hosted 15 children and their guardians in her home, supporting them for up to a year at a time.  Putting service before self, Sandra’s commitment to humanitarian endeavour is changing lives and is reinforcing Australia’s reputation as a caring society.

The 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year is 26 year old Patrick Mills.

The first Indigenous Australian to win the most sought-after award in global basketball, Patrick Mills is at the top of his game. After winning an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, statistics in the Wall Street Journal revealed Patrick as the hardest working and fastest player in the NBA clocking up more distance per minute than any other player in the league.

In 2012, Patrick led the scoring at the London Olympics, averaging 21.2 points per game with Australia’s national basketball team, the Boomers. It's a long way from the Canberra basketball stadium where Patrick cut his teeth and even further from the homemade basketball ring grandfather Sammy made on Thursday Island when Patrick was just two years old.

While his basketball career has been spectacular, Patrick is most proud of the awareness he has created about his Indigenous heritage and is currently working on a documentary that showcases the culture and traditions of his people.

Damian De Marco has been awarded 2015 ACT Local Hero for her work as a child sexual assault campaigner.

A symbol of courage for child abuse victims and their families, Damian De Marco spent four decades fighting to prevent other children from sharing his experience.  After he was sexually assaulted by a Marist Brother in the 1980s, Damian battled for the perpetrator to be removed from the education system and brought to justice.  Rejecting anonymity and risking his own reputation, Damian then began to speak out publically to expose the systemic failure that protected paedophiles at the expense of children. 

In 2014, Damian bravely appeared before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; his evidence uncovered the inadequate responses of both the school and law enforcement authorities, and contributed to a new understanding of the grave errors of the past and how to prevent them from occurring in the future.  With great strength of character and resilience, Damian stood tall for others to right the dreadful wrongs of the past. 

The ACT Award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national Awards to be announced on 25 January 2015 in Canberra. 

National Australia Day Council CEO, Jeremy Lasek, said the ACT Award recipients are four amazing individuals and truly great Australians.

“We can all be very proud of the ACT Award recipients who are all doing important work for the greater good in both our own and international communities,” said Mr Lasek.

The Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards.

“For more than 35 years, we have been pleased to support the Australian of the Year Awards - a national program that recognises outstanding individuals. Each year we are inspired by the calibre of recipients from each State and Territory. We congratulate this year’s recipients from ACT and wish them all the best for the national Awards,” said Commonwealth Bank CEO, Ian Narev.

For more information on the 2015 ACT Australian of the Year Awards recipients visit the Honour Roll


2015 National Nominee Local Hero

Damian De Marco

Child sexual assault campaigner

A symbol of courage for child abuse victims and their families, Damian De Marco spent four decades fighting to prevent other children from sharing his experience.  After he was sexually assaulted by ...

Where are they now? →

2015 National Nominee Australian of the Year

Glenn Keys

Business and philanthropic leader

A leader in both business and philanthropy, Glenn Keys believes in giving back.  A former Australian Defence Force test flight engineer, as managing director of global healthcare provider, Aspen Medi...

Where are they now? →

2015 National Nominee Young Australian of the Year

Patrick Mills

Basketball superstar

The first Indigenous Australian to win the most sought-after award in global basketball, Patrick Mills is at the top of his game.  After winning an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014...

Where are they now? →

2015 National Nominee Senior Australian of the Year

Sandra Mahlberg

Humanitarian and volunteer

Opening her heart and her home to sick children, Sandra Mahlberg is the ACT coordinator for Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC), a volunteer organisation that helps children from developin...