Sunshine Coast scientist named Australian of the Year
BIOMOLECULAR scientist Alan Mackay-Sim, whose work has been hailed as more impressive than the moon landing, has been named Australian of the Year for 2017.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented the Sunshine Coast professor with the trophy in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Wednesday night.
Prof Mackay-Sim has spent his career looking at the regenerative properties of stem cells and how they can be used to repair damaged spinal cords.
A community fundraising champion has been named Australia's Local Hero for 2017.
Victorian woman Vicki Jellie received the award at tonight's ceremony for her dedication to fighting for better cancer services.
After her husband Peter died of cancer in 2008, Ms Jellie fought relentlessly to make his dream to bring radiotherapy services to the South West of Victoria a reality.
Ms Jellie lobbied governments and rallied the community to raise funds and by 2014, their dream came true.
The local community had raised $5 million and the state and federal government pitched in $25 million for the new South West Regional Cancer Centre.
In accepting the award, Ms Jellie said the honour of 'local hero' belonged to everyone who helped bring the centre to life.
"Together we've proven that nothing's impossible and have worked determinedly to ensure cancer patients in our region have been given the absolute best access to cancer treatment, send to none to anywhere in Australia," she said.
Sister Anne Gardiner has been named the 2017 Senior Australian of the Year.
The 85-year-old was awarded the honour for a lifetime community service on the Tiwi Islands of the Northern Territory.
Sister Anne was asked to move to Bathurst Island to live among the Tiwi people as a 22-year-old member of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
In the 62 years since, she has devoted her life to enriching community, enhancing opportunity and supporting the Tiwi culture.
"As persons our identity is in who we are, not what we are," she said, accepting the award tonight.
"I pray that all people in our wonderful country Australia regardless of language, culture, skin colour or religious belief may stand tall as proud Australians."
In her speech, she urged policy makers to engage with the Tiwi people and other indigenous Australians so policies might recognise their culture.
Sister Anne has educated generations of children as the principal of the local primary school while also establishing community clubs, from mothers' groups to Little Athletics. She runs regular prayer meetings, founded an op shop and established a café to raise funds to support
her much-loved community.
Sr Anne's labour of love, the Patakajiyali museum, shares valuable Tiwi stories, language and traditional customs, while also bringing financial benefit to the people.
ashion designer Paul Vasileff has been named the Young Australian of the Year for 2017.
The South Australian, whose couture label Paolo Sebastian is now featured on the world's runways and worn by celebrities at the Oscars and Logies, said it was a shock to win and recognised the amazing stories of his fellow finalists.
Vasileff said he had strived to be he best he could be and make his dream come true from a very young age.
"At a time when the majority of production was moving offshore, I wanted to locally produce my product and sustain the art of couture in Australia," he said.
"I am proud today that we are able nature and uphold these skills locally and provide Australians with jobs."
Vasileff continues to run the label from his home town with just 13 locally hired staff.