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Our Australia Day Award Winners and History Makers

2015 saw an impressive 824 individuals receive Australia Day honours coupled with a history making Australian of the Year award winners line up.

Platinum Preview

Dr Catriona Wallace

Dr Catriona Wallace

.... a deep insight and experience in the fields of gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

Mary Coustas

Mary Coustas 'as Effie'

.... Effie as MC - her infectious comedic talent ensures a vibrant and engaging entertainment experience

Olly Bridge

Olly Bridge

.... Post COVID corporate culture of health

Samantha Armytage

Samantha Armytage

.... Popular media personality and journalist with 23 years experience

Saroo Brierley

Saroo Brierley

.... separated from his mother only to be reunited with her 25 years later. Author of ‘A Long Way Home

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2015 Australian of the Year Award Recipients

Above: Australia of the Year award recipients Juliette Wright, Rosie Batty, Drisana Levitzke-Gray and Jackie French

By Platinum Speakers

The diversity of talent and philanthropy within our country is never more evident than on Australia Day. This year’s front-liners exemplified courage against adversity, selfless commitment to social justice and medical ingenuity to such an extent that it saw 824 outstanding individuals make the honour board.

Our Australian of the Year awards are the pinnacle of this prestigious event, recognising individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the broader community. For the first time in the Australia of the Year awards 40 year history, 2015 saw women take out the top honour in all four categories, the most notable being Rosie Batty, recipient of the 2015 Australian of the Year Award.

Rosie was selected from a list of eight candidates, including gay rights activist Rodney Croome and adoption campaigner Deborah-lee Furness. Rosie’s story has touched hearts across the nation with her rise to prominence and social activism being born from the most tragic of circumstances. It was just 12 months ago that her 11 year old son Luke became a casualty of family violence, bludgeoned and stabbed to death on a cricket field at the hands of his mentally ill father, while helpless team mates and parents watched on in horror.

Since this tragic event, Rosie has campaigned tirelessly for increased awareness, action and systemic changes to address the increasing incidence of domestic violence in our community. She is a beacon of hope for many and a reminder to the whole community that domestic violence happens in all walks of life and across the full spectrum of socio-economic environments.

In a heartfelt speech, Rosie dedicated her award to Luke, stating that he is the reason she found her voice and is able to be heard. Her strongest message was directed to those still caught firmly in the grip of family violence. “To the women and children who are unsafe, in hiding or living in fear, who have changed their names, left their extended families and moved from their communities to find safety, you do not deserve to live a life that is dictated by violence. You are not to blame.”

And to her “little man” she proclaimed “…you did not die in vain and will not be forgotten…. You are beside me on this journey and with me every step of the way.”

Senior Australian of the Year
Author of 140 books including the loved children’s classics The Magic Pudding and Diary of a Wombat, Jackie French has worked passionately in her role as national Children’s Laureat, traversing the country to promote literacy.

Having battled with and overcome dyslexia herself, 61-year old Jackie firmly believes that storytelling can have powerful transformational effects on the lives of young Australians, giving them the strength and belief that they can make a positive impact on their world.

Jackie’s books have been translated into 32 different languages and received over 60 literary prizes. In her address upon receiving her Senior Australian of the Year award, Jackie declared “If you want intelligent children, give them a book. If you want more intelligent children, give them more books.”

Young Australian of the Year
Young Australian of the Year Drisana Levitzke-Gray has been campaigning arduously for the rights of deaf children across the nation to have access from birth to Australia’s sign language system Auslan.

Whilst unable to hear herself, Drisana demands to be heard and in 2014, she became the first Auslan user to be accepted into jury duty, blazing the trail for other deaf Australians to be eligible to contribute in this civic duty.

As recipient of Young Australian of the Year, 21 year old Drisana’s speech made her passion and commitment clear, stating that “It’s the deaf community that gives me the drive and passion…. It’s a human right for deaf children to be able to access their language… We need the support of the Australian government to ensure that deaf children have access to Auslan.”

Local Hero
41-year old Queenslander Juliette Wright received the Local Hero award in recognition of her initiative and actions in alleviating poverty and distributing goods to the needy.
The GIVIT website was founded by Juliette in 2009 with the purpose of allowing people to safely donate goods and connect to those in need, changing the face of how such aid is delivered amongst our communities. The 2011 Queensland floods alone say more than 30,000 items directed through the site to affected families.

On receiving the award, Juliette stated that “the simple act of giving …builds a bridge between the haves and the have nots.”

As an expansion of the project, Juliette has recently launched GIVIT Kids, a safe online platform through which children can donate new or pre-loved goods. This initiative is a great way parents can teach their children about giving and helping care for others in our community.

From the team at Platinum, we would like to congratulate former ABC broadcaster Elaine Canty (AM), champion surfer Layne Beachley (AO), and journalist and television presenter George Negus (AM) who are amongst the long list of exceptional individuals honoured this year.