Inspiring Australians’ Network
Engaging and Inspiring leadership in citizenship.
The Inspiring Australians’ Network consists of a group of outstanding Australians and include finalists and recipients of the Australian of the Year Awards and our wonderful Auspire Ambassadors. These are sportspeople, scientists, business people, actors, social activists, multicultural leaders and community champions who provide inspiration by sharing their stories of resilience, effort, passion, triumph over adversity, and commitment to their cause.
During the year our Alumni and Ambassadors volunteer their time and energy to participate in our initiatives designed to focus on the concepts of community leadership, social inclusion, reconciliation, diversity, civics and citizenship; all important community-strengthening themes.
Activities may include:
- Attending Local Government and community celebrations on Australia Day. A day to share stories. To Reflect, Respect and Celebrate.
- Visits to schools to support our Aussie of the Month Education Programs
- Forums during Harmony Week with local communities to promote equality, diversity and strength in our multicultural Australia
- At various NAIDOC Week events to encourage and inspire truth of our history in story-telling, celebration of culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- At our Reconciliation Week activities
- During Volunteering Week to promote and encourage connectedness and community engagement
- Speaking at Auspire forums, workshops and masterclasses delivered for culturally and linguistically diverse communities
- At our youth leadership forums to promote and encourage leadership.
Our Inspiring Australian’s Network gathers several times a year to connect, share stories and find opportunities to collaborate on projects as well as to hear from other thought provoking leaders.
Finalist, WA Australian of the Year 2019
As an ophthalmologist, Director of Lions Outback Vision and Associate Professor at The University of Western Australia, Dr Angus Turner strives to end blindness and vision loss across rural and remote Australia.
With blindness rates three times higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous Australians, Angus delivers specialist outreach services to communities across the state. A passionate advocate for closing the gap for Aboriginal patients and a mentor for young ophthalmology students, he sees medicine as a vocation.
Under Angus’ leadership, in 2017 Lions Outback Vision conducted over 7,000 eye consultations across 20 communities, using innovative models of service delivery, including telehealth and a ‘Vision Van’ to transport the necessary equipment to each community.
In addition to his work at home, Angus regularly has volunteered his expertise to communities in South Africa, holding fundraising events to pay for the equipment and medicine he takes with him.
Finalist, WA Australian of the Year 2011.
Director of Angelhands.
Dr Ann O’Neill is an inspiration. Her story of triumph over severe hardship and her commitment to improving the lives of others is one that should be shared. She is able to deliver funny, engaging and well-structured presentations that will not only inspire your audience but equip them with tools to overcome and thrive personally and professionally.
Ann fills a variety of roles across the community and therefore she has an innate ability to engage with any audience in any format.
Ann is very proud to have been an Australia Day Ambassador for seven years.
Young Australian of the Year (WA) Finalist.
Suicide Prevention Advocate.
Ashlee Harrison is the 2016 Young Western Australian of the Year. She was recognised for her role as the CEO & Founder of mental health charity; zero2hero Inc. Ashlee is also the Director of social media company; Social Say and a safeTALK suicide prevention facilitator.
Ashlee created the Charity at the age of 21 before commencing her Commerce degree at Curtin, and during her 10 years working in the mental health sector has partnered with organisations such as Lifeline, Suicide Prevention Australia and Foundation for Young Australians.
Recently recognised by the Australian Financial Review as one of Australia’s 100 Woman of Influence, Ashlee and a team of staff and volunteers reach over 80,000 young Western Australian’s every year.
Ashlee has also been awarded a Pride of Australia Medal in 2015, won the WA Youth Award for Education in 2013 and in the same year was also a Young Australian of the Year finalist.
Brian Greedy is an award winning professional speaker who makes a difference with inspiring and motivational messages for all Australians. He draws from over 20 years highly successful business background, including early experience in accounting, marketing and corporate management with Australia’s market leader in electrical appliance manufacturing and distribution.
Brian has been a business development consultant since 1988 and now works with many of Australia’s top 100 companies and leading franchise groups.
He has been an Australia Day Ambassador for several years and delivers practical and motivational ideas to educate, entertain and energise Australians to build a better future and value the country we all enjoy.
Western Australia’s Local Hero, 2019
Founder: Kaat, Koort and Hoops
Executive Director: Pindi Pty Ltd
Wadjuk traditional owner, Curtin University Professor, children’s author and mother-of-three, Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, is passionate about helping children build their confidence and improve their social, physical and emotional wellbeing – through sport.
In 2015, the ex-state and Women’s National Basketball League player launched the basketball lifestyle program Kaat, Koort and Hoops. Translating as head, heart and hoops, the after-school basketball lifestyle program aims to build sporting confidence – providing a boost to participants’ self-esteem. By 2018, 250 children had participated in the program.
A highly accomplished woman committed to social development, Cheryl completed a PhD in 2000 at Edith Cowan University, exploring urban Aboriginal children’s self-identity and self-esteem in the school sporting setting.
She is a voluntary member of not-for-profit Koya Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal-controlled and owned organisation, which provides services including training, employment, professional development and cultural security audits. In 2014, she founded Pindi Pty Ltd Centre for Research Excellence in Aboriginal Wellbeing in 2014, where she is executive director.
Australian of the Year (WA) Finalist 2016
The daughter of Western Australia’s first Aboriginal teacher and school principal, Colleen Hayward has devoted her life to education.
As the head of Edith Cowan University’s Kurongkurl Katitjin Centre for Indigenous Education and Research, Colleen has been an inspiration not just to her own people, but to all Australians. She has made an enduring academic contribution through her work across a range of fields including education, human rights and children’s health and volunteers on boards focused on health, leadership, social justice and Indigenous affairs.
After commencing her career as a classroom teacher, Colleen’s journey took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that left her unable to teach or have children of her own. Overcoming her illness, Colleen was determined to become a role model for Aboriginal students.
With inspiring exuberance and an enthusiasm for lifelong learning, Colleen reminds us that the values of integrity and hard work can achieve greatness.
Non-profit organization leader and workforce diversity specialist.
Conrad Liveris is a workforce diversity specialist, advising leading organisations and business people on how to realise inclusion. His approach to management and diversity considers economic, political and risk issues.
His current research crosses the following areas: labour market participation, flexible working practice and effects, board/management composition and remuneration, intergenerational finances and gender pay gaps.
Conrad has extensive media experience as an expert and writer, his work has appeared in The Australian, ABC, Financial Review, Sky News, Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The West Australian, Buzzfeed and WAtoday in Australia. Internationally, he is found in Singapore’s Straits Times, Xinhua and the South China Morning Post in China/Hong Kong; The Advocate and The Hill in the US.
His efforts professionally and in the community have been acknowledged by the Prime Minister of Australia and in 2015 he was appointed an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society (London).
Young Australian of the Year (WA) Finalist
Road Safety Advocate and Charity Fundraiser
At just 17, Cory Payne and his family’s lives were changed forever after a single vehicle accident on Great Northern Highway as he was driving home to his family’s farm in New Norcia. Cory spent 16 days in an induced coma and more than a year in rehabilitation.
Cory was left with memory issues and a slight paralysis to the entire right side of his body. He spent three months in hospital and had to re-learn to walk and talk. His family were also deeply affected by his accident.
Cory now shares his story at sports clubs and high schools helping to raise road safety awareness, warning drivers not to be complacent, take unnecessary risks, drive tired or drive under the influence.
Cory also raises money for charities by entering fun runs. He completed his 20th fun run in 2019, raising a total of $65,000. Cory received the Insurance Commission of Western Australia Regional Safety Award in July 2018.
Founder – Regions of Africa
Cynthia is a Social Entrepreneur, a Social Care Corporate Manager, and founder of the social enterprise Regions of Africa (RoA) and its partner organisation CaLD Impact. Cynthia is currently a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a publisher of various articles on Resilience, Migration, International Education, and Aged Care.
Cynthia is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world by creating leaders. Her success in her Career and Business comes down to her ability to build and maintain partnerships and collaborations; Cynthia’s success in business and in life is attributed by the connections she creates with others and the extent to which she can give and receive. She has created success in her roles as Clinical Consultant in Corporate Australia, with eleven years’ experience in the Aged care industry and five years in Business Management. Outside her Social care passion and channelling in her creative space, Cynthia has also created success roles as Chief Operating Officer of the skilled Migrant Professional Magazine with over 13K subscribers, editor-in-chief of Australia’s very first African fashion magazine “Face of Africa Australia Magazine”; creative director in collaboration with numerous well-known Australian fashion photographers, models, and modelling agencies; and in community engagement welfare programs such as “Education in the Shoes of a Humanitarian Student”. She is the 2016 -2017 Chairperson for the Organisation of Zambians Living in Western Australia (OZALIWA) with 4500 Zambians in WA.
Cynthia is described by her peers as driven, dynamic, and professional. Her strong leadership is strengthened by collaborating with other passionate and focused individuals. Her leadership is strengthened by her communication and negotiation skills as well as her ability to remain calm under pressure. She manages multiple teams and leads with a focus to motivate and empower by creating more leaders, change makers, listening, and discussing new ideas.
Founder of Dreamfit Foundation and GreenBatch.
CEO of Bloom.
WA Young Australian of the Year 2007.
Darren Lomman is passionate about improving quality of life for people with disabilities and enabling them to participate in life to the maximum. He was the CEO of the Dreamfit Foundation which he founded as a teenager in 2003 whilst completing his mechanical engineering at The University of Western Australia. Darren designed hundreds of new inventions and pieces of equipment enabling thousands of people with disabilities to participate in all sorts of activities. He is currently the CEO of Bloom, an organisation supporting and encouraging young people in developing their entrepreneurial skills to benefit the wider community.
His latest passion project is Greenbatch, a plastic recycling start-up.
Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategist
Award Winning Social Justice Advocate
Fadzi Whande is an award winning Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategist and Social Justice Advocate. Her work primarily focuses on addressing systemic and institutionalised barriers held towards historically underrepresented groups. She has worked across the not for profit, government and business sectors in Africa, Australia, UK and USA. She currently works as the Principal Consultant Workforce Diversity for the Public Sector Commission.
Over the course of her career Fadzi has received both international and local recognition for her efforts to champion inclusion and diversity including the 2019 Social Impact Award from the Organisation of African Communities, a finalist in the 2018 Western Australian of the Year and a recipient of the 2016 International Racial Equity Leadership Award in the USA.
Fadzi sits on the Board of Volunteering WA, the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance and is an Ambassador for 100 Women.
Fadzi is an alumna of the 2019 Duke of Edinburgh Commonwealth Senior Leadership Program, UK the 2017 HIVE Global Leadership Program, USA and the 2017 Leadership WA Signature Program. She received an Executive MBA and Graduate Certificate in Social Impact from the University of Western Australia.
Professor Fiona Wood’s journey of over 3 decades treating people with burn injuries is a story about her passion, dedication and belief in striving for excellence to improve the outcomes of patients by bringing science to the bedside.
Fiona is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon specialising in the field of burn care, trauma and scar reconstruction.
As Director of the WA Burns Service of Western Australia she is consultant at Perth Children’s and Fiona Stanley Hospitals.
As director of burns research she leads an interdisciplinary team with broad collaboration focused on translation to improve clinical outcomes.
She has been the recipient of the 2003 Australian Medical Association ‘Contribution to Medicine’ Award and an Order of Australia Medal for work with Bali bombing victims. As a National Living Treasure and Australian Citizen of the Year in 2004. she received the honour of being named Australian of the Year in 2005.
Fiona and Marie Stoner, co-founders of Clinical Cell Culture, now Avitamedical, won the 2005 Clunies Ross Award for their contributions to Medical Science in Australia.
WA Senior Australian of the Year 2016.
While serving in Vietnam in 1970, Graham Edwards was hit by an exploding mine. Both his legs had to be amputated, but he never let his disability get the better of him. Returning to civilian life, he battled the aftershocks of war and fought discrimination before moving into public affairs and politics.
Spending 14 years of service in the WA Legislative Council, including as a senior minister and nine years in the federal parliament, Graham actively contributed to defence, disability services and veterans’ policy.
More recently, as State President of the Returned & Services League of Australia, Graham oversaw a membership base of 10,000 people, sat by bedsides, lobbied government for funding and organised large events to commemorate the sacrifice made by many, particularly for the 2015 Centenary of Gallipoli.
A board member of the Australian War Memorial, Graham is ensuring that the nation’s war heroes gain the recognition they deserve.
Finalist, WA Local Hero 2020
Child Protection Advocate
For more than 27 years, Managing Director of Safe4Kids Holly-ann Martin has helped keep Western Australian children safe from childhood sexual abuse. As a volunteer at a school for children with special needs in 1985, Holly-ann and her colleagues realised the children were vulnerable to sexual abuse, so they taught them about body safety.
Later, in 1995, Holly-ann received formal training while working as a teaching assistant in the US-developed Protective Behaviours program. This further ignited her desire to dedicate her life to protecting children. So in 2007, she resigned from the WA Education Department to pursue her passion. She and her husband founded the new business by re-mortgaging their home, using part of these funds to produce educational resources for parents and teachers.
Safe4kids now works to protect children all over the world developing quality, up-to-date child-abuse prevention education resources. Inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016, Holly-ann’s whole-of-community approach to child abuse prevention is inspiring.
WA Young Australian of the Year Finalist 2018.
Social Entrepreneur and Humanitarian.
Founder of DrawHistory.
Born in Jakarta, Jeffrey Effendi was just seven when his family, who are Chinese-Indonesian, fled the country’s mass race riots.
Today, this social entrepreneur is using the power of human-centered stories to deepen empathy, create dialogue on contemporary issues and spark positive change.
As the founder of DrawHistory, a social impact brand agency, Jeffrey has helped over 100 not-for-profit initiatives tell their stories by designing social brands and campaigns that rally people and funding to important causes. In fostering further open conversations, Jeffrey also leads the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community in Perth and advises The Humanitarian Group to bring light to challenges such as the gender gap and global refugee crisis.
Jeffrey is a former UNICEF youth ambassador and is tackling society’s most important issues, from health and sustainability to education and inclusion. Jeffrey is delighted and extremely proud to be an Australia Day Ambassador.
Finalist, WA Senior Australian of the Year 2020
Theatre Maker and Innovator
Jenny Davis OAM is the founder and Artistic Director of Agelink Theatre, a company making theatre works that affirm the value of senior citizens, celebrating their wisdom and experience.
With a passion for arts innovation and championing the lives of seniors, Jenny has combined theatre, education and community health, through a pioneering intergenerational theatre program that engages younger and older people. By interviewing seniors and creating stage shows based on their memories, she records local histories and provides stimulus for those living with dementia.
Agelink also creates stimulating workshops for people with dementia and celebrates them on stage, giving them a platform to share their stories with the next generations. Seniors shows are performed in theatres and at libraries, schools and senior centres.
Jenny has received many accolades for her tremendous contribution to the seniors and arts communities, including an Order of Australia Medal, Centenary of Federation Medal, 2017 WA Champion Senior of the Year and WA Women’s Hall of Fame induction.
Jenny was born in Queensland, raised in Sydney and later moved to WA with her family and has been here 15 years.
She is a dynamic entrepreneur and as of August 2018 is the business owner of 5 businesses she started by herself. Generation Marketing Group (GMG), Generous Foods, CustomerCare, Jenny Lam Network and the popular Vietnamese eatery located in Leederville, Bunn Mee.
Having graduated high school in 2006 and earning a placement at UWA to begin her commerce degree, Jenny embarked on a journey to climb the corporate ladder to carve out a successful career for herself in marketing and advertising. After two years at university she realised that university wasn’t the path for her, she wanted something more hands on, fast paced and that allowed her to call the shots. She started working for a direct sales and marketing company working on commission only and 12 months after her stint in the company, she decided to take the plunge and open up her own marketing company. Fast forward nine years GMG has gone from a small start up to working with international, billion dollar clients like Alinta and now specialises in marketing consultancy for other well established businesses and clients.
Having successfully navigated her way through the marketing and sales industry, GMG’s best year turning over $11,000,000, in 2017 she decided she was ready to follow another passion of hers – FOOD & COOKING. Joining the 13,000 people that auditioned for Masterchef Australia 2018, she became a part of Season 10’s top 24.
Since leaving MasterChef, she’s worked as a full-time chef at Perth’s acclaimed Wildflower, gained work experience at Long Chim all whilst managing her businesses and writing her Vietnamese cookbook – Eat Like a Viet, which is due to be released in November 2019.
Jenny’s values are to always spread joy, educate, coach and inspire others in both food and business. Her ultimate goal is opening up her own cooking school, which will be built on a big property in the Swan Valley, where she will also farm all her own produce by 2025 and achieving a spot on the Forbes 40 Under 40 List.
Judith Fordham commenced her career in science, studied law, then founded and ran her own law firm for far too long. She then practiced as a barrister, and is also an Associate Professor at the Centre for Forensic Science, University of Western Australia, teaching scientists about the legal system and lawyers and police the basics of forensic science.
She is a past President of the Australian & New Zealand Association for Psychiatry, Psychology & Law (WA), past President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of WA, past President of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society (WA).
Judith is now in a multidisciplinary partnership with Steve Roast, a former Detective Superintendent and head of Commercial Crime Squad.
Judith has been honoured to serve as an Australia Day Ambassador each year from 2012, has been awarded an honorary life membership of Angelhands (a support group for secondary victims of homicide), and her law practice Fordham & Roast won the WA 2015 Telstra Micro-Business Award.
Finalist, WA Local Hero 2020
Founder of Happiness Co and public speaker
In just three short years, government health worker Julian Pace lost his father, his best friend and then his cousin – all to suicide. Devastated by his loss, Julian fell apart. Then, using a mix of medical and self-help including diet, exercise, and practicing gratitude, he rebuilt his life.
Determined to turn his pain into purpose, Julian became an ambassador for R U OK. He then launched the social enterprise Happiness Co. Through workshops, webinars, online and face-to-face programs for individuals, organisations and teams, Julian’s programs help people address the causes of unhappiness, so they can create lives they truly want.
Happiness Co also includes the Man Enough program, which aims to help reduce the shocking rate of male suicide in Australia by supporting men to develop the tools they need to overcome life’s challenges.
Now living with happiness and purpose, Julian is helping more than 50,000 people do the same, showing by example that it’s possible to turn life around.
WA Senior Australian of the Year 2018
Women’s Health Champion
Facing a radical gynaecological cancer diagnosis at the age of 39, Kathleen Mazzella was convinced she was alone. In her search to find someone else facing the same experience, Kath placed an ad in Woman’s Day, receiving responses from women all over Australia who felt the same sense of isolation and embarrassment.
Determined to connect and empower other women, and to reduce the stigma and squeamishness around women’s health, Kath established the Perth-based Gynaecological Awareness Information Network.
Since then, Kath has become a voice for the millions of Australian women managing polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, sexually transmitted diseases, hysterectomies and more. At the core of her work is a straight-talking message: embarrassment around gynaecological issues risks lives. Kath breaks down the social stigma by sharing her journey and challenges, and promoting a positive preventative message.
Twenty-three years after her initial diagnosis, Kath has not only survived, but thrived and dedicated her life to ensuring no other woman suffers in silence.
Relationships and Inclusion Consultant
A country girl and Anthropologist, Katie is passionate about community, technology and human connection. She is an engaging facilitator and human centred designer who strongly believes in putting people at the centre of any intervention intended to positively impact their lives. Her work focusses on crafting contexts for people to come together to create localised solutions to complex social problems.
Katie graduated from Manjimup Senior High School in 2003, before moving to Perth to attend university. She has a Bachelor of Arts (double major in Psychology) and Graduate Diploma in Arts (Anthropology & Sociology) with Honours and is a PhD Candidate at UWA, where she is researching the lived experiences of care workers engaged through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Katie is also involved with the Ageing and New Media Collaborative Research Project, which is exploring how support networks for older people can be meaningfully enhanced through the use of digital technologies.
Having worked in the community sector since 2010, Katie has rich history of working with diverse population groups experiencing disconnection, isolation and exclusion. She has worked with people experiencing homelessness, people with a disability and people experiencing mental illness, both in grass roots and project roles. She has also had the privilege of working with Traditional Owners living in the Central Desert in Western Australia.
Katie currently works as a Consultant with Befriend Inc., a Perth-Based Social Enterprise that exists to break down the barriers that perpetuate social exclusion and isolation and spark connection for all people, from all walks of life. Katie works with community sector staff and organisations to design and implement grounded, effective and sustainable approaches to enable service users to live good lives as valued citizens.
Principal Policy Officer and Human Rights Advocate
Finalist – WA Young Australian of the Year 2012 & 2015
A 28 year old Noongar woman, Krista Dunstan is a human rights and reconciliation advocate in her community of Perth. Krista believes in giving back to the community and is passionate about ensuring that all Australians are given a “fair go”.
Krista grew up in Esperance and relocated to Perth in 2008 to undertake a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Western Australia. Having completed her degree, she practiced as a solicitor for 5 years before moving to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage as a Principal Policy Officer. Krista devotes her spare time to mentoring youth and developing and participating in forums which bring Australians together to generate new ideas for the success and sustainability of our communities.
Krista is a board member of Celebrate WA, the WA Cricket Association’s Aboriginal Cricket Advisory Committee, Noongar Charitable Trust and Richmond Wellbeing. In recognition of her hard work and commitment to community issues, Krista was inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011, awarded the Human Rights Awards Young People’s Medal in 2012, listed in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence Young Leader category in 2013 and a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in both the Corporate & Private and Young Business Woman categories in 2015 and received lawyer of the year awards in 2017 and 2018.
Krista has also represented our great state in international forums including the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program in 2015, Child Rights Taskforce and UNICEF delegation to the United Nations reporting on Australia’s progress under the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2011; as an Australian delegate to the Harvard Model United Nations (Harvard MUN) in the United States in 2010.
In late 2013, Krista completed a 134km trek of the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea as a Youth Leader on the Kokoda Youth Leadership Trek for Clubs WA. This is one of her proudest achievements as her grandfather served in Papua New Guinea and the track itself was both physically and mentally challenging.
Australian of the Year (WA) 2015.
For Professor Lyn Beazley, science has been a lifelong passion. After graduating from Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, Lyn has dedicated more than 30 years to the field of neuroscience.
As Chief Scientist of Western Australia from 2006 to 2013, Lyn advised the state government on science, innovation and technology as well as fulfilling the role of science ambassador both in Australia and internationally.
Professor Beazley was an inaugural inductee of the WA Women’s Hall of Fame and is also a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Giving in recognition of her enthusiastic philanthropy promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the WA community.
Lyn was also honoured to be inducted into the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame. Lyn’s goal is for every Australian child to learn and love science.
Finalist, WA Australian of the Year 2019
Surgeon & Mentor
As a senior surgeon at St John of God Hospital in Perth, Dr Michael Levitt has helped more than 50 overseas doctors’ transition to life and work in Australia, through his mentoring and care.
Michael helps migrant doctors at the hospital with their educational and registration needs – and provides appreciated personal support as they adjust to a new country and culture.
In a profession that’s been in the media spotlight for its harsh treatment of junior doctors, Michael is an advocate for fair treatment, career support and a workplace free from bullying and humiliation. A dedicated mentor, he has guided young medical practitioners with a deep sense of care and commitment.
As a former president of the Carmel School Board, a Modern Orthodox Jewish school in Perth, Michael has performed a pivotal role in the leadership within the Jewish community. With wisdom, compassion and good humour, he successfully led the school through numerous challenges.
CEO, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Nilesh Makwana is a technology CEO and entrepreneur dedicated to making a social impact through his business and community activities. He focuses his efforts on workplace diversity, social inclusion and digital literacy. Nilesh works tirelessly to improve business and social causes through collaboration and diplomacy. Perhaps his greatest strength is identifying how business, government, academia and community can collaborate in mutually beneficial ways.
Nilesh is the CEO of illuminance Solutions, a national technology company he co-founded with his business partner, Vincent Lam. The company is a Microsoft Gold Partner for Social Impact and provides technology consulting and professional services throughout Australia. Under Nilesh’s leadership, illuminance has created software products to fill a gap in support for those living with disability, Indigenous Native title trusts and corporations, and the elderly.
Nilesh’s community activities are driven by a focus on empathy and creating social impact for the betterment of society. He has worked tirelessly to eliminate the digital literacy gap in Indigenous communities and throughout regional Western Australia by providing countless hours of free technical training. Nilesh is the founder of West Tech Assemblage, an event for tech leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators to promote cross-industry collaboration. With his wife, Lene, he co-founded Borderless Gandhi, a non-profit organisation promoting Gandhi’s message of peace, equality and nonviolence through various artistic reflections and social media.
To fulfil his personal philosophy of “living life with purpose every day”, Nilesh dedicates time to several boards and committees, speaks frequently on the topics of workplace diversity and social inclusion, and participates in diplomatic activities to bring Australia and his home country of India closer together. Nilesh is also a frequent media commentator in local, state, and national publications.
Lawyer, Charity Fundraiser.
Patti Chong studied law at the University of Western Australia and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws in 1980. Patti was articled to the Director of Legal Aid and was admitted to practice in December 1981.
In November 2004, Patti was appointed the inaugural General Counsel to the Corruption and Crime Commission.She held this appointment until December 2005 when she returned to the Office of DPP.
Patti had been involved extensively in fund raising for the Leukaemia Foundation, sat on a number of Law Society Committees and was, for a number of years, on the Committee of Women Lawyers’ Association.
On behalf of the Women Lawyers’ Association, Patti was instrumental in organising the collection of pre-loved clothes from women lawyers and staff for donation to the Banksia Pre-release Centre to assist women prisoners prepare themselves for job interviews, attendance in Court and release upon prison, by having appropriate clothes for such occasions.
In 2005, Patti was named as one of Lotterywest’s 21 Inspirational West Australians. In 2006, Patti was appointed the Ambassador of the Leukaemia Foundation. Patti was one of Western Australia’s inaugural Australia Day Ambassadors when the program launched in 2008.
Priya Cooper defeated cerebral palsy to become one of Australia’s leading Paralympians. By 1995, at the age of 21, she held the world record for the 50m and 100m freestyle events and in 1996 the world record for the 400m and 800m freestyle and 100m backstroke.
Priya has been given the keys to the City of Sydney, appointed a member of the State Government committee, established to co-ordinate the Western Australian celebrations for the centenary of Federation in 2001, named Australia’s 1995 Paralympian of the Year and inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions in 2006. In 1999, Priya was named The Young Australian of the Year for Sport over Pat Rafter and Ian Thorpe, both finalists for the title.
In October 2015 Priya was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Priya is proud to have been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2009.
WA Australian of the Year 2010.
Professor Ralph Martins AO is well-known and highly respected both nationally and internationally as a prominent researcher in Ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
In recognition of his outstanding research achievements, Professor Martins was awarded a number of very prestigious accolades, including the Melvin Jones Award from Lions Club International Foundation USA in 2010 (which is the highest Award that Lions can bestow recognising outstanding service to the community and being one of only two recipients of this award by the Club in the last 25 years), the WA Australian of the Year in 2010, the Western Australian Citizen of the Year in 2011, the Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club in 2011, Member of the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (KSJ) in 2013 and the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the General Division in 2013.
Professor Martins is very proud to have been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2011.
Rick Newnham is the Chief Economist at the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the State’s peak business organisation representing 9,200 business members. As Chief Economist, Rick is responsible for identifying and advocating ways to improve the WA economy to make our state a world leading place in which to live and do business.
Prior to taking up the role of Chief Economist, Rick was a Commercial Negotiator for the world’s largest LNG producer, Royal Dutch Shell.
In 2011 Rick was named as Young Western Australian of the Year for founding the nation’s youth-led and non-partisan think-tank, named “Left Right”.
More recently, he has been recognised internationally by the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper. He completed his undergraduate business studies at The University of Western Australia and post-graduate studies at Oxford University where he won the prize for the best thesis.
An Australia Day Ambassador since 2012 with a brief period overseas, Rick was very proud to return to the program in 2017.
Dr Rishelle Hume AM
Diversity and Inclusion Business Advisor Eurasia Pacific – Chevron Office of Global Diversity and Ombuds
Rishelle Hume is a proud Noongar Woman with traditional ties to the Whadjuk, Ballardong and Gnaala Karla Boodja peoples. She is the current Diversity and Inclusion Business Advisor Eurasia Pacific with the Chevron Corporate Office Global Diversity, Inclusion and Ombuds.
Rishelle has over 25 plus years’ experience in Aboriginal engagement ranging from employment, education, justice and health. She is actively involved in the Aboriginal community within the Perth region. Rishelle has added value to Aboriginal advancement in WA by demonstrating Aboriginal leadership and is seen as a professional figurehead within WA to approach to engage the Aboriginal communities and coordinating approaches in dealing with these state Aboriginal matters.
Rishelle is a recipient of the 2016 Western Australian of the Year Award – Aboriginal Category Winner, an inductee into the 2017 Little Athletics Australia Roll of Excellence (Hall of Fame) in the Achievers Category, an inaugural inductee on the 2018 WA Roll of Excellence in the Achievers Category for Little Athletics WA. 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours Roshelle was appointment a Member of the Order of Australia AM division. In 2019 she was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame for her service to the Aboriginal community and received the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy 2020 Outstanding Woman in Resources Award and recently was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Edith Cowan University.
Marathon Swimmer and Business Speaker.
To most West Australians Shelley Taylor-Smith is known for her amazing athletic achievements.
Regardless of being tagged with ‘no natural ability’, ‘disabled’ and ‘nothing above average’, 7-time World No.1 Women’s Marathon Swimming Champion Shelley Taylor-Smith is the only woman to achieve No.1 world ranking for both men and women in the history of any sport worldwide.
A 2-time West Australian of the Year – Australian of the Year Finalist (1989 & 1991) and nicknamed ‘Dangerous When Wet’ by her competitors (and apt title of her biography); Shelley believes anyone can achieve the impossible with the right combination of Mindset, Motivation & Mental Toughness.
And still the only West Australian swimmer, male or female, to win a gold medal and be crowned World Champion at FINA Swimming Championships
Shelley’s greatest personal achievement is not a title or an award. It is the result of her achieving the No.1 world ranking for both men and women that lead to the governing body creating equal prize money for men and women and separate rankings that is her global legacy for women.
Steph got her first taste of advocating for her peers in high school, and she hasn’t stopped advocating for young people since.
As a participant in the annual Western Australian YMCA Youth Parliament program, Steph experienced the empowerment and confidence that comes from being able to speak up for what you believe in.
Steph is involved in a number of youth and community initiatives, and particularly likes to use her infectious enthusiasm to bring other young people in on things she’s involved in.
Steph has also been a member of the judging panel for the Australian of the Year Awards.
Steph has been an Australia Day Ambassador for Newman (Shire of East Pilbara) and Wyndham (Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley) and is thrilled to be a little closer to home in 2018.
WA Local Hero 2016
During his 32 year career with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), Dr Stephen Langford has saved countless lives and eased tremendous suffering.
Starting at the front line in 1983, Stephen was astounded to discover the limited resources available within the RFDS. Working tirelessly over many years, Stephen introduced dozens of innovations, from treatment preventing premature birth to ultrasound diagnostic capabilities, special transfer equipment for heavy patients, and blood clot-busting drugs for heart patients.
Tackling the tyranny of distance, Stephen campaigned for a fast Hawker 800 jet, transforming how emergency medical teams could respond to remote incidents – some of which were 2,000 kilometres from the nearest hospital.
Now the Medical Director of the RFDS in Western Australia, Stephen has made a tremendous impact on health in remote Indigenous communities.
A recent study confirms that patients who are badly injured in remote Western Australia have significantly higher chances of survival if they receive early medical care from Stephen’s team.
Cross of Valour recipient.
On 12 October 2002, following a terrorist bombing in Bali, Constable Timothy Britten placed his life in danger by repeatedly entering the burning Sari Club to rescue a seriously injured woman and to search for survivors.
Constable Britten remained at the site helping Indonesian police and security guards, and only when he felt assured that emergency workers had the Sari Club site secured did he return to his hotel. On that night, Constable Britten selflessly placed himself in constant danger, sustaining burns to his arm, deep cuts and abrasions to his feet from explosion debris, potential injury from gas cylinder explosions, and exposure to deadly infection from blood-borne diseases.
By his actions, Constable Britten displayed most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.
Tim Britten has been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2016.
Finalist, Australian of the Year 2012 (Victoria)
Since the age of 14, Tori Anderson has seen injustice and inequality as personal challenges that must be tackled and overcome. Whilst still at university she joined the Australian Chapter of an international youth leadership organisation called AIESEC, and then went on to establish and become national president of AIESEC in Pakistan. Confronted with oppression and poverty, Tori’s passion for the rights of women and children was ignited.
This determination to drive change took her to Afghanistan to support gender diversity, to India where she developed micro-credit schemes for women and to Canada and the United States. Her experiences prompted her to establish a not for profit organisation that campaigns against the sexual exploitation of children. Moving to Bangkok, Tori began a global awareness campaign which included funding and producing the documentary Corridors of Children exposing the rampant child sex-trade industry operating across South East Asia.
She is a Rotary World Peace Fellow and was a 2012 Victorian Australian of the Year Finalist.
Tori has recently returned to Perth and is the Director of Philanthropy and Enterprise at Anglicare WA.
WA Australian of the Year 2015 Finalist.
Despite a childhood of extreme hardship, Professor Yogesan Kanagasingam has become a world-renowned scholar, innovator and champion, who is bringing eye care to the doorsteps of under-served populations.
Today, as the Research Director of the Australian e-Health Research Centre at the CSIRO, Yogi is changing the way eye care is delivered around the world.
A ‘serial inventor’, Yogi holds more than 30 patents and is the creator of a number of low-cost diagnostic imaging technologies for early detection of conditions, ranging from those that directly threaten sight, through to stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
His team is the first in the world to research and develop an eye test for Alzheimer’s disease.
Olympian – Water Polo.
With parents who both represented Australia in water polo, Zoe Arancini has always been passionate about the sport and will have the opportunity to showcase her experience and skills when she makes her Olympic debut at Rio.
Zoe won bronze at her FINA international debut at the 2009 World League Super Finals in Russia. The same year she was crowned the Australian Junior Women’s Player of the Year.
Zoe’s career highlights include silver at the 2010 FINA World Cup in New Zealand, bronze at the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships in Italy and silver again at the 2013 World Championships in Spain. In 2015 she was named in the FINA World All Stars team.