2016 Australian of the Year finalist for ACT, David Morrison AO, is seen during the launch of an exhibition of personal objects representing the experiences of the state and territory finalists for the Australian of the Year 2016 awards at the National Museum in Canberra, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015.
2016 Australian of the Year finalist for ACT, David Morrison AO, is seen during the launch of an exhibition of personal objects representing the experiences of the state and territory finalists for the Australian of the Year 2016 awards at the National Museum in Canberra, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. AAP Image - Lukas Coch

David Morrison named Australian of the Year

DAVID Morrison is the Australian of the Year - for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

When the equality advocate was Chief of Army, his very public 2013 video message ordering misbehaving troops to "get out" if they couldn't accept women as equals went viral and started a cultural shift that has changed the armed forces forever.

The Senior Australian of the Year is Professor Gordian Fulde whose work as head of two hospital emergency departments has seen him call out the horrors of the ice epidemic and alcohol-fuelled violence.

St. Vincent's Hospital Emergency Department Director Prof. Gordian Fulde in his department, Sydney, Saturday, March 1, 2014.
St. Vincent's Hospital Emergency Department Director Prof. Gordian Fulde in his department, Sydney, Saturday, March 1, 2014. AAP Image - Dean Lewins

The Young Australian of the Year went to Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, who started a mobile laundry for homeless people with vans from Brisbane to Melbourne.

Orange Sky Laundry co-founders Lucas Patchett (L) and Nic Marchesi have arrived in Yeppoon, Sat. Feb. 21. 2015 to help people impacted by Cyclone Marcia. The pair operate a free mobile laundry service that usually help the homeless, but is also used in disaster situations.
Orange Sky Laundry co-founders Lucas Patchett (L) and Nic Marchesi have arrived in Yeppoon, Sat. Feb. 21. 2015 to help people impacted by Cyclone Marcia. The pair operate a free mobile laundry service that usually help the homeless, but is also used in disaster situations. AAP IMAGE - Karin Calvert

Australia's Local Hero is Dr Catherine Keenan, a former journalist who left her career in 2012 to help nurture the talent and creativity of marginalised young Australians. As co-founder of the Sydney Story Factory, Dr Keenan has helped thousands of primary and high school students express themselves through writing and storytelling.

The major announcements were followed by 604 people being given Order of Australia medals for their work across all parts of society.

Among the national figures to receive AC medals were Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit Court John Pascoe, former tennis player Rod Laver, book author Jackie French and former South Australian premier Mike Rann.
 

Others to receive AM medals included chief of the Minerals Council Mitch Hooke, retiring tennis star Lleyton Hewitt, sports administrator David Gallop, singer Tina Arena and television personality Melissa Doyle.

On top of the 604 general division recipients were 209 Australians given awards for military service and "meritorious conduct".

This year in the general division, about 2.3 times as many awards went to men compared to women, at 421 medals for men and 183 for women.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove congratulated recipients and said the nation was fortunate to have so many people willing to dedicate themselves to the "betterment of our nation".

Prime Minister's Remarks at the Australian of the Year ceremony

Thank you, Jeremy - and together, we gather on the land of the Ngunnawal people and we honour their elders past and present.

Australians, let us all rejoice, rejoice that tonight, we are honouring the Australian of the Year Finalists. Selfless, committed to the service of others, in different ways improving and enriching the lives of our whole Australian family.

Our 2015 Australian of the Year - Rosie Batty - used the platform of that office for a passionate advocacy.

Out of sadness and loss, but moved by love, she inspired us to stand up and say "no" to violence against women and girls, and "no" to the disrespect from which that violence stems.

I want to thank Rosie, and all her fellow 2015 Australians of the Year, for their remarkable contributions.

And like them, yes - they deserve some applause! Well, it's very important to be agile in the year of innovation.

Like them, like our 2015 Australians of the Year, our 2016 finalists come from across Australia and from every walk of life.

We rejoice that they, too, are shining examples of our best selves.

And tonight on the eve of Australia Day, we rejoice in being citizens of a nation whose identity is not defined by religion or race, but rather, by shared political values, open to all, democracy, the rule of law, mutual respect, and our deep instinct in our Australian DNA that everyone is entitled to a fair go.

To all our fellow Australians, each and every one of you, each and every one of us, has made this country what it is today.

So for tomorrow, happy Australia Day, and to all the 2016 Australian of the Year Finalists, congratulations!


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