WA 2023 Australian of the Year recipients announced

  • 15 November 2022

2023 WA Australian of the Year – Professor Samar Aoun

2023 WA Senior Australian of the Year – Theresa Kwok

2023 WA Young Australian of the Year – Peter Bol

2023 WA Local Hero – Jimmy Murphy

The 2023 WA Australians of the Year were announced last night (Monday 14 November) in a spectacular ceremony at Government House, aired live on ABC.

The evening began with an exclusive VIP event where the finalists were presented with their certificates from His Excellency the Honourable Chris Dawson APM, Governor of Western Australia.

All 250 guests then gathered together in the Supper Room for the Chevron Australia Welcome Reception, during which they enjoyed drinks, canapes and live music. They also heard from Peter McNally, Managing Counsel at Chevron Australia, the National Diversity and Inclusion Partner of the Australian of the Year Awards. Guests then proceeded to the Ballroom to take their seats for the live announcement.

The evening’s host, Geoff Hutchison, welcomed guests to the 2023 WA Australian of the Year Awards ceremony, before inviting Barry Winmar to the stage, where he delivered a beautiful Welcome to Country. Guests then enjoyed a rendition of the National Anthem, performed by Sherri and Chris Murphy.

Geoff introduced His Excellency the Honourable Chris Dawson APM to the stage, who welcomed everyone to his home, followed by words from Auspire – Australia Day Council WA Chairman, Bradley Woods.

The revealing of the four 2023 WA Australian of the Year recipients followed, announced by His Excellency the Honourable Chris Dawson APM. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Patrick Gorman, closed proceedings by congratulating the finalists and recipients.

The four WA recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national Australian of the Year Awards to be announced on 25 January 2023.

View images from the event here

Watch the full ceremony here

2023 WA Australian of the Year – Professor Samar Aoun

Professor Samar Aoun advocates for a person-centred approach to end-of-life care. She focuses on under-served groups such as those with motor neurone disease (MND) and dementia, terminally ill people who live alone and family carers.

As Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Western Australia, Samar is known as an international leader in the advocacy of public health approaches to palliative care.

Her work has strengthened the Compassionate Communities movement that mobilises and equips people to better support those facing death and bereavement.

As co-founder and chair of the South West Compassionate Communities Network, Samar also volunteers in roles including director on the MND Australia Board, president of the MND Association of WA and a board member of Palliative Care WA.

Among numerous awards, 63-year-old Samar received the Medal for Excellence from the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare in 2018 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 from Australia’s Prime Minister.

2023 WA Senior Australian of the Year – Theresa Kwok

With a background in social work, Theresa Kwok has been helping migrants settle in Australia from the moment she arrived from Hong Kong 35 years ago.

For most of this time, she has supported older migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities at Perth’s Chung Wah Community and Aged Care. Theresa is now CEO of the organisation, which delivers a range of community care programs for clients, their families and ethnic communities. She looks after about 800 clients.

Theresa helps elderly members of CALD communities to live independently and has created more equitable access to culturally appropriate migrant and aged-care services across all communities.

Recognised with multiple awards for her efforts, 68-year-old Theresa is constantly reshaping how aged and community care services are delivered to meet changing demands.

Her advocacy continues to raise awareness of the unique challenges and strengths of CALD older people within government, service providers and CALD communities.

2023 WA Young Australian of the Year – Peter Bol

Nagmeldin (Peter) Bol is a two-time Olympian, holds the current national 800m record, and in 2021 was the first Australian runner in 53 years to make it into an Olympic 800m final.

Peter and his family, originally from Sudan, arrived in Australia from Egypt when he was eight. His sporting talent was soon recognised with a sporting scholarship to Perth’s St Norbert College for basketball. When he was 16, a coach persuaded him to try athletics.

His running soon started getting him noticed and Peter debuted for Australia at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He became a household name at the Tokyo Games, held in 2021, where he won his semi-final and became the fastest-ever Australian over 800 metres.

When he’s not training or studying, 28-year-old Peter works as a coach, mentor and keynote speaker, aiming to help others achieve their dreams. His philanthropic efforts were recently recognised by Athletics Australia with the prestigious 2022 Peter Norman Humanitarian Award.

2023 WA Local Hero – Jimmy Murphy

Social entrepreneur James (Jimmy) Murphy founded the Town Team Movement to inspire and support people to be responsible for improving their communities. The non-profit social enterprise enables people and local government to connect, organise and act to regenerate neighbourhoods.

Jimmy uses Town Teams to advocate for more accessible and affordable community spaces that reflect the people who inhabit them. Residents, businesses and other community members are encouraged to form or join an existing Town Team group. Town Team Movement groups have held street festivals, run working bees, introduced street art, built community gardens, rewilded areas and created food co-ops.

Jimmy, 42, also co-founded Arts Impact WA, a philanthropic organisation that funds arts projects.

Jimmy’s practical, positive approach has spread from Western Australia across the nation and to New Zealand. There are now more than 108 Town Teams making the world better – one community at a time.

Images courtesy of Salty Dingo

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