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Australian of the Year Awards

The Australian of the Year Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people who have made a major contribution to their community and Australia.

Awards are presented in the following categories:

  • Australian of the Year
  • Senior Australian of the Year
  • Young Australian of the Year
  • Local Hero.

Each year, state recipients from each category proceed as national finalists. The national award recipients will be announced on Australia Day eve in Canberra.

2015 Queensland Australian of the Year recipients

The 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year recipients are:

Hetty Johnston AM – Child protection activist

Queensland Australian of the Year

Hetty Johnston AM, child protection activist

Founder of child protection charity, Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston is determined to make Australia the safest place in the world for children.

Hetty established Bravehearts in 1997 after learning her daughter had been sexually assaulted. Since then, Hetty has dedicated her life to creating awareness that child sexual assault is largely preventable and encouraging the nation to prioritise the safety of children. Today, Hetty leads a team of more than 70 employees who provide therapeutic, educational and advocacy services across the nation.

Hetty has worked tirelessly to bring attention to a topic that was once taboo and her work has resulted in major policy and legislative changes, as well as numerous inquiries across the nation. Hetty has compelled Australia to address child sexual assault and support the thousands of children who are sexually assaulted each year. She remains passionate and determined in her fight for children and her legacy will be a safer nation in which to raise a child.

Fred Hyde AM – Philanthropist

Senior Australian of the Year

Fred Hyde AM, philanthropist

While most people slow down when they retire, 95 year old Fred Hyde has devoted the last three decades and all of his resources—personal, physical and financial—to rescuing and educating abandoned children in Bangladesh.

A World War II veteran, Fred has spent his life working hard to help others. After seeing the plight of children left orphaned after a tidal wave on Bhola Island in 1970, Fred later sold his house and poured all his savings into his not-for-profit organisation, Co-operation in Development. Since 1991, Fred has built 45 schools, 5 kindergartens and teacher training facilities for 165 teachers and, at present, there are 12,000 children attending Co-operation in Development schools.

A humble but awe-inspiring leader, role model and mentor to many, Fred continues to spend six months of every year in Bangladesh, directing projects that touch the lives of countless people.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied – Engineer and social advocate

Young Australian of the Year

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, engineer and social advocate

Born in Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied moved to Australia when she was two and since then has devoted her extraordinary energy and talents to making Australia a better place.

At age 16, Yassmin founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally. Yassmin has forged a hybrid career as an engineer, social advocate and media commentator and she is a sought after candidate for state and federal councils. Yassmin has sat on the Australian Multicultural Council, the Board of the Queensland Museum and the Design Council, contributed as a member of the Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group and was on the organising committee of the 2014 Youth G20 Summit. She was also the team principal and designer of the University of Queensland's race team.

A role model to many, Yassmin has been recognised with many awards. Her achievements across a number of fields provide positive proof that hard work, resilience and self-belief can reap rewards, regardless of gender, faith or cultural background.

Juliette Wright – Social entrepreneur

Queensland’s Local Hero

Juliette Wright, social entrepreneur

Driven, inspired and relentlessly ambitious, Juliette Wright is on a mission to alleviate poverty.

Establishing an online platform in 2009 to connect those who have with those who need, Juliette is changing the face of how society helps its most vulnerable and marginalised people. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GIVIT, Juliette created the portal to ensure quality goods get to where they are most needed by safely connecting and inspiring an online network of givers. Juliette’s vision, hard work and determination have resulted in donations of more than 126,000 items to disadvantaged members of the Australian community. In 2011, when Queensland was hit by devastating floods, GIVIT became the state government’s official website for matching donors and recipients—with 1.8 million hits resulting in 33,000 goods matched in three weeks.

Juliette’s positive ‘can do’ attitude inspires others to embrace philanthropy and her next challenge is GIVIT Kids, a safe online platform for children to give new or pre-loved belongings.

2015 Queensland Australian of the Year finalists

The 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year finalists include:

Queensland Australian of the Year

Terri Irwin AM – Wildlife warrior

A conservation icon, Terri Irwin has devoted her life to protecting wildlife. The owner of Australia Zoo since 1992, Terri oversees many wildlife projects, including the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve at Cape York, which was recently declared Queensland’s first ever ‘strategic environmental area’.

Adam Scott – Golfer and charity founder

Ranked the world’s number one golfer in 2014, Adam Scott has reached the pinnacle of his sport. The first Australian to win the US Masters Tournament, Adam is also determined to give back. Through the Adam Scott Foundation, Adam supports young people from underprivileged backgrounds to further their educations.

Johnathan Thurston – Rugby league legend and mentor

Regularly cited as Rugby League’s best player, Johnathan Thurston is an Australian international player, Queensland State of Origin representative and co-captain of the North Queensland Cowboys. Passionate about footy, Johnathan is even more passionate about making a difference to the educational, employment and life opportunities of young Aboriginal Australians.

Senior Australian of the Year

Clive Berghofer AM – Philanthropist

One of Australia’s greatest philanthropists and self-made men, Clive Berghofer has donated more than $70 million to charity over the past two decades. The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute changed their name as a result of Clive’s generosity, following a $50 million donation towards cancer research. Clive aims to inspire corporate Australia to give more to the community.

Joan Harris – Volunteer

As president of fundraising group the Diggers’ Dozen Joan Harris has raised more than $200,000 for the important work conducted by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation. Joan’s altruism has enabled the foundation to expand its research efforts, while her famously sunny disposition endears her to all.

Jean Little OAM – Indigenous advocate

A trained nurse with skills in substance use and abuse, Jean Little was the first Aboriginal director of the Alcohol and Drug Council of Australia. A vocal commentator on Aboriginal issues, Jean conducts cultural awareness education, supports charities and community organisations and upholds the pride and dignity of her people.

Young Australian of the Year

Jamie-Lee Lewis – Sportsperson, coach and mentor

Jamie-Lee Lewis has never let hearing loss hold her back. The first deaf person to represent Australia in a hearing sport, Jamie-Lee was chosen in the Australian Junior women’s water polo team. A role model, mentor and coach, Jamie-Lee has encouraged many children and families to embrace cochlear implant technology.

Sean McCarthy – Philanthropist

Sean McCarthy established Containers of Compassion – a biennial project that recently delivered clothing, tools and vital resources in Africa. An active Rotary member and coach of two football teams, Sean’s abiding commitment is helping to build better communities both in Australia and abroad.

Madeline Price – Social justice campaigner

With a commitment to social justice, Madeline Price established the One Woman Project an eight-seminar program that explores global gender inequality and empowers young people to create sustainable change. Hardworking, passionate and just 21 years old, Madeline is inspiring young people to make a difference to the world.

Queensland's Local Hero

Andy Gourley – Youth advocate

The visionary founder of Red Frogs Australia, Andy Gourley’s school leavers network of 1,500 volunteers provide support and a positive peer presence in large gatherings of young people. Andy is driven to safeguard the next generation and challenges the community to readjust its perceptions of young people today.

Gitie House – Community contributor

Passionate about inclusion and diversity, Gitie House is the President of the Toowoomba International Multicultural Society. With a knack for bringing people together, Gitie is the driving force behind the Toowoomba Languages and Cultures Festival and her work has expanded cross-cultural cooperation and appreciation of diversity.

Uncle Barry Watson – Reconciliation champion

For three decades, Uncle Barry Watson has worked within the Logan community to improve the lives of Indigenous families. Uncle Barry has made it his life’s mission to instil a sense of pride in his people and he is helping the next generation understand their own identity, customs and history.

To learn more

The Australian of the Year Awards is a National Australia Day Council program and is proudly supported by the Queensland Government. To learn more about the awards and previous national finalists, visit the Australian of the Year website or phone (02) 6120 0600.

Nominations for the 2016 awards are now open. You can make a nomination by visiting the Australian of the Year website.

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Contact details

Previous winners

View previous Queensland Australian of the Year winners:

  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • Subscribe to the A state of celebration eNewsletter for monthly updates about awards and events.

    Last updated
    21 October, 2014

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