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HerCanberra Team

2016 Australian of the Year – David Morrison AO (ACT)

2016 Senior Australian of the Year – Professor Gordian Fulde (NSW)

2016 Young Australian of the Year – Nic Marchesi & Lucas Patchett (QLD)

2016 Australia’s Local Hero – Dr Catherine Keenan (NSW)

Equality advocate and former Chief of Army, David Morrison AO, has been named as the 2016 Australian of the Year at a ceremony held on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra this evening.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, who presented David Morrison with the Australian of the Year trophy.

The former Lieutenant-General Morrison, now retired from the Army, was awarded the honour for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

His very public 2013 video message, ordering misbehaving troops to ‘get out’ if they couldn’t accept women as equals, went viral and he started a cultural shift which has changed Australia’s armed forces forever.

Since then, the number of women joining the army has grown by two per cent and the culture is more accepting of racial, ethnic and sexual diversity.

In 2014, David was invited to speak at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, sharing the stage with US Secretary of State John Kerry and actor and activist Angelina Jolie, and arguing that militaries that exclude women ‘do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute’.

David retired in 2015 after 36 years in the Australian Army, and four years as its Chief, but he continues his commitment as a champion of human rights in his new role as the Chair of the Diversity Council Australia and he continues to live in the ACT.

2016 Senior Australian of the Year: Professor Gordian Fulde of NSW. 


From midnight to dawn, while most people are in bed, Professor Gordian Fulde is presiding over one of Australia’s busiest emergency departments. The Director of Emergency at St Vincent’s Hospital and Sydney Hospital for more than three decades, Gordian is the longest serving emergency department director in Australia.

The doctor on call when disaster strikes, 67 year old Gordian has seen it all and is passionately outspoken about the scourge of ‘ice’ and alcohol-fuelled violence which delivers a flood of people into Australian hospitals each weekend. While you will occasionally see him appear on Kings Cross ER, Gordian is also actively involved in teaching and training students and staff in many facets of emergency medicine.

A member of the Board of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, Gordian also supports many schools and community organisations, sharing his stories of working in an urban warzone, and warning of the dangers of a binge drinking culture, which is overwhelmingly the main cause of injury in Australia’s emergency departments. 

2016 Young Australian of the Year Award: Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett


Best mates Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett built a free mobile laundry in their old van to help the homeless. 

Orange Sky Laundry began in September 2014 and, since then, the world-first idea has rapidly expanded to five vans in Brisbane, Melbourne, South East Victoria, Sydney and the Gold Coast. Run by over 270 volunteers, the custom fitted vans with two commercial washing machines and two dryers, service over 36 locations and wash over 350 loads each week.

A catalyst for bringing people of all walks of life together, Orange Sky facilitates countless hours of conversations each week. In February 2015, they took their mobile laundry to North Queensland to wash clothes in cyclone affected communities. 

Nic and Lucas have found a way to treat others the way they want to be treated by restoring respect, raising health standards and reducing the strain on resources. They now plan to expand services Australia-wide with the aim of positively connecting the community and improving the lives of others.

This is the first time the Young Australian of the Year has been jointly awarded to two people. 

Australia’s Local Hero 2016: Dr Catherine Keenan


A former journalist, arts writer and literary editor, Catherine Keenan turned her back on her career in 2012 to help nurture the talent and creativity of marginalised young Australians. As the co-founder and executive director of the Sydney Story Factory, Catherine has helped thousands of primary and high school students express themselves through writing and storytelling.

Catherine, who has a doctorate in English literature from Oxford University, is focused on helping people from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds, but everyone is welcome to attend the Sydney Story Factory and all classes are free.

With energy, enthusiasm and sheer hard work, Catherine has raised funds, established partnerships and trained more than 1,200 volunteers who work with students one-on-one or in small groups to teach them writing skills, cultivate their creativity and help them find their own voice. 

Catherine’s passion for language, literature and creative writing is building self-esteem and academic achievement, opening pathways to higher education and improving the life choices of many young Australians. 

The Chairman of the National Australia Day Council, Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG, congratulated the Award recipients, who were selected from nominations received from the public.

“It’s not an easy decision that I and the Board of the National Australia Day Council have to make about who stands here as the 2016 Australians of the Year, as the national finalists are all worthy recipients,” said Mr Roberts-Smith. 

“David, Gordian, Nic and Luke, and Catherine are Australians who truly inspire us and make us proud – they are people who step up, speak out and take action to make a difference in our nation and to help others.”


Her Canberra

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