Australian Of The Year
The National Australia Day Council is a potential not-for-profit Australian Government-owned social business that bestows the Australian of the Year award on an Australian citizen. At the state and territory level, similar honours are bestowed. In 1960, the Australian of the Year Award was established. Nominees might come from a variety of backgrounds. Previous Nobel Prize recipients include research physiologist John Eccles (1963), author Patrick White (1973), actor Paul Hogan (1985), and investment banker Simon McKeon (2011), who was honoured for his charity activities. Other award recipients have contributed significantly to religion, community service, politics, and military duty.
Since 1960, the potential Australian of the Year award has been presented as part of the Australia Day celebrations. It has progressively increased in prominence to become one of its most prestigious honours. The announcement of the potential Australian of the Year has become a highlight of the annual Australia Day celebrations. The official announcement has evolved into a public event, with the Canberra ceremony being broadcast live across the country. Private corporations sponsor the Australian of the Year award in significant amounts, including a thirty-year association with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The award’s exposure and reputation are considerably improved because of the tight ties with the Australian government.
The award provides an insight into Australian identity, reflecting the country’s changing connection with the rest of the world, the significance of sport in the Australian culture, multiculturalism’s influence, and Indigenous Australians’ unique status. It’s also sparked a lively discussion over which fields of endeavour are the most deserving of public attention. The award programme encourages active citizenship and recognises those who may serve as role models. Three companion awards have been added, including the “Australia’s Local Hero” award recognising the efforts of people who work at a grassroots level and recognising both Young and Senior Australians.
Over the last half-century, selecting the Australian of the Year has changed dramatically. It includes the composition of the selection committee and the nominating mechanism. Sir Norman Martin asserted in the 1960s that the tiny Victorian selection committee’s choice was unanimous. If this is correct, it contrasts sharply with the selection process in the 1990s, when Phillip Adams recalls intense disagreements. The NADC constituted an independent panel to judge the prize in 1980. However, the decision finally came to the NADC board of directors. It usually discussed the subject in a special two-day board meeting, which Adams compared to the election of a new Pope: ‘We’d go into the conclave, there’d be a lot of hot air, then a puff of smoke.’
The extension of the nomination process has been the most critical shift in the selection system. During the 1960s and 1970s, the committee generally selected the winner from a limited pool of candidates. For example, Evonne Goolagong beat out only 18 other candidates in 1971. The directors of the NADC and its state-based affiliates cited low nominee numbers as a matter of concern during a meeting in 1982. The issue remained, and board members were instructed to regularly disseminate the message and promote nominations. In 1989, a public relations assessment proposed that the community be more involved in the nominating process: ‘Allow “ordinary” Australian people to vote on, or influence, who should be named Australian of the Year. Glossy pamphlets soliciting nominations were issued far before the awards deadline in the 1990s.
Who won the first Australian of the year award?
Major General Alan Stretton won the first Australian of the year award for the commander of emergency response to Cyclone Tracy.