2018 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards recipients
The 2018 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients were announced at a ceremony hosted by the Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria and Mr Anthony Howard QC at Government House in Melbourne on Thursday 26 October 2017.
The Victorian Australian of the Year Award finalists for 2019 will be announced in October 2018.
2018 Victorian Australian of the Year – Samuel Johnson OAM
When his beloved big sister Connie was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Samuel Johnson made the promise of a lifetime. He pledged to ride his unicycle around Australia to remind every woman to be breast aware. From this, Love Your Sister was born. In 2013 and 2014, Samuel travelled 15,465 kilometres, breaking the world record for the longest distance travelled on a unicycle and raising $1.4 million for the Garvan Research Foundation. Love Your Sister has raised more than $7 million for cancer research, including $2.5 million in five-cent coins. A household name on Australian television for many years,Samuel was awarded the Gold Logie in 2017 for his performance as Molly Meldrum. Making his family’s tragedy and pain a public cause, Samuel has vowed to put his acting career on hold until Love Your Sister raises $10 million. While Connie has recently passed away, Samuel has pledged to continue to fight for families and to “kick cancer to the kerb”.
- Karen Livingstone – Cancer Crusader
- Magda Szubanski – Actor, Author and Spokeswoman for Marriage Equality
- Lyn White AM – Animal Advocate
2018 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year – Professor Paul Zimmet AO
An international leader in the field of diabetes for 40 years, Professor Paul Zimmet has had a profound impact on the lives of Australians living with diabetes. Paul’s research studies in the 1980s predicted the current global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, and he was instrumental in convincing governments and health organisations of the disease’s social and economic impact. Paul established the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne in 1984, the first institute in Australia to concentrate on diabetes and associated disorders. He has published more than 890 research papers, has been named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds, and is ranked in the top 10 diabetes researchers for global impact. The award-winning scientist
has mentored many other experts in his field, and has influenced the work of healthcare professionals, diabetes educators, city planners, politicians and policy-makers. Paul’s intellect, knowledge, international profile and passion have harnessed medical, scientific, community and government resources to combat the national and global diabetes epidemic.
- Graham Atkinson MBA BA BSW AM – Land Rights and Social Justice Leader
- Eleanor Griffiths – Volunteer Fitness Instructor for the Elderly
- Rhonda Renwick – Philanthropist
2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year – Georgie Stone
When she was 10 years old, Georgie Stone became the youngest person in Australia to be granted permission by a court to take hormone blockers, the first stage of medical treatment for transgender children. Hers was a landmark case in the Family Court of Australia, but one of many battles she’s fought in her 17 years. A brave and visible advocate for trans and gender diverse youth in Australia, Georgie has overcome suicidal thoughts and bullying to blaze a trail for others. Her advocacy work in the media has driven progress in health and medical services, access to safe schooling environments and legal reform. Many organisations, from schools to the NSW Police Force, use her appearances on Four Corners and Australian Story for training and
education. With determination and dignity, Georgie has educated everyone around her, from family to federal politicians. And she has shown Australia that trans youth can speak out, tell their stories, demand equality and gain acceptance.
- Dylan Alcott – Sportsperson and Disability Advocate
- Madeline Buchner – Champion for Young Carers
- Dr Harris Eyre MBBS PHD – Medical Pioneer and Executive in Mental Health Innovation
2018 Victorian Local Hero – Mat Botwell, East Burwood
Melbourne-based engineer, Mat Bowtell volunteers his spare time and funds to design and make open-source prosthetic devices for those who cannot afford them. During his studies he realised how
expensive prosthetics are, especially for families with growing children, so set the goal to close the gap. After spending $5,000 on a 3D printer, scanner and software, he began making open-source prosthetic hands for people around the world. While traditional prosthetics can cost up to $6,000, Matt’s revolutionary ‘kinetic finger’ can be made for under $1. Rather than licence his designs for profit, Mat has made them freely available online. Mat has helped children and adults in Australia and around the world, including one recipient in Japan who could play the piano again after a decade of silence. Mat never set out to seek acclaim or reward for his volunteer work, but wanted to spread love and compassion to those in need by giving back to society.
- Janice Ablett, Drouin – Drug Rehabilitation and Recovery Practitioner
- Mohammed Alam, Preston – Diversity Champion and Dedicated Volunteer
- Trevor Carroll, Whittlesea – Disability Justice Campaigner
Australia Day Victoria would like to congratulate all the recipients and finalists and pay tribute to the outstanding contribution they make to our state.
Past Victorian Australian of the Year Award Recipients
Please note: * Indicates that the Victorian Finalist was awarded the National Australian of the Year award in that category.
Find out more information about the Honour roll – Past Award Finalist and Recipients.