South Australia's Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, has been nominated for the state's 2021 Australian of the Year Award.
Dr Spurrier, who has helped lead the SA government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, is among 16 South Australians in the running to be named SA's Local Hero, Young Australian of the Year, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year for 2021.
All four nominees for SA's Australian of the Year and all four of the state's Young Australian of the Year nominees are women, and include the first Indigenous person appointed to the AFL executive, Tanya Hosch.
The South Australian winners of each category will be announced on October 12 in a ceremony at Adelaide Oval which will be streamed live online.
They will then join other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the annual national Australian of the Year Awards announcement on January 25, 2021.
South Australia's 2020 Australian of the Year, eye surgeon and eye health advocate Dr James Muecke, went on to receive the national honour.
The other SA nominees for the 2021 awards include an Indigenous artist and cultural leader, advocates for disability, road safety and the vision impaired and a woman helping to keep pets and families safe from domestic violence.
The 2021 South Australian nominees are:
Australian of the Year: Tanya Hosch, the first Indigenous person and second woman appointed to the AFL executive; Jennifer Howard, CEO and founder of Safe Pets Safe Families; Dr Joy O'Hazy, initiator of Birthing Kits; and Professor Nicola Spurrier, paediatrician and SA Chief Public Health Officer.
Senior Australian of the Year: disability advocate Professor Richard Bruggeman; mycologist Pamela Catcheside; artist and Anangu cultural leader Peter Mungkuri; and advocate for the vision impaired Dr David Squirrell.
Young Australian of the Year: businesswoman and migrant activist Alicia Beik; social entrepreneur Isobel Marshall; founder and director of Lift Up Voices Tori Marshall; and road safety advocate Holly Scott.
SA Local Hero: respectful relationships advocate and former AFL footballer Russell Ebert; University of Adelaide Kaurna Cultural Advisor Rodney O'Brien; president of the Goodwood Saints Football Club Craig Scott; and CEO and founder of Puddle Jumpers Inc Melanie Tate.
National Australia Day Council chief executive officer Karlie Brand said the South Australian nominees reflected the many ways in which people contributed to their community.
"In a year which has been particularly challenging for everyone, the South Australia award nominees remind us how important leadership, advocacy and inclusion are," Ms Brand said.
"There are so many people in our communities making a real difference, helping others and lifting us up to be better."
Get to know the SA nominees
The following biographies and photographs of South Australia's 2021 Australian of the Year nominees have been supplied by the organisers of the annual awards, the National Australia Day Council.
Australian of the Year
Tanya Hosch (age 49): Leader, changemaker and visionary
Tanya Hosch is the first Indigenous person and second woman appointed to the AFL executive. She has held leadership roles in sport, the arts, culture, social justice and public policy. One of the pre-eminent Indigenous leaders pursuing constitutional recognition of Australia's First Nations people, Tanya's principled leadership is transforming the AFL - advancing women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, gender-diverse Australians and the entire community.
Tanya championed the first Indigenous player statue of Nicky Winmar and instigated a review of anti-vilification policy within the code. She helped secure an apology for Adam Goodes from the AFL and delivered a new industry framework to help prevent racist treatment of players.
Tanya also helped found advocacy organisation The Indigenous Players Alliance. She drove a new respect and responsibility policy enabling women to seek redress for unacceptable behaviour, and a world-first gender diversity policy for a contact sport. In 2020, she drove a hugely successful social media campaign aimed at informing and protecting Indigenous communities from COVID-19.
Jennifer Howard (39): CEO and founder of Safe Pets Safe Families
When Jennifer Howard escaped a violent relationship in her 20s, she was forced to leave her pets behind. Tragically, she never saw them again. A single mum-of-three, Jennifer has dedicated seven years of her life to creating the registered charity Safe Pets Safe Families. The organisation provides emergency services for people and their pets in times of crisis, such as domestic violence, homelessness, mental illness and medical emergencies.
Jennifer's passion, dedication and work ethic has seen Safe Pets Safe Families grow from an idea to an organisation of 450 volunteers. Since its founding, it has helped more than 800 clients and 1,000 animals. Jennifer is now working to make every domestic violence shelter pet friendly - and to raise awareness about the link between animal abuse and family violence. Research shows many women delay leaving a violent relationship if they have nowhere to take their pets. Jennifer's work has enabled many to leave and seek safety, knowing their animals will be cared for.
Dr Joy O'Hazy (63): Doctor and initiator of Birthing Kits
Every year 295,000 women around the world die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. And almost 2.5 million newborns die within a month. After discovering that many could survive with access to a few basic and clean items, Adelaide doctor Joy O'Hazy decided to act. After four years of research, she created the Birthing Kit - a zip-lock bag containing gloves, string, gauze, soap, a sterile razor blade and a plastic sheet.
In 1999, Joy's Adelaide Hills Zonta Club, a women's service organisation, assembled the first birthing kits, which were distributed in Papua New Guinea. This launched the Zonta Birthing Kit project which evolved into the Birthing Kit Foundation (now KIT International), which has distributed more than 2 million birthing kits and trained more than 10,000 traditional birth attendants.
Joy has dedicated her life professionally and as a volunteer to helping women and refugees in Australia and overseas. She currently mentors young members of the South Sudanese community through the Gloria Health Association.
Professor Nicola Spurrier (53): Chief Public Health Officer, paediatrician and physician
During COVID-19, South Australia has been one of the safest places in the world. The Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, has been instrumental in the state's effective virus response.
Nicola led the SA Health, Health Regulation and Protection Division in its highly successful public health strategy. She co-ordinates with government and non-government agencies and has been the South Australian lead on the national pandemic response. In daily press conferences, Nicola has kept the public informed about the pandemic response. Her calm, honest and direct approach and sound public health advice have gained the trust of South Australians.
Nicola has also educated community groups, councils, professionals and clinicians in countless forums and sessions to ensure they are informed and up-to-date. Throughout COVID-19's monumental challenges, Nicola has acted professionally, strategically and compassionately. Nicola has 29 years' experience in SA Health, developing and implementing policies and programs across child health, obesity prevention and Aboriginal health.
Senior Australian of the Year
Professor Richard Bruggemann (76): Disability advocate
At 76 years old, Professor Richard Bruggemann is continuing to make a difference to the lives of people living with an intellectual disability. Throughout his career, he has provided expert advice to governments on disability services, legislation, inclusion and rights. He is a dedicated volunteer, has sat on more than 20 non-government boards and committees, and is a prolific writer on topics of concern for the disability community.
This year, he was called on by the South Australian Government to join the special taskforce investigating the tragic death of cerebral palsy sufferer, Ann Marie Smith. Richard was also appointed to a new government role to assess the temporary orders to protect people living with a cognitive or mental impairment from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. His ongoing leadership has helped create a community service system that helps people with intellectual disability and their families enjoy a better quality of life.
Pamela Catcheside (80): Mycologist
At 58 years old, retired teacher Pamela Catcheside launched her second profession as a mycologist. Over 22 years, she has built an international reputation as a specialist in macrofungi, (larger fungi). Less than half of Australia's macrofungal species have been formally described. In her voluntary role as Honorary Research Associate, Pamela has added more than 4500 specimens into the State Herbarium of South Australia and described new and threatened species.
With husband David, Pamela surveys macrofungi across the state, focusing on Deep Creek Conservation Park and Kangaroo Island. Australian and international scientists use her collections for taxonomic and evolutionary studies. Pamela is an Adjunct Lecturer at Flinders University, is on the South Australian Women's Honour Roll and was the 2010 Unsung Hero of South Australian Science. She volunteers her time, giving workshops, lectures, talks, writing articles and popular blogs on the importance of fungi to the biosphere.
Peter Mungkuri OAM (74): Artist and cultural leader
Peter Mungkuri OAM is a celebrated South Australian artist who uses his art to share his lived experience as an Anangu man. Born in 1946, Peter lived a traditional lifestyle before working on nearby cattle stations as a highly regarded stockman. He is now a dedicated artist, working daily at the Iwantja Arts Centre in Indulkana Community.
Peter's work displays his knowledge of country and Anangu culture and his experiences working the land. His art has been acquired and exhibited by domestic and international institutions and collections including Art bank, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Foundation Opale, and the Art Gallery of NSW. In 2017, Peter was the inaugural winner of the Hadley Landscape Art Prize. In 2018, he won the General Painting Award at the 35th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, and he was a finalist in the 41st Alice Prize: National Contemporary Art Awards in 2020. Through his art and local engagement with younger generations, Peter helps ensure connection to country and cultural practice is preserved.
Dr David Squirrell (65): Advocate for the vision impaired
Dr David Squirrell is a tireless volunteer supporting South Australia's blind and blind-deaf community. Since retiring as a medical consultant due to his own loss of sight and hearing, he has represented and lobbied for the vision impaired community at every level of government, with humour, empathy and understanding.
As President of the Adelaide branch of Blind Citizens Australia, he has successfully lobbied for changes that help empower the vision impaired, the blind deaf community, and people with other disabilities. These have included ensuring appropriate signage in public places, guide and service dog toilet facilities at Adelaide Airport, tactile markers on city and suburban streets, and advocacy for the blind in hospitals and medical facilities.
David is actively involved in multiple committees and boards to ensure a voice for the vision impaired, many of whom also have other complex disabilities. His advocacy helps provide greater independence for the vision impaired, enabling greater equality and inclusion in society.
Young Australian of the Year
Alicia Beik (30): Businesswoman and migrant activist
Businesswoman and community activist Alicia Beik is passionate about family, the migrant community and safe, affordable social housing. Alicia arrived Australia in 2011 as an asylum seeker, looking for a safe place to live and a better future. She was overwhelmed by challenges and barriers. After working in a farmhouse for four years to support her brother, who was still in a detention centre in South East Asia, she attended university in 2015.
After joining the Anglicare South Australia Humanitarian Settlement Program to assist new arrivals with housing inquiries, she witnessed the need for affordable accommodation. So, in 2018, she launched the Affordable Sustainable Housing Program. Alicia worked with academics, government, builders and communities to find sustainable and affordable solutions for building new homes. Today, the program provides more than 200 affordable homes to vulnerable and low-income families in the city of Playford Council, for as little as a $3000 deposit, giving these new Australians a place to call home.
Isobel Marshall (22): Social entrepreneur
At just 18 years of age, Isobel Marshall launched a social enterprise business to help women around the world by breaking down stigma around menstruation and providing greater access to hygiene products.
With business partner Eloise Hall, she co-founded TABOO after crowdfunding $56,000 to launch their range of products in August 2019. TABOO sells high quality, ethically sourced, organic cotton pads and tampons to an Australian market, with 100 per cent of net profits going to One Girls - a charity providing education programs for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Locally, Isobel and TABOO have partnered with Vinnies Women's Crisis centre, providing free access to pads and tampons for women who require emergency accommodation in South Australia. Recognising period poverty is not just a big city issue, they also support the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council. Isobel is also a full-time student at the University of Adelaide, where she is studying a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery.
Tori Marshall (30): Founder and Director of Lift Up Voices
Tori Marshall is the co-founder and director of Lift Up Voices (L.U.V) and the Lift Up Voices Foundation. In her work as a vocalist, songwriter, and sound engineer, Tori has worked alongside well-known musicians in Los Angeles, and had her music featured in television and film. Having a twin sister with a disability, Tori wanted to provide inclusive opportunities to explore the creative arts. A registered NDIS provider, L.U.V delivers group programs incorporating singing, song writing, recording, production, music and podcasting, to build confidence and social connection.
The L.U.V Foundation, a not for profit organisation with a mission to give a voice to those who need it, recently launched the L.U.V. BLM (Black Lives Matter) Initiative in the United States. The initiative provides training in song and movie creation, giving youth in marginalised communities the tools to tell their own stories through the creative arts. Tori has also delivered programs and initiatives in schools, orphanages and organisations in Jamaica and Los Angeles.
Holly Scott (25): Road safety advocate
In July 2017, 22-year-old Holly Scott began a 40-minute drive to her boyfriend's house but didn't arrive. Minutes from his home, her boyfriend found her car wrapped around a tree. After emerging from a 15-day coma, Holly had to learn to walk and talk again. As well affecting her speech, balance and vision, the accident shattered her pelvis, fractured vertebras, and broke her hip, tailbone and both legs.
Holly has used this traumatic experience to educate others about the devastating effects of car accidents. Her accident and recovery are the subject of a seven-part web documentary, Driven. In 2019, Holly shared her emotional story twice with 8000 people, mostly school students, at the RAA Street Smart event.
Holly continues to do public speaking engagements on road safety and education to schools and other community groups. She has returned to same brain injury ward where her recovery began to share her story and started a Facebook group to support people with a brain injury.
SA Local Hero
Russell Elbert OAM (71): Respectful relationships advocate
Former footballer Russell Ebert OAM is a legendary figure with the Port Adelaide Football Club. A four-time winner of the Magarey Medal, awarded to the best and fairest player in the South Australian National Football League, he's considered one of the club's greatest players of all time. Today, Russell continues to give back to the club and the South Australian community through his leadership of the club's Power Community Ltd (PCL) youth programs.
He is particularly passionate about PCL's Power to End Violence Against Women program, which he delivers to Year 10 students around the state. Developed with Centacare Catholic Family Services and the South Australian Department for Education, the program challenges gender-based attitudes and promotes respectful relationships and an end to domestic violence. The program has reached more than 5000 students since starting in 2016.
Russell is also a passionate supporter of children living with disabilities and is a fundraising ambassador for disability services organisation, Novita.
Rodney O'Brien (60): Kaurna Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide
A proud member of the Kaurna and Adelaide Aboriginal community, Rodney O'Brien is passionate about sharing his knowledge, experiences and language with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike. As Kaurna Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide, Rod provides cultural support to young Aboriginal people, drawing on his firsthand experience of the difficulties Indigenous students can face in a predominantly Western society. He also provides cultural awareness for non-Indigenous students and staff to enable them to contribute more meaningfully towards reconciliation.
Rod creates a welcoming and non-judgemental space that nurtures engagement with Aboriginal history, language and culture. He has played a vital role in the development of the university's recently launched Kaurna Learning Circle. Rod has also advocated for the uptake of Kaurna language and Welcome to or Acknowledgement of Country as standard university practice. Rod dedicates his free time to several committees, including the Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation, Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation, and Kura Yerlo Inc.
Craig Scott (57): President of Goodwood Saints Football Club
President of Goodwood Saints Football Club (Goody Saints), Craig Scott has been a driving force in the club for more than 43 years. Thanks to Craig's vision and guidance, everyone is welcome and valued at Goody Saints. Craig has championed the SANFL Inclusive League, ensuring players with integration difficulties including mental and physical disabilities are wholly integrated into the club. Junior players are also developed at Goody Saints - with no tryouts or cuts.
Craig has steered the club to actively support social justice issues. These include opportunities for the homeless from the Hutt Street Centre and supporting causes like the Red Shield appeal, breast cancer and mental health awareness, and White Ribbon Day. The team also acknowledges and supports Indigenous causes. A police officer outside the club, since 1994 Craig has been involved in Operation Flinders, a new direction for at-risk youth. His encouraging communication style and strong leadership have helped create a stronger, healthier and more resilient community.
Melanie Tate (41): CEO and founder Puddle Jumpers Inc
Melanie Tate is the CEO and founder of Puddle Jumpers Inc, which provides food and welfare services to some of South Australia's most at-risk children. Founded in 2012, Puddle Jumpers helps children living away from their birth parents form positive childhood memories through experiences like camps, activity days and mentoring programs. The charity also offers practical support to vulnerable families who might otherwise fall through the cracks - with access to free food, clothing and essential household items at their weekly Community Food Nights.
At the start of the pandemic, Puddle Jumpers adapted and expanded its services to meet unprecedented calls for help from families in need. Since then, they've provided drive-by food collections in nine locations throughout South Australia, handing out thousands of hampers to families and individuals doing it tough. Melanie volunteers countless hours to the organisation, inspiring hundreds of others to do the same. Through her dedication, she makes an enormous difference to the lives of thousands of South Australian children and families.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au
- ACM, the publisher of this website, is media partner of the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards.