Nominees for the 2023 ACT Australian of the Year Awards Announced



Nominees for the 2023 ACT Australian of the Year Awards include a man launching space rockets from Australia, a hip-hop musician, an insect farmer, human rights advocates and a woman whose sewing is changing lives.

They are just some of the 16 people in the running to be named the ACT Australian of the Year, ACT Senior Australian of the Year, ACT Young Australian of the Year and ACT Local Hero.

The 2023 ACT award nominees are:

ACT Australian of the Year

Mikaela Jade – Founder, Indigital (Phillip)

Scott Wallis – Founder, Equatorial Launch Australia, Arnhem Space Centre (Garran)

Olympia Yarger – Insect farming pioneer and founder, Goterra (Canberra)

Heidi Yates – Human rights lawyer and community advocate (Canberra)


ACT Senior Australian of the Year

Mohammed Ali – Founder and president, HelpingACT (Franklin)

Professor Tom Calma AO – Human rights and social justice advocate, consultant and volunteer (Chapman)

Robert Cook – ACT Children’s Court Magistrate and Warrumbul Court Magistrate (Canberra)

Brian Triglone OAM – Founder and conductor, Alchemy Chorus (Torrens)


ACT Young Australian of the Year

Bryce Cronin – Engineer, designer and founder, Access3D (Belconnen)

Kofi Owusu-Ansah – Award-winning performer and songwriter (Canberra)

Camille Schloeffel – Founder, The Stop Campaign (Ainslie)

Hillary Swann – Teacher and founder, EMPOWER (Rivett)


ACT Local Hero

Nazmul Hasan – Multicultural community champion (Holder)

Gaurav Malhotra – Founder, Garry Malhotra - Ken Behrens Helping Hands (Denman Prospect)

Carol Mead – Founder, Sew For Change (Gordon)

Dr Shamaruh Mirza – Scientist and co-founder, SiTara’s Story (Waramanga)


The ACT nominees are among 130 people being recognised across all states and territories.

The four award recipients from the ACT will be announced on Wednesday 9 November 2022 in a ceremony at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, which will also be available to watch via ABC iView from 12:15pm (local ACT time).

They will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the national awards announcement on 25 January 2023 in Canberra. 

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the nominees on their recognition.

“The 2023 ACT nominees remind us what an extraordinarily active community the territory is home to,” said Karlie.

“Whether it’s world-leading breakthroughs, local community development or leadership on matters of social significance, the ACT nominees are making a mark.”

20 Years Of Local Heroes

The 2023 Awards also mark 20 years of the Local Hero category.

Introduced in 2003, the award acknowledges extraordinary contributions made by Australians in their local community.

There is yet to be an ACT person awarded Australia’s Local Hero…. could 2023 be the year?


Nominee bios can be viewed in the pdf attached or on

Nominee photos can be downloaded from this link (note all photos provided by nominees):

Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or