2018 NORTHERN TERRITORY AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR AWARDS RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED

Posted 15 November 2017 10:55am

 2018 NT Australian of the Year – Dr Bo Reményi

 

2018 NT Senior Australian of the Year – Kathy Guthadjaka

2018 NT Young Australian of the Year – Kevin Kadirgamar

2018 NT Local Hero – Bettina Danganbarr

 

The 2018 Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced and presented with trophies this evening at a ceremony at the Darwin Convention Centre.

The NT Award recipients will join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around the country. These recipients will represent their state at the national Awards on 25 January 2018 in Canberra, where the four Australians of the Year will be announced.

The 2018 NT Australian of the Year is paediatric cardiologist Dr Bo Reményi of Darwin. As a junior doctor working in remote communities, Dr Bo Reményi was tasked with filling out death certificates for children dying of preventable heart disease. Finding this unfair and unacceptable, Bo spent a further six years studying to become one of Australia’s first female paediatric cardiologists. Now an internationally-recognised expert, Bo is tackling the Northern Territory’s rate of Rheumatic Heart Disease, which is currently the highest in the world. Bo’s work in early detection, diagnosis and treatment, as well as her advocacy for the communities she serves, has raised awareness both nationally and internationally, leading to new treatments and better outcomes for patients. She’s currently completing her PhD in the early detection of Rheumatic Heart Disease. Bo’s contribution is even more extraordinary, given she arrived in Australia as a political refugee after fleeing Hungary as a teenager. She started school in Australia without any English language skills, but today Bo’s education, expertise and sheer hard work is saving lives.

The 2018 NT Senior Australian of the Year 69 year old East Arnhem Land educator and pioneering academic Kathy GuthadjakaA senior Elder from Gäwa in north-east Arnhem Land, Kathy Guthadjaka is passionate about preserving traditional knowledge and sharing this with the greater global community. Gotha, as she is known, has worked as an educator since the mid-1960s. Growing up on a mission, Gotha was working as a teaching assistant when her father chose to establish homelands in a remote area of Elcho Island. Gotha was tasked with starting a school. For the first year, Gotha taught without pay under a tarpaulin near the beach. The school was successful, and Gotha created a bilingual educational model that delivered high attendance and graduation rates. Since then, Gotha has pioneered new education methods, represented Australia at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. In her role as a Yolngu researcher at Charles Darwin University, Gotha is leading academic research into language, knowledge, culture and country with widespread practical application.

 The 2018 NT Young Australian of the Year is 28 year old refugee and migration lawyer Kevin Kadirgamar of Muirhead. Leaving his birthplace of Sri Lanka to escape civil conflict in his teens gave Kevin Kadirgamar a deep appreciation of the suffering experienced by many, and a steely determination to be a voice of the vulnerable. As a law student, Kevin co-founded Multicultural Youth NT, a youth-led organisation that promotes harmony and empowers young people to implement change in their own communities. Now 28, Kevin is a lawyer championing the rights of migrants and refugees. He's been recognised for his outstanding pro bono work on high-profile cases, fighting for the freedom of children and young people who were held in indefinite immigration detention. A former board member of many youth justice and human rights groups, Kevin mentors students and junior solicitors through Charles Darwin University, provides free migration advice every month and is the President of the Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory. Kevin’s indefatigable efforts demonstrate the important role a lawyer can play in fundamentally changing the lives of others.

The 2018 NT Local Hero is Elcho Island Indigenous youth leader Bettina DanganbarrAn Aboriginal Community Police Officer in the East Arnhem community of Galiwin’ku, Bettina Danganbarr has offered her home as a safe haven to dozens of domestic violence victims. The Yolngu woman is admired throughout her community as a peacemaker. A tireless campaigner for the rights of women, particularly those experiencing family violence, Bettina has championed the establishment of the Galiwin’ku Women’s Space, a community-led response that addresses family violence in a culturally appropriate, Yolngu-led way. Prior to this, Bettina operated a makeshift women’s shelter in her own home, acting as a counsellor and mediator to families and couples while also caring for her three children and two foster children. Bettina’s expertise and knowledge working in two worlds – both the Yolgnu and Balanda, or non-Indigenous – means she can provide culturally-appropriate support and responses to conflict. She trains other police officers to understand Yolgnu culture. Her influence has prevented many crimes, and supported many Yolgnu people as they move forward with their lives.

The Northern Territory Chief Minister, The Hon Michael Gunner, congratulated the recipients.

“Territorians are some of the most selfless people in this country and tonight’s awards have shown us just how remarkable our community members are,” said Mr Gunner.

“Often, it’s those who put others before themselves that don’t get the recognition they deserve - our unsung heroes who go about life unrewarded - which is why I am so pleased to be able to acknowledge all the nominees and recipients for the contributions they make to the Territory, and indeed the rest of the country.

“Your overwhelming passion to lend a hand and help others is not only commendable but truly inspirational and I thank you on behalf of all Territorians.”

Australia Day Council NT Chair, Jeannette Button, said the Northern Territory Australian of the Year Award recipients were truly deserving of this esteemed recognition.

“Tonight’s recipients join an amazing alumni of Territorians who have led by example and inspired others to make a difference locally, nationally and globally. They are willing to stand up for what they believe in, to mentor and to take others on their journey,” said Ms Button. 

“Congratulations on tonight’s honour, I wish each of you every success as you go on to the Australian of the Year Award ceremony in January, we will be proudly supporting you as your stories are presented on the national stage."

Commonwealth Bank has proudly sponsored the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, said it was an honour to acknowledge the Northern Territory Award recipients.

“We would like to congratulate Dr Bo Reményi, Kathy Guthadjaka, Kevin Kadirgamar and Bettina Dnaganbarr on becoming State and Territory recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Narev.

“All recipients should feel extremely proud of their achievements. We wish them all the very best in the national Awards on 25 January.”

For more information on the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards recipients visit the Honour Roll

More information on State and Territory selection panel members can be found here

Photos from the Awards announcement event can be downloaded as available from https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3zfB7dMM-RmWHlKbzg5aWR5V2c

Media contact: Nicole Browne 0414 673 762 or nicole@mediaopps.com.au