The 2021 ACT Australian of the Year Awards have been announced this evening at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, with Professor Brendan Murphy named 2021 ACT Australian of the Year.
The other three recipients of ACT awards announced this evening included: Patricia Anderson AO, the 2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year; Tara McClelland, the 2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year; and Timothy Miller, the 2021 ACT Local Hero.
The former Chief Medical Officer to the Federal Government, Professor Murphy was acknowledged due to his provision of expert advice to the Federal Government to close the international borders before the spread of COVID-19 – a decision which is believed to have saved tens of thousands of Australian lives.
His leadership contributed to Australia’s capacity to prevent the first wave of COVID-19 taking hold across Australia back in March.
As chair of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee, Professor Murphy was chiefly responsible for introducing physical distancing measures in the early stages of the COVID response.
The Committee oversaw physical distancing implementation in Australia before WHO advice and in advance of other developed countries.
The 2021 ACT Senior Australian of the Year, Ms Anderson, is an Alyawarre woman, writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. She has enjoyed an extensive career spanning community development, policy formation, and research ethics.
Ms Anderson has dedicated her life and career to creating and nurturing understanding and compassion between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
The 2021 ACT Young Australian of the Year, Ms McClelland, is an advocate for the rights of young people. In her professional role as Youth Worker with the Salvation Army, she works with 16-25-year-olds experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness, helping to expand their skills while in crisis accommodation.
She is also passionate about advocating for young people’s mental health issues.
The 2021 ACT Local Hero, Mr Miller, is the founder of Lids4Kids, a national organisation which encourages households, schools, businesses and organisations to collect plastic lids to be recycled into sustainable products for children.
Mr Miller coordinates leaders from all states to spread the message about Lids4Kids in their communities and collect, clean and sort lids from drop-off points around towns and cities.
His efforts have saved millions of plastic lids from landfill, while educating children about the issue of plastic waste and empowering them to take action.
The four ACT recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2021.
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the ACT award recipients.
“The 2021 ACT Australians of the Year are all dedicated to protecting and helping others, with a common thread of concern for health and wellbeing,” said Ms Brand.