South Australia's Australian of the Year award recipients announced

Posted 22 November 2007 12:00am

A filmmaker who brings international productions to his home state; a scientist dedicated to making science more accessible; a young violinist conquering the world and volunteering to take music to remote communities at home; and a woman who is shaping the community in her home town of Bowhill were tonight named as the South Australian recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards 2008.

The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AO CSC RANR, presented the recipients with their awards in a ceremony at Government House this evening and congratulated all finalists on having earned the thanks and respect of their nominees and the community.

The South Australian award recipients are:

South Australia 's Australian of the Year 2008 is filmmaker Scott Hicks.

Scott Hicks was propelled to the forefront of international filmmakers in 1996 following the release of his film Shine and its worldwide box office success and honours, including seven Academy Award nominations. Scott had come a long way from his studies at Flinders University and a job as a runner on the set of Storm Boy in 1976. He has gone from strength to strength, with credits for such movies as Hearts in Atlantis, Snow Falling on Cedars and the recently released No Reservations. He's currently back home filming The Boys are Back in Town. Between films, Scott directs high-end commercials including the only advertisement ever to be inducted into the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. Scott is passionate about South Australia and whenever possible brings elements of his filming projects here.

South Australia 's Senior Australian of the Year 2008 is science communicator Professor Rob Morrison OAM.

Professor Rob Morrison's work as a scientist, writer and media personality has added profoundly to the promotion and understanding of science in Australia. For 25 years he has been a familiar face of science on television, as presenter of The Curiosity Show for eighteen years and appearances on The New Inventors, Nexus, Science Magazine, and Radio National's Ockham's Razor. He has written thirty books on science and natural history and under his stewardship the SA Royal Zoological Society has trebled its membership in six years. Rob recently helped establish SciWorld, a new science centre in Adelaide which runs exciting education programs and developed six regional science fairs and shows, including Adelaide's National Science Week. He is recognised nationally and internationally as an outstanding science communicator and in the citation for his 2007 Australian Museum Eureka Prize Rob is described as a national treasure and a well-loved ambassador for science.

South Australia 's Young Australian of the Year 2008 is musician Niki Vasilakis.

Twenty-five year old Niki Vasilakis is widely regarded as one of Australia's most exciting musicians and one of the world's up and coming violinists. She has already played her solo violin concertos with some of the finest orchestras in the world. Her regular media appearances and her busy international schedule of concerts have made her a familiar face with a wide public. Niki took up violin at age four because her parents suspected she had ADHD, using her daily practice to temper her over-energetic behaviour. She became so keen that she often wagged school to practise. Her career has taken her to Europe, China, and New Zealand, the Rockefeller Centre in New York, Washington Cathedral, and the Sydney Opera House. Niki is also lead violinist with Australia's premier piano trio, TrioZ, and regularly volunteers her time running school holiday programs in remote Indigenous communities.

South Australia 's Local Hero of the Year 2008 is rural community builder Samantha Krollig.

Samantha Krollig lives in the small South Australian rural community of Bowhill. She understands the importance of teamwork in sharing the workload and strengthening the social and economic capacity of her community, especially when times are tough. Samantha epitomises the strength of character of Australia's many remote rural communities. On seeing the need for support for a local mothers and babies group to provide support and encouragement, Samantha formed the Bowhill Kids & Coffee Parent Group, which offered a welcoming forum to openly discuss concerns, find support and friendship, and learn new mothercraft skills. When the tennis clubroom burnt down three years ago, Samantha led the way in getting it rebuilt as a community hall costing $250,000. It's nearly finished - and debt free due to her fundraising skills. Because of the friendships forged through Samantha's efforts, there are many who no longer face isolation and loneliness.

"South Australians can be very proud of their award recipients, all of whom have great passions which have not only brought them great achievements, but which they have used to benefit others," said Tam Johnston, National Manager of the Australian of the Year Awards.

"Like all our award recipients this year, they have been truly inspirational in their own fields and in the broader community."

All South Australian award recipients now become national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards to be announced in Canberra on 25 January 2008.