Every year extraordinary Australians are honoured and acknowledged through the Australian of the Year Award.
Every year extraordinary Australians are honoured and acknowledged through the Australian of the Year Award. This year, a new exhibition showcasing finalists of the award comes to the Australian Museum from the National Museum, Canberra. As the country’s first museum and a hub of Australian natural history and culture, the Australian Museum makes a fitting home for the intimate exhibition.
Featuring individual items selected by each of the eight finalists of Australia’s most prestigious awards, selections are as diverse and wide-ranging as the finalists and their causes, offering a glimpse into the lives of Australia’s most inspiring citizens. The causes championed are all relevant to the lives of modern Australians, and the objects selected by each finalist communicate something special about their experiences.
2015’s Australian of the Year winner, Rosie Batty of Victoria, won for her tireless campaign against domestic violence following the tragic death of her son. She presents her childhood doll dressed in clothes knitted by her grandmother.
NSW’s Deborah-lee Furness has submitted a child’s cart filled with water bottles, symbolic of the moment she chose to dedicate herself to adoption reform.
‘One day I found Oscar walking through the house with his cart filled with water the water bottles from the fridge’, recounts Furness. ‘Of course I asked where he was going with all our water supply and he said … “I’m going to Africa, Mum, because the kids there have no clean water”… If my five-year-old has enough gumption to want to do something to make the world a better place, I really need to step up.”
Canberra’s Glenn Keys has chosen a candle lit at both his wedding and the baptisms of his children, and was nominated for his ongoing philanthropy.
Queensland finalist, Hetty Johnson AM, is an avid campaigner against child abuse and submitted a Native American talking stick she received as a gift.
Activist Rodney Croome AM of Tasmania presents a badge he was wearing when arrested in 1988 for defending gay rights.
Western Australian finalist Lyn Beazley AO has offered a small brooch-a gift from a mentor to acknowledge her thirty years in the field of neuroscience.
The Northern Territory’s Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM, who has dedicated her life to Indigenous issues and defending her people’s traditional way of life, presents a sacred coolamon (explain what this is?) made by her uncle.
Dr. Gill Hicks MBE of South Australia is a peace campaigner, who has selected the briefcase and contents she was carrying when on a London tube train attacked by terrorists on July 7, 2005. The briefcase had remained unopened until November 2014, in preparation for this exhibition.
Dr. Hicks lost both her legs in the London tube terror attacks, and was the last person to be pulled from the scene alive. Her survival marked a transformation in her purpose and identity. “For me, there was an absolute vow and recognition that, if I was to survive, then I must devote my life to making a difference,” she says. Of her object, Hicks says “For me it’s the symbol of the end of life as I knew it, the end of what I call life number one…It’s a great reminder of how I was devoted very much to my career rather than looking at how I could make a difference as a person. That’s the demarcation line for me of life number one compared to life number two.”
The Australian of the Year exhibition offers an intimate, raw and honest insight into what drives some of the country’s most outstanding citizens. On display from (dates), the Australian Museum is proud to showcase those who work tirelessly for a better nation and world.
On display until 29 November the Australian Museum is proud to showcase those who work tirelessly for a better nation and world.