It’s the Australia Day long weekend, and whilst Australians flock to beaches, parks and parties, the nation also awards those who have made a great contribution during the past year. This year, the esteemed Australian of the Year title has been awarded to Adam Goodes, Aboriginal AFL footballer and social activist.
Goodes runs a foundation which seeks to assist young people to gain access to education and employment. After a racial slur against the Sydney Swans player gained much publicity during 2013, Goodes won recognition for his stance against racism and has been credited as a positive role model during his career.
This year’s finalist list was jam-packed with talent and generosity, a tribute to what Australians can do. From Victoria’s John Caldwell, an anti-bullying activist, to the Northern Territory’s Shellie Morris, an aboriginal signer and health campaigner who has achieved great success in raising awareness about glaucoma in Aboriginal communities, the eight state finalists brought a wide variety of skills and ideas to the table.
The award was presented Saturday evening as part of a day of celebration at Parliament House in Canberra. The day commenced with a morning tea for finalists and their families, hosted by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. “We have an amazing range of extraordinary, dedicated, committed, passionate, achieving people here in this courtyard this morning,” said Mr Abbott, “Where else could you find an award where finalists include footballers, ballet dancers, cancer researchers, singers and songwriters?’
The Young Australian of the Year was awarded to paralympian Jacqueline Feney, and Senior of the Year was presented to reconciliation advocate and former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Fred Cheney.
The awards ceremony concludes with the Australia Celebrates Live Concert, featuring the likes of Lior, Megan Washington and a host of Australian musical talent.
Also receiving an award on Australia Day was home cook extraordinaire Lindey Milan, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division within the Australian Honors System for service to hospitality, particularly the food and wine industry, and to the community.
Lindey Milan is a truly deserving awardee, having been a familiar face in television and print for 30 years, author of 8 best-selling books, advocate for the Australian food and wine industry, and a great devotee to charities, working with the Butterfly Foundation, Cure Cancer, OzHarvest and more.
‘I am truly humbled by this award,’ said Milan. ‘Really it is testament to the wonderful producers we have in Australia and to all those who work in our hospitality industry, in whatever role. It is especially meaningful to receive it on Australia Day, such a significant one for our nation and for me personally as an Australia Day Ambassador. I was brought up to be proud to be Australian and never have I been prouder than at this moment.’