A hero cave-diving doctor, a mountaineer, an ambulance volunteer, the first female AFL umpire, a body image advocate, a refugee youth ambassador and a pioneer in rural health are among nominees for the 2019 South Australia Australian of the Year awards.
The nominees are in the running to be named SA Australian of the Year, SA Senior Australian of the Year, SA Young Australian of the Year and SA Local Hero.
The winners will be announced on Thursday, November 1 at a function at the Adelaide Oval.
The South Australian award winners will join other state and territory recipients from around Australia in the national awards, announced in Canberra on January 25.
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand, said the South Australia nominees were among more than 120 people being recognised in all states and territories as part of the 2019 Australian of the Year awards.
"The South Australia nominees are extraordinary people contributing in many different ways, from community leadership to national and international influence,” Ms Brand said.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au.
The 2019 South Australia Award nominees are:
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR CATEGORY
Taryn Brumfitt, body image advocate
Taryn Brumfitt’s mission is to teach people the value and power of loving their bodies. A film director, author, international keynote speaker and founder of The Body Image Movement, she gained global attention in 2013 when her unconventional “before and after” personal photos went viral.
The images sparked a conversation across the world about the harmful effects of unrealistic body images on people’s health, happiness and self-esteem. Since then, Taryn has dedicated six years and over half a million dollars of her own (and husband Mat’s) money to become a leading activist for positive body image.
Her 2016 documentary, Embrace, struck a nerve with millions of people around the world, inviting them to question media-created standards of beauty and to learn to love and embrace their bodies – above, and in spite of, what society values.
Taryn’s work has positively influenced girls and women, men and boys across Australia and internationally. Importantly, it is also influencing media outlets to promote body diversity, and redefining ideals about health.
Dr Richard Harris, specialist anaesthetist and cave diver
In July 2018, Adelaide anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris made worldwide headlines when he joined an international team to rescue a group of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
A diver with 30 years’ experience and a specialist in aeromedical retrieval, Richard was leaving for a cave-diving holiday when he received the call for help. Under great pressure and putting his own life at risk, he swam through the narrow cave system to assess the health of those trapped, giving the medical all-clear for each evacuee, and administering an anaesthetic to each of them within the cave to facilitate their rescue.
Richard was key to the rescue’s success, showing character, determination and courage, and staying until the last person was safe.
He has previously participated in complex diving recoveries, appeared in National Geographic documentaries and, in 2015, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to cave exploration. In 2017 he was awarded The Australasian Technical Diver of the Year.
Katie Sarah, mountaineer, pioneer and volunteer
In 2018, Katie Sarah became the first woman to achieve the elusive Seven-Seven challenge – climbing the seven tallest mountains and the seven tallest volcanoes on each of the world’s seven continents.
The 50 year-old Adelaide mother of three is one of eight people worldwide to complete this challenge, including standing on top of Mt Everest and trekking across previously untraversed regions of Antarctica.
Between climbing and operating a global adventure tourism business, Katie is an inspirational speaker donating her time to charitable work. Since 2011, she completes fortnightly shifts for the Leukaemia Foundation, taking patients and their carers to hospital for treatment and home again.
She volunteers as a board member for Holiday Explorers, an SA not-for-profit, is a current financial supporter of SAHMRI and Catherine House, is presently establishing a future volunteer relationship Operation Flinders and donates time and money to Sight for All – recently guiding a trek in Bhutan, with the group raising $60,000 to help Sight For All fight blindness in the underprivileged country.
Vicky Welgraven, women’s advocate
Proud Adnyamathanha woman Vicky Welgraven is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, ensuring their interests are represented – and their voices are heard.
A respected speaker with an engaging and consultative approach, she has lobbied federal and state members of parliament on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s issues, in particular the impact of domestic violence on women, children and community, and is a current member of the South Australian Premier’s Council for Women.
Vicky is a former SA representative of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance, representing them at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She was inducted in the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll in 2015, in recognition of her work as a strong advocate and ambassador for Aboriginal women’s rights.
Vicky is a champion of those impacted by family and domestic violence, promoting gender equality and respectful relationships through her role as a White Ribbon Advocate. Meanwhile, as director of Our Watch, she seeks to address power imbalances leading to gender-based violence.
SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR CATEGORY
Reginald Dodd, 78, reconciliation advocate
Arabunna elder Reg Dodd has spent a lifetime advocating for his people. Using a Roget’s Thesaurus, he interpreted complex legislation, making his first Native Title claim in 1998.
At Reg’s initiative, Lawyers for the Arabunna Marree People (LAMP) was created, with lawyers from all over Australia providing millions of dollars of pro bono legal assistance – including legal support for Native Title, which was granted to the Arabunna in 2012.
Other LAMP initiatives included a submission for National Heritage listing of Arabunna country, now on the finalised priority assessment list; securing funding for heritage restoration works; and emergency assistance to individual Arabunna women and men. With a LAMP lawyer, Reg also co-designed and co-taught a law course at RMIT University on country.
A loyal family man, Reg has led cultural immersion tours of the Lake Eyre region since 1996 to financially support the Arabunna Centre and promote reconciliation. He is also a magnificent photographic artist, holding many successful exhibitions.
Dr Robert Irving, 70, veterinarian
Since 1996, veterinarian surgeon Dr Bob Irving has spent half of each year travelling to Aboriginal remote communities in the Anangu-Pitjantjatjara-Yankunyjatjara lands in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to treat sick animals, mostly dogs.
Funded by government Dog Health Program, Bob travels by road to many remote areas in dangerous terrain. In early days, he often had to camp out with his swag and cook over an open fire. Originally beginning in South Australia, he soon realised that dogs were travelling from interstate for sporting events, funerals and ceremonial activities, so he extended the program to communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
His valuable service helps reduces the risk of transmission of the skin infections, diarrheal diseases and chronic gut parasitic infections from dogs to humans. It also controls the population size of dogs, ensures dogs don’t suffer the painful consequences of mange, and humanely removes sick or troublesome dogs from the population.
Barry Lewis, 72, umpire and mentor
In 1974, Barry Lewis umpired his first football match between Port Adelaide and Darlington police. Forty-four years later, the retired South Australian superintendent, who served the police force for more than 50 years, has umpired more than 2000 matches – averaging six to eight games each week
Barry is the main field umpire for the Adelaide Football League C7 division, a 12-a-side Australian Rules Football competition for males with a disability, supported by Inclusive Sport SA. Barry is highly respected, as an umpire, mentor and friend both on and off the field to the C7 division.
A life member of Inclusive Sport SA, Barry is compassionate and fair. He’s been awarded seven Umpire Golden Whistles and five South Australia Football Association’s Umpire of the Year.
Barry has life membership of the SA Amateur Football League Umpires Association (and received the first 1000 game certificate in 2018); the South Australia Police Football Association; the Australian Police Football Association (awarded ‘Legend Status in 2018); the Port Adelaide Police Social Club; and, Inclusive Sports SA.
Geoff Stewart, 73, Ambulance Service volunteer
Every year, retired serviceman and South Australian Ambulance Service volunteer, Geoff Stewart, assists on most of the 220-plus callouts Tumby Bay ambulance service receives. The deputy mayor of Tumby Bay, Geoff has been known to leave in the middle of a council meeting to respond to an ambulance call.
Geoff’s support for the ambulance service has included arranging sponsors to fund and supply five community heart defibrillators, which he then personally installed. He regularly volunteers his time to educate community groups on how to use the defibrillators to save lives.
Geoff also supports his local community in a variety of other ways. He helped organise and run an Aged Care Expo for retired people who wanted to know how to navigate the Aged Care system, which was attended by over 170 people. He also conducts research for the Tumby Bay RSL, gathering history on local service personnel, and producing accounts of their military service.
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR CATEGORY
Eleni Glouftsis, 26, Australia’s first female AFL umpire
Eleni Glouftsis made history at the age of 25 – by becoming the first woman to officiate Australian Football League games as a field umpire. While in high school, she began umpiring for amateur leagues and was awarded an AFL Female Pathway Scholarship.
Through her dedication to the sport, Eleni became the first female umpire in the South Australian National Football League – before going on to umpire 33 senior games for the Victorian Football League. After working hard on her fitness levels, Eleni finally broke though at the highest level in 2017.
With no female umpire to look up to in her own career, Eleni hopes her debut will open doors for other young girls who are passionate about professional umpiring. Her tenacity and commitment to overcoming barriers have enabled her to smash through this glass ceiling and redefine the role of women in sport. As a Greek-Australian, Eleni also inspires culturally diverse communities to be included in Australian institutions.
Arefa Hassani, 25, advocate for asylum seekers and refugees
Since arriving in Australia as a refugee, and in the face of significant adversity and challenges of settling into a new country, Arefa Hassani has dedicated herself to supporting and advocating for the needs of asylum-seeker communities. She began volunteering for Welcome to Australia, becoming a committed participant in the Intercultural Futures Fellowship.
Through this organisation, Arefa set up the English Tea language program to create a safe and welcoming learning environment for older refugee women who don’t have access to traditional classes. With lessons taking place at home, students are finding a support network among other women of asylum seeker backgrounds and gaining confidence in integrating into wider Australian society.
Arefa has helped establish the Babar Mazari Foundation, which provides support for victims of violence and the education of disadvantaged children in her home country of Afghanistan – positively impacting the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. She is also dedicated to helping the Oaktree Foundation, driving an important campaign to end poverty.
Stephany Martin, 25, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards District Chair
As previous International Director of the Rotary Club of Campbelltown and current District Chair for the Rotary Youth Leadership Programs, Stephany Martin is committed to giving back to her community. Growing up in regional New South Wales, Stephany and her family suffered through drought and relocation during her final year of studies
After completing the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Program of Enrichment through Rotary, she moved to Adelaide to study law and join the local Rotary club, becoming the youngest member at just 18. Her passion for helping others has seen her successfully co-ordinate the International Women’s Day Dinners and a $60,000 development project in Fiji.
Through the Rotary Youth Leadership framework, she organises innovative programs for local young people and was recognised for her hard work with the Rotary District 9520 New Generations Best Project Award in 2017. She is now focused on using her legal knowledge to help youth who are disadvantaged by the court system.
Stephany continues to inspire young people as representative to the Rotary Australia Youth Forum.
Apiu Nyang, 18, ambassador for refugee youth
A proud South Sudanese Australian, Apiu Nyang is the Youth Ambassador for the Australian Refugee Association. Driven by a passion for her culture, she provides a voice to others, encouraging migrant youth to embrace their cultural identities and become leaders in their communities.
After attending an Australian Refugee Association Leadership Camp, Apiu became passionate about the plight of refugees and determined to be a force for change. She wrote a number of poems to articulate her concerns to a broad and engaged audience – and has been invited to perform these at key youth events across Australia.
Apiu has demonstrated her commitment to multiculturalism through her involvement in the formation and facilitation of Culture Club at her school – where students from varying cultures meet on a weekly basis to share and celebrate their experiences. She also co-ordinated the inaugural Cultural Diversity Day and was recently invited by the Adelaide Lord Mayor to discuss her ideas for creating a welcoming city for migrants.
AUSTRALIA'S LOCAL HERO CATEGORY
Reuben Burton, community leader and education advocate
Reuben Burton is an Anangu community leader, advocate and visionary who has inspired both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians of all ages. After volunteering for many years at youth and children’s camps in APY lands, he gained experience in health and policing – before moving into education.
Taking up the position of Anangu Education Co-ordinator at a local school, Reuben began working with the principal to produce academic papers centred around the issue of remote education. Now director of the APY Education Committee, he is committed to helping young Anangu people foster a sense of belonging and identity while strengthening their engagement with Western education, employment and leadership.
Reuben carries this vision across the many community roles he engages in: as football coach, church leader, and teacher. Through patience and understanding, he has established strong partner networks throughout the country, working closely with educational staff to challenge their cultural assumptions, and help bridge the divide between Anangu and other Australians.
Jelina Haines, artist and academic
Jelina Haines is an award-winning textile artist and academic who uses her local and international recognition to promote cultural harmony. Drawing on her experiences growing up in the remote mountains of the Philippines, Jelina forged a strong connection with the Ngarrindjeri community.
After volunteering on a series of ecology projects to restore land and culture to local families, Jelina began working with traditional weavers and volunteering at the local museum to archive artworks. She co-founded an art co-operative for reconciliation and cross-cultural exchange – creating an opportunity for international students to enjoy an intercultural experience each year.
Jelina is currently developing her PhD project: devising a secure software system to ethically record knowledge and stories from Aboriginal Elders. In addition to her own artistic contributions, she provides a platform for local artists to present their creative works and build small enterprises. Presenting regularly at conferences, Jelina carries her message of environmentalism, social justice and cultural respect in Australia and overseas.
Megan McLoughlin, advocate for organ donation
Megan McLoughlin is the founder of Herd of Hope, which promotes organ donation to schools and the wider community. The charity sought partnership with the University of South Australia to capture the need for mental health services for those regionally based affected by the cause.
Serious medical complications left Megan legally blind. Shortly after, she found herself with acute renal failure, she was given only weeks to live – until a transplant saved her life. Megan is one of 64 women in the world to deliver two children post double transplant. This year, she has faced two cancer diagnoses, yet continues to focus her energy on improving the lives of others.
In 2018, Megan overcame numerous setbacks to organise a cattle drive on Bondi Beach to launch the Herd of Hope – and planting a “tree of hope” as a tribute to families who have lost loved ones. Her passion and drive continue to inspire the donor community, fostering much-needed conversations around organ donation.
Chris Zeitz, pioneer in rural health services
An esteemed cardiologist, Associate Professor Chris Zeitz is committed to raising standards of rural and Indigenous health. In addition to being a key figure in the implementation and provision of emergency interventions for heart attack in South Australia, he has established an outreach service to serve rural and remote communities. Through CARDIA-SA, he and other cardiologists travel extensively across the state, to ensure local residents are able to access vital healthcare services.
Dr Zeitz has also created an innovative program combining therapies and monitoring to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease – a treatable condition that is prevalent among Indigenous Australians living in remote areas. By bringing his cardiology clinic directly to indigenous populations, he and his team have driven a major increase in preventative therapies across South Australia – saving countless lives.
With his dedication to improving public healthcare, Dr Zeitz has taken on key executive roles with SA Health. His leadership has enabled significant advancements to be made in the emergency treatment of heart attack patients.