2024 Australian of the Year Awards announced

  • 25 January 2024

Life-saving scientists who are curing Melanoma, an Indigenous teacher and cultural leader, a record-breaking Olympic swimmer and a man whose fossil find paved the way for the nation’s Dinosaur museum have been named as the 2024 Australians of the Year.

The Prime Minister, The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, announced the 2024 Australians of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero in a ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra this evening. The award recipients were presented with a glass trophy, a traditional Indigenous coolamon and clap sticks.

2024 Australians of the Year

Melanoma treatment pioneers Professor Georgina Long AO and Professor Richard Scolyer AO, both of Sydney, New South Wales.

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Professor Georgina Long AO and Professor Richard Scolyer AO’s enduring partnership has saved thousands of lives from melanoma, known as Australia’s national cancer. Less than a decade ago, advanced melanoma was fatal – but thanks to Georgina and Richard’s immunotherapy approach, which activates a patient’s own immune system, it has become a curable disease. The co-medical directors of Melanoma Institute Australia are sought-after media commentators and advocates for sun-safe behaviour and melanoma prevention.

In June 2023, when Richard (57) was diagnosed with incurable grade 4 brain cancer, he and Georgina (53) developed a series of world-first treatments based on their melanoma breakthroughs. Richard became the world’s first brain cancer patient to have pre-surgery combination immunotherapy. By undertaking an experimental treatment with risk of shortening his life, he has advanced the understanding of brain cancer and is benefiting future patients. Richard has generated widespread public interest by publicly documenting his own cancer treatment and progress.

2024 Senior Australian of the Year

Teacher, linguist and community leader, Yalmay Yunupiŋu, of Yirrkala, Northern Territory.

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Gentle, generous and funny – Yalmay Yunupiŋu touches many lives in north-east Arnhem Land. As a teacher and linguist, she guided teaching at Yirrkala Bilingual School for four decades, retiring in March 2023.

Often called the mother of the school, Yalmay started by translating Dr Seuss books at the community library into her local Yolŋu Matha language. She qualified as a teacher and, with her husband (the late M Yunupiŋu of Yothu Yindi fame and the 1992 Australian of the Year), forged a bilingual teaching approach to make young people strong in their Yolŋu language and culture.

A respected elder, 68-year-old Yalmay is in constant demand for consultations, projects and her traditional healing work. She helps everyone, always with a smile on her face.

In 2005, she was awarded a ‘Teacher of Excellence’ by the Northern Territory Department of Education and was an Honorary University Fellow at the Charles Darwin University. Since retiring, she has been teaching the next generation about traditional healing.

2024 Young Australian of the Year

Australia’s most successful Olympian ever, Emma McKeon AM, of the Gold Coast, Queensland.

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Emma McKeon AM is the most successful Australian Olympian of all time – a title she claimed before her 28th birthday. She comes from a strong family of Australian swimmers. In fact, her father, uncle, brother and mother have all represented Australia.

Back in 2012, Emma just missed out on being chosen for the London Olympics. She took a break, but rediscovered her passion and went on to make a splash at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she claimed six medals from six races.

At the 2020 Summer Olympics, Emma became the first female swimmer and the second woman in history to win seven medals in a single Olympics. She has also broken Commonwealth Games, Olympic and World records.

Now aged 29, Emma has other titles to her name. In 2022 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2023 she was named Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year.

2024 Australia’s Local Hero

Co-founder of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History, David Elliott OAM, of Winton, Queensland.

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David Elliott OAM’s chance discovery of a dinosaur fossil during routine sheep mustering in 1999 led to the revival of Australia’s palaeontology field – and the creation of a palaeo-tourism industry that put outback Queensland on the map.

David’s initial fossil discovery was followed by others. As palaeontologists began to return to the region to investigate, David and his wife Judy founded the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in 2002 as a not-for-profit charity.

The Museum first operated on the couple’s property, where they conducted dinosaur digs and built an impressive collection of fossils. Later, it was moved onto donated land. Today, it houses Australia’s most significant collection of fossils from the country’s largest dinosaurs. A major tourist attraction, it serves as a centre for Australian paleontological research and discovery in Australia.

David, now 66, was recognised for his contributions to science with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2015.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards and to nominate someone you know for the 2025 Awards, visit

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