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239481 (photo), 239482 (jewelry charm)

Objects Remembered: The Australians of the Year exhibition

HerCanberra Team

“It is an honour to be here, in the house of stories.” – Elizabeth Broderick, the former Sex Discrimination Commissioner of NSW.

Champions for gender equality, the abolition of capital punishment, conservation, personal sacrifice for others, affordable health care and the building of youth self-esteem, are being honoured in a new exhibition featuring the National Australia Day Council’s (NADC) 2016 Australian of the Year finalists.

It was a casual and intimate opening ceremony, with the candidates for each state (aside from Dr John Greenwood and Julian McMahon who were unable to attend) seated on armchairs on the stage. Each of them was given the opportunity to explain both their cause and their objects to the audience, with some interesting observations coming to light.

Catherine McGregor, whose journey as an advocate for transgender rights has become international news over the past year and a half, said her journey was “some days unremarkable, other days I don’t know how I’m still here” and admitted she hoped that “there would someday be an Australia where a trans person isn’t just awarded for being who they are.”

Catherine McGregor's objects: the first adult cricket bat her father gave her and her first cap playing for the women's Air Force cricket team

Catherine McGregor’s objects

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca, said the 2016 Australian of the Year finalists have chosen very personal and varied objects reflecting formative events in their lives and the people who helped shape them.

“It is an honour to feature objects from these extraordinary individuals at the National Museum and to share their inspirational stories with the nation,” said Dr Trinca, introducing the exhibition.

National Australia Day Council CEO Jeremy Lasek said, “We are very proud to collaborate with the National Museum to bring together this exhibition to tell the stories of the eight incredible 2016 Australian of the Year finalists. They all have amazing stories worthy of the nation’s attention, and this exhibition is a wonderful way to tell their story.”

The objects on display now at the National Museum of Australia are:

  • Victorian barrister and death penalty opponent, Julian McMahon, has selected a portrait of Indonesian President Joko Widodo painted by Myuran Sukumaran. Sukumaran was executed
    in Indonesia in April 2015 following drug-related charges.
  • Queensland’s Royal Australian Air Force group captain Catherine McGregor, campaigns for transgender rights and has chosen a childhood cricket bat given to her by her late father and
    a ‘baggy blue’ cap presented on her debut in the RAAF women’s cricket team.
  • ACT equality advocate and former Chief of Army, David Morrison, has selected two miniature Australian First World War soldiers made from shrapnel recovered from the battlefields of WW1.
  • Northern Territory youth worker, Will MacGregor, has chosen a carved female statue from
    Papua New Guinea as a reminder of the strong women who have shaped his life.
  • Tasmanian conservationist, Jane Hutchinson, has selected her father’s binoculars which
    she used as a child.
  • Western Australian nurse and Australian Red Cross aid worker, Anne Carey, has chosen
    a sunhat that she wore while helping Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.
  • South Australian burns surgeon, Dr John Greenwood, has selected a unique foam dressing
    and equipment used to culture a patient’s skin.
  • NSW finalist and former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has chosen
    a black and white photograph of her and her identical twin sister, Jane, alongside a small metal charm which belonged to Elizabeth’s mother, Margot.
Elizabeth Broderick's objects

Elizabeth Broderick’s objects

Each year Australia celebrates the achievement and contribution of extraordinary people through the Australian of the Year Awards, by profiling leading citizens who are role models for all of Australia.

The Australian of the Year recipients will be announced in Canberra on Australia Day Eve – 25 January 2016.

the essentials 

What: The Australian of the Year exhibition
Where: The National Museum of Australia, Acton
When: The museum is open 9am-5pm every day. The exhibition is free and located in the entrance hall.
Cost: Free


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