Australians of the Year – in Conversation Event

  • 29 June 2021

Australian of the Year Exhibition

State Library of WA, 26 June 2021

Auspire was proud to host WA’s four Australian of the Year recipients “In Conversation” on Thursday 24 June, in partnership with the State Library of WA.

We welcomed Australian of the Year Alumni, Ambassadors and stakeholders to a VIP viewing of the Australian of the Year Exhibition, curated by the National Museum of Australia, and we were joined by members of the public for the opportunity to hear from the WA Australians of the Year.

Prof Helen Milroy (Australian of the Year), Dr Richard Walley (Senior Australian of the Year), Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (Local Hero) and Grace Forrest (Young Australian of the Year) shared their experiences and hopes for the future.

Grace Forrest, WA Young Australian of the Year, began and shared her personal experience that she grew up knowing that it’s a privilege to be an Australian and have access to education and basic human rights – certainly not a privilege that everyone is afforded. Her work at the Walkfree Foundation to eradicate modern slavery is her absolute passion. Grace encouraged us all to get behind sustainable businesses as a way to create an impact on the large multinationals.

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, WA Local Hero, spoke of how we’ve become a throwaway society and that plastics have become a symbol of that society with less than 12% being recycled. Rebecca’s Plastic Free July messaging has over 326 million people engaged internationally. She urged us all to consider the impact of single-use plastics and turn this behaviour around.

WA Senior Australian of the Year, Dr Richard Walley OAM acknowledged that the platform provided by receiving such an award is a wonderful opportunity to share his stories and opinions but that we should all be mindful of the challenge that awards bring. His analogy that “individuals are a mere thread in the tapestry of life” resonated strongly with everyone and he wisely added that “we should never forget who we are and where we come from” – a lesson for us all.

Professor Helen Milroy, WA Australian of the Year, drew on her experience in child mental health and stressed that children are no more immune to mental health issues than adults. Helen shared her view that childhood health is everyone’s business and that she hopes that we can all look back with pride on what we’ve done to enable children to be free to dream dreams and that we can celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.

A number of questions were presented by the audience with the final one being “What’s your call to action?” All speakers agreed that there are so many opportunities to engage in our community, to call out when something needs attention. Most importantly their consensus was that we can all start with one thing as you never know what the impact of that one thing will be.

The evening was a truly inspiring opportunity to hear from four incredible individuals and was live streamed so you may watch it here 

Our thanks go to Chevron Australia for its support as the National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards.

If you know someone who would inspire us, please nominate them for the 2022 Australian of the Year


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