Australian of the Year awards 2017: Who are the nominees?

The Australian of the Year for 2017 will be announced tonight.

The awards — which also honour the Senior Australian of the Year, the Young Australian of the Year, and Australia’s Local Hero — celebrate the achievements and contributions of ordinary Australians enacting extraordinary change.

Each state and territory nominates a finalist for award — so, before the award is announced, meet each of the nominees.

South Australia: Kate Swaffer

Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with dementia in 2008

As chairwoman, chief executive and co-founder of Dementia Alliance International, she has been the voice for dementia patients, sitting on numerous committees and councils, and was the first person with dementia to be a keynote speaker at a World Health Organisation (WHO) conference.

Western Australia: Andrew Forrest

Philanthropist and mining magnate Andrew Forrest

He was chosen as Western Australia’s 2017 Australian of the Year for driving hands-on philanthropy to support 250 community causes, as well as his work to highlight Indigenous disparity in Australia, and for drawing attention to the 45.8 million people trapped in modern salvery.

Northern Territory: Andrea Mason

Indigenous leader Andrea Mason

As well as advocating for women, the council aims to create employment opportunities, support health and wellbeing, and tackle domestic violence and other social challenges.

Australian Capital Territory: Alan Tongue

Since retiring from the NRL in 2011, former Canberra Raiders captain Alan Tongue

The Aspire program aims to rehabilitate young people and equip them with life skills to make positive choices, and Tongue has also partnered with Barnardos to teach young people how to build healthy and respectful relationships in a bid to tackle domestic violence.

Victoria: Paris Aristotle

Paris Aristotle AM was awarded Victorian Australian of the Year for 2017

As well as advocating for refugees and torture and trauma rehabilitation, he has advised both sides of politics on refugee and asylum seeker policy, as well as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees assisting with resettlement.

Tasmania: Rosalie Martin

Speech pathologist Rosalie Martin


Ms Martin has been volunteering at the jail for the past three years, running a program called Just Sentences — which helps inmates transform their lives — and says her goal is to build awareness around the importance of literacy.

New South Wales: Deng Adut

Refugee and criminal lawyer Deng Adut

He escaped into Kenya, and arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1998.

Mr Adut now runs a law firm in Blacktown, where he often represents members of Sydney’s Sudanese community, and is studying for his second Masters degree.

Queensland: Alan Mackay-Sim

The work of biomolecular scientist Alan Mackay-Sim

Professor Mackay-Sim has spent decades researching the regeneration and repair of the nervous system.

His research has championed the use of stem cells to understand the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and hereditary spastic paraplegia.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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