The Australian of the Year awards have just gone down in Canberra tonight, with the prestigious annual awards highlighting some truly stellar individuals who make Australia a better place. This year, 4 incredible women have taken out the awards at the Australian of the Year ceremony.
Australia, welcome Victoria’s Rosie Batty as your 2015 Australian of the Year. Batty has been praised for her work as a strong campaigner against domestic violence in Australia, and pushing the issue to the national agenda. Batty was brought into the spotlight in 2014 after the tragic death of her 11-year-old son, Luke, at the hands of his father. “I’m here because one in three women is affected by family violence, one in four children, and one woman a week dies,” Batty said at the ceremony tonight.
“My commitment is I will continue to push this message, and I accept this award for all victims of violence who have no-one and [for whom] it’s unsafe to speak,” said the absolutely deserving winner, who also dedicated the award to her son: “he is the reason I have found my voice and I’m able to be heard.”
It looks as though 2014’s Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, has appropriately passed the baton to Rosie Batty. Goodes campaigned against domestic violence and racism in 2014, praising the progress that has been made, but encouraging for further work, in an address this afternoon: “Whilst we are not quite there yet and still have a way to go, I feel that in 2014, we as a nation, community and individuals, have made progress.”
The Senior Australian of the Year was won by beloved award-winning children’s author Jackie French, known for books such as “Diary of a Wombat”. French is also renowned for her work campaigning for students with learning difficulties. “Reading is the most powerful thing you can give to a child – reading and stories,” French said – a sentiment we can’t help but whole-heartedly agree with.
The Young Australian of the Year has been awarded to Western Australia’s Drisana Levitzke-Gray, a deaf-rights activist. “We need the support of the Australian government to make sure that they have access to Auslan. It’s a human right that they have access to that language,” Levitzke-Gray stated, before inviting the crowd to applaud in Auslan.
The “Local Hero” category was awarded to Queensland’s Juliette Wright, praised for her work as the chief executive officer of GIVIT, an innovative charity website that allows those who wish to donate food, clothing or other items to be connected with the appropriate people or organisations. So far, 126,000 items have been donated to people in need on GIVIT.
Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for inspiring all Australians to be better.
Lead image via Australianoftheyear.org.au