The four inspirational Canberrans – Timothy Miller, Patricia Anderson AO, Professor Brendan Murphy and Tara McClelland.

The four inspirational Canberrans – Timothy Miller, Patricia Anderson AO, Professor Brendan Murphy and Tara McClelland.

02 November 2020

Australia’s former Chief Medical Officer, an Australia’s First Peoples advocate, a youth worker and the founder of a local charity have all been recognised as part of this year’s ACT Australian of the Year Awards.

The four inspirational Canberrans – Professor Brendan Murphy, Patricia Anderson AO, Tara McClelland and Timothy Miller – will now join the winners from other states and territories for the national awards on 25 January, 2021.

2021 ACT Australian of the Year – Professor Brendan Murphy

Brendan Murphy is the former Chief Medical Officer to the Federal Government and current Secretary of the Department of Health. Brendan provided expert advice to the Federal Government to close the international borders before the spread of COVID-19.

“I’ve been in health all my life; clinical work, health reform, health leadership, and the CMO role in the Commonwealth was just the pinnacle of my health career,” Professor Murphy said when accepting his accolade.

“I didn’t want this ghastly virus to come, but I was there when it came. I was determined to save the Australian people from what we saw in the rest of the world. It’s been the most privileged thing I’ve done all my life.”

As Chair of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC), the 65-year-old has provided clear guidance to all Australian governments around restricting Australian business and community activities. AHPPC, under his leadership, was also responsible for introducing physical distancing measures.

“It’s important to me because I care about people and care about the health of our nation, I care about particularly vulnerable people who are the people who are tragically affected by this virus,” he added.

“We’ve been able to manage to restart our economy and to be as a nation in a place that I wouldn’t swap being an Australian for any other nation in the world at the moment.”

Watch a replay of the ceremony below:

2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year - Patricia Anderson AO

Patricia Anderson is a 76-year-old Alyawarre woman who has built a national and international reputation as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples.

She has dedicated her life to creating and nurturing understanding and compassion between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

“It’s time for us all, all Australians to settle the unfinished business between us, between First Nations people, and other Australians, these days coming from a wonderful diversity of backgrounds and influences,” Ms Anderson said.

“In 2017 it was my privilege to be part of the deliberative process which delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This is offered to all Australians as a gift of hope. The statement calls for a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament … We gifted this to you, the Australian people.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the latest activism that we’ve undertaken to change the mind of the nation, to indeed change the narrative.”

A widely published writer, she has served as Chair on multiple organisations, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, and the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council.

2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year - Tara McClelland

Tara McClelland works tirelessly to support and advocate for the rights and wellbeing of ACT’s young people.

In her role as Youth Worker with the Salvation Army, Tara works with 16 to 25-year-olds exposed to homelessness, helping to expand their skills while in crisis accommodation.

“Anything that’s going to help another young person is so important. I’m particularly passionate about mental health and I know it’s something many people struggle with and it’s something that is taking a great toll on our nation at the moment with everything that’s been happening,” Ms McClelland said.

“So, anything that will promote and inspire young people get their help and reach out and speak to others who might be suffering because we’re all in this together.”

The 24-year-old also volunteers with the Youth Reference Group at Headspace Canberra, where she helps apply for funding, organises events to support mental wellbeing, and holds school information sessions.

She has also assisted the Children and Young People Commissioner’s Office with their work on family violence.

2021 ACT Local Hero - Timothy Miller

Timothy Miller runs Lids4Kids, a national organisation that encourages households, schools, businesses, and organisations to collect plastic lids to be recycled into sustainable products for children.

Tim coordinates leaders from all states to spread the message about Lids4Kids, with more than 25,000 participants across Australia.

“I thought the recycling project’s biggest impact was just rescuing plastic from landfill. Something as simple as a lid, you think well it’s completely recyclable, it is something that can be turned into another product, but just in 2020 it’s still something that worldwide can’t actually be processed by the recycling machines, so it does go to landfill,” Mr Miller said.

“I thought that would be the thing that would be the biggest impact, but it hasn’t. It has been the community connections that have been made and the social inclusion that I’ve found that week to week – hosting sorting workshops and visiting hospitals and working with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s or kids with autism or cerebral palsy still finding that there’s something incredibly meaningful they can do. They really get a kick out of knowing – even a four-year-old understands the benefit of rescuing a small piece of plastic and not letting it go to the oceans, rivers or landfill.

“What I’m really hoping it will have is to inspire everyday people in every town in Australia to get like-minded people together and rescue this plastic. But it’s not just plastic – it’s every single product you bring home from the supermarket, to think this product can have a second life. But not only to inspire local governments to really understand the will is there.”

Previously, Tim spent his career working in road safety and environmentalism, leading the development of a 5-star environmental rating for vehicles. With a passion for cars, he takes part in outback rallies to fundraise for various charities that help sick, disadvantaged or disabled children.

Don’t forget nominations are open year-round. If you know someone who is making an exceptional contribution to the Canberra community, then nominate them for the Australian of the Year Awards at:

All Canberra

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