Every year, a small handful of Australians are chosen from the millions of people around the country to be recognised for their efforts in any number of fields.
In 2015, the competition was overflowing with exceptional Australians, and we know there are countless people around the country who do incredible things without even being recognised, as well.
Here are your Aussies of the year for 2015, and a little bit about them!
Australia’s local hero
Queensland local Juliette Wright is a social entrepreneur by trade, but that barely begins to explain her monumental efforts towards helping others. Back in 2009, Juliette created the GIVIT website, which exists purely to help connect society’s most vulnerable with those who are able to help. Through her efforts, the charity has (so far) garnered more than 126,000 items for distribution amongst those who need it most. The website only grew further in 2011 after the state government appointed her website as the official platform for helping others after the devastating floods that turned lives upside down for so many. If all of that wasn’t enough, she has recently started an offshoot site called ‘GIVIT Kids’, where children can offer their own new or pre-loved items to others.
Senior Australian of the Year
Author Jackie French, of New South Wales, is more than just your usual writer. She works largely with children’s books and has done since 1991. Her work has been published in 32 languages, and she has (so far) written 140 books, which are a mixture of literary works and stories for children. She is the national Children’s Laureate and is passionate about helping kids with learning difficulties as she is dyslexic herself. She spends her time travelling around Australia to promote reading and literacy in children. Jackie is also the director of The Wombat Foundation as part of her commitment to local wildlife and the environment.
Junior Australian of the Year
Like the four generations before her, her brother, and many of her extended family, Drisana Levitzke-Gray was born deaf. She works tirelessly as an advocate for deaf persons, working closely with communities in Samoa and Europe, and was the only Australian chosen to take part in the Frontrunners international deaf and youth leadership course in 2012 and 2013. Her message to other deaf and hearing impaired people, and to the world, is that it’s ok to be ‘deaf’, which she proves by being just as capable and active as anyone – if not more so!
Australian of the Year
Victorian Rosie Batty’s story is not an easy one to hear. Her 11-year-old son, Luke, died after a domestic violence assault by his own father. Within hours of his death, Rosie bravely spoke out about domestic violence, bringing the topic to light in Australia in a way that made the whole country stand up and listen. She now spends her time making public appearances and speeches, working with the media and advocating for other victims as she battles to bring about changes in this country’s attitudes and experience with this serious issue. She is inspiring, brave, and hard-working, and undoubtedly deserves this year’s accolade.
We offer our biggest congratulations to the winners and look forward to finding out who wins the honours next year!