South Australia's Australian of the Year Awards recipients 2013 announced

Posted 13 November 2012 5:10pm

South Australia’s Australian of the Year 2013 – Sonya Ryan 

South Australia’s Senior Australian of the Year 2013 – Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM

South Australia’s Young Australian of the Year 2013 – Vanessa Picker 

South Australia’s Local Hero 2013 – Anna Kemp

Cyber safety campaigner Sonya Ryan has been named South Australia’s Australian of the Year in recognition of her work with the Carly Ryan Foundation.

For the past five years, Sonya Ryan has dedicated herself to the promotion of internet safety through the Carly Ryan Foundation established in memory of her daughter Carly.

Befriended by an internet predator posing as a teenage boy, Carly was groomed by the middle-aged man who convinced her to meet him. Tragically that meeting in February 2007 resulted in her brutal murder.

Filled with grief and despair, Sonya did not turn inwards, instead reaching out to others to ensure that similar tragedies could be avoided.

Sonya is now a frequent visitor to schools where she tells Carly’s story to warn of the potential dangers inherent through internet interaction.

She alerts children and their parents to the multiple identities used by cyber paedophiles to groom children and win their confidence and trust.

Sonya says she will continue her campaign to have online safety made a compulsory component of the national education curriculum.

Through the Carly Ryan Foundation, Sonya also provides counselling for victims of internet crime and provides police with information to help prevent crimes against children.

South Australia’s Senior Australian of the Year 2013 is Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM - Australia’s pre- eminent palliative care specialist who is also a passionate advocate for the cause of peace.

Professor Maddocks has been a key leader for many years in both the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War – an organisation which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in 1985.

After promoting the development of palliative care in southern Adelaide for some years, Professor Maddocks was appointed Professor of Palliative Care at Flinders University in 1988, pursuing a rigorous teaching and research program as well as caring for his patients.

He was elected first President of the Australian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and first President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Palliative Medicine.

Recognised internationally for his work in palliative care, tropical and preventative medicine, Professor Maddocks’ texts are used world-wide.

His awards over the years include the inaugural Bethlehem Griffiths Medal for research in palliative care.

Now Emeritus Professor at Flinders University, he continues to supervise postgraduate students and care for the terminally ill.

The South Australia’s Young Australian of the Year 2013 is social campaigner, 21 year old, Vanessa Picker.

Young entrepreneur and university student Vanessa Picker already has many innovative social and not for profit projects to her name.In March 2012 she led her team to victory in Harvard University Alumni’s 2012 Social Venture Challenge with a project called Play It Forward. The project harnesses sport to build confidence and self esteem in young people and also encourages people to donate pre-loved sporting gear to support local communities.

As well, Vanessa’s idea for a website to make gyms more accessible and affordable was commended at a national business competition. She is also working on a social enterprise called Blue Kangaroo to help people find and do business with ethical and socially responsible businesses.

Vanessa was recently selected to facilitate the 23rd International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague which brought together young leaders from nine countries.

In July 2012 she was one of 50 students selected from around the world to participate in an international summit on global issues.

Vanessa also excels in cricket at a state level and is training with the South Australian Women’s team with the aim of winning a place on the National Cricket League team.

Anna Kemp was awarded South Australia’s Local Hero 2013 for her work over the past 33 years to improve the lives of women in prison and their return to society.

In 2006 Anna established the Seeds of Affinity project bringing together a core group of women who have had direct experience with the South Australian criminal justice system. The approach is simple but effective – it offers women leaving prison a safe place to accomplish small tasks to rebuild self esteem and confidence.

Under Anna’s guidance, small achievements like making soap and jam have become money making enterprises and a vegetable garden has been established to supply the group’s weekly shared lunches.

So far Seeds of Affinity has helped more than 100 women adjust to returning to community life. Some move on after a few weeks, others stay for years and two are now mentors and aspiring role models to new members.

Anna’s contribution is reflected in the words of those she helps: ‘Anna’s compassion and unconditional support has inspired me to be a better person in my life.’

The South Australian award recipients will join recipients from the other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards announced on 25 January 2013 in Canberra.

Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, Tam Johnston, said the South Australian award recipients are amazing Australians that we can all be proud of.

“The South Australian award recipients are all doing remarkable work to improve the lives of Australians and we are immensely proud of all their achievements," said Ms Johnston.

The Commonwealth Bank has been the Major Sponsor of the Australian of the Year Awards for more than 30 years. Chief Executive Officer Ian Narev congratulated the South Australian award recipients.

“The Commonwealth Bank is proud to acknowledge the South Australian award recipients. You are now national finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards and should be very proud of your achievement.

“While you have each been inspiring in your own way, you all share one common quality – you continue to selflessly improve the lives of others. Congratulations to you all and enjoy your time in Canberra in January” said Mr Narev.