Meet our incredible Australians of the Year 2022.

On January 25, the recipients for the Australian of the Year 2022 were announced.

Of course there were big shoes to fill considering last year's incredible lineup, which included Grace Tame.

But 2022 also delivered, with some amazing people recognised for their volunteerism, disability advocacy, work combatting alcoholism in the country, and providing healthcare for the homeless.

Here's everything we know about the four Australians of the Year: Dylan Alcott, Valmai Dempsey, Dr Daniel Nour and Shanna Whan.

Watch: Dylan Alcott speaks on disability representation. Post continues below.

Video via Channel 9.

Dylan Alcott: Australian of the Year 2022.

Paralympic champion and tennis golden grand slam winner Dylan Alcott is of course our 2022 Australian of the Year. 

In his acceptance speech, Alcott says his disability is the "best thing that ever happened" to him. 

"It really is... I love my disability. I'm so lucky that I had one of the best families, some of the best friends, my beautiful partner and my whole team who told me that I was worthy. I love the person that I am and the life I get to live," he said.

Image: Getty. At 31 years old, Alcott has a long list of achievements and a full trophy case to match.


The tennis star has also won 23 quad wheelchair Grand Slam titles and became the first man to win a 'golden slam' of all four major singles titles last year.

He also has seven Australian Open titles to his name and is about to compete for his eighth at the Australian Open quad wheelchair singles final on Thursday.

When he's not on the court, Alcott is busy being a passionate disability advocate. 

In 2017, he founded the Dylan Alcott Foundation to help young Aussies with disabilities "overcome the barriers of entry to sport and education by providing fundraising for grants, scholarships and mentoring".

The same year, he co-founded Get Skilled Access, a disability and accessibility training start-up. He also runs AbilityFest, Australia's first and only fully accessible music festival.


During his Australian of the Year speech, Alcott also called for "greater representation of people with a disability absolutely everywhere". 

"In our boardrooms, in our parliaments, in our mainstream schools, on our dating apps, on our sporting fields, in our universities, absolutely everywhere, so we get the opportunity to start living our lives, just like everybody else."

Valmai Dempsey: Senior Australian of the Year 2022.

St John Ambulance volunteer Valmai (Val) Dempsey is the 2022 Senior Australian of the Year.

The 71-year-old was recognised for her volunteerism and incredible efforts for over 50 years. Dempsey started as a cadet volunteer while still in primary school and has given her life to St John Ambulance. 

And amazingly, she is one of the ACT's longest-serving volunteers.

Image: Getty. Throughout the years, Dempsey has seen the need for volunteers in the health service sector. But it was from 2019 onwards where Dempsey has been credited for her work in responding to the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

She led 40 fellow volunteers as they supported fire-affected communities during the emergency that stretched over many weeks.


Then when the pandemic hit, Dempsey displayed unwavering commitment to the St John team, despite heavy impacts on team morale. Without hesitation, she personally contacted every volunteer to check they were doing okay in terms of welfare, mental health and morale.

It is these tireless commitments to St John that has led many in the community to know her lovingly as 'Aunty Val'.

In her acceptance speech at the Australian of the Year Awards, Dempsey shared with the audience: "Our family was forever changed by a car accident more than three decades ago where people came to help but didn't know what to do."

Image: AAP. When Dempsey's daughter Michelle was 17, she was driving some friends in Canberra in the late 1980s.


"A car came through the lights and collided with her. It rolled the car over and ploughed them into a telegraph pole. There were other cars at the scene. And my daughter remembers very clearly the people gathered around. And the words she relayed to me later were, 'Mum, they didn't step forward because they said they didn't know what to do'," Dempsey shared with ABC.

A friend died as a result of the accident. Trained first-aider Michelle was helplessly trapped in the car.

In a bid to make a difference, Dempsey started Project Survival, teaching people with addiction issues to help others who overdose.

The Senior Australian of the Year is also setting her sights on road safety, hoping to see first aid training become compulsory for learner drivers, as it is in parts of Europe.

She concluded her speech on Tuesday night by saying: "As a nation, we can rethink our approach to those critical minutes between life and death at a road accident. I believe holding out a hand to someone or taking the opportunities to be kind: it makes all the difference and it will come back to you 1000-fold."


Dr Daniel Nour: Young Australian of the Year 2022.

Street Side Medics founder Dr Daniel Nour is the 2022 Young Australian of the Year.

In August 2020, Dr Nour noticed a gap in the healthcare services available to vulnerable people in his state of NSW, specifically the homeless. 

So in a bid to make a tangible difference, the 26-year-old founded Street Side Medics: a not-for-profit, GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness.

In his moving speech, Dr Nour said: "As we sit here tonight there are over 116,000 Australians who are experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, many of these Australians face significant barriers that limit their ability to access the healthcare services that we are all so lucky to have available to us."

Image: Getty. With 145 volunteers, and four clinics across NSW, Street Side Medics has changed the lives of more than 300 patients. 

Just some of the conditions the service has helped treat include diabetes, thyroid disorders, hepatitis C, HIV, heart disease and cancer.

Patients have ranged from a 12-year-old living with his mum in their car who had a significant cut from falling off a scooter, to men in their 70s and 80s with prostate issues, Dr Nour said previously. 


And despite also working full time at Royal North Shore Hospital, Dr Nour remains founding director of Street Side Medics, and volunteers his afternoons to make sure everything keeps running smoothly.


The not-for-profit was initially funded through the Young Australian of the Year's own savings and donations. But just recently, the organisation fitted out its second van with a NSW Health grant, which it plans to use across Newcastle, Wollongong and the Central Coast.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Nour also thanked the hundreds of patients who trust Street Side Medics with their care, the board for their support, the hundreds of dedicated and selfless volunteers for their commitment and all the supporters "who make what we do possible".

Speaking on ABC Breakfast about the award win, Dr Nour said he felt "shock and disbelief". 

"It was an absolute honour. I felt so proud. I really felt the weight of the responsibility: we are advocating for over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness who have difficult accessing healthcare. The next year is going to be a busy one, and I'm going to try and do as much as I can."

He continued: "We have the best healthcare system in the world. People are living and suffering on the streets so it's about time we change the way we do healthcare for them. We can take the services and doctors to them."


Shanna Whan: Local Hero 2022.

Sober in the Country founder and CEO Shanna Whan is the 2022 Local Hero recipient. 

Whan has single-handedly been creating radical social impact and change around how we discuss and use alcohol in rural Australia.

On Boxing Day 2014, Whan almost died due to alcoholism when she lay unconscious, bruised and bleeding, at the bottom of her home's stairs and then found herself in hospital.

The incident was the start of a new leaf for Whan, and giving up drinking was just the start. 

She soon began a grassroots charity called Sober in the Country, an independent, not-for-profit bush charity addressing alcohol harm in an overlooked rural demographic.

Sober in the Country amazingly now has a national reach and offers peer support, powerful broad-scale advocacy and education.

Image: Getty. Now, through the national charity, Whan is amplifying the life-saving message that it is always "okay to say no" to booze.


Writing about her decision to give up alcohol and turn to advocacy, Whan said in a Mamamia article: "When the fog had started to lift and my once-clever mind had cleared and started returning, I saw a very clear path upon which I was simply and irrevocably mandated to walk. I knew that my purpose would be to speak openly, publicly, and candidly, using whatever means possible to be that light of hope for others."

She continued: "I knew I had found my passion and my purpose: to fight for people just like me all across rural and remote Australia, abandoned by distance and a healthcare system while being confronted at every turn with the offer to fix everything with a beer. I knew then that I was going to take on the casual alcoholism culture of rural Australia with nothing more than honest truth."


When it comes to the charity's peer support group, known as the Bush Tribe, it's a place where hundreds of like-minded rural men and women can speak about their hopes to cut back or ditch the booze for good.

At the award ceremony, Whan said to the crowd: "Let's be honest about the fact that Australia's got a bit of a drinking problem. It's honestly more acceptable to be drunk in the country than it is to be sober."

Listen to No Filter: The day Shanna realised she was an alcoholic. Post continues after audio.

"Alcohol use is the silent pandemic we are not discussing. Life in rural Australia is permanent iso. We've always got enough beers in the fridge, but we've never got enough services or support. But through connection and community, we create social change," she noted.

Having donated about 20,000 hours to the cause, Whan now travels as the spokesperson for Sober in the Country, previously sitting down with Mia Freedman on No Filter.

As for what we can do on a micro-level, Whan urged Aussies to not peer pressure others to drink. 

"Be a good mate. Don't question or bully someone else's choices. I dream of the day that everyone in the bush knows that it's okay to say no to a beer."


Australia's Governor-General also offered his congratulations to these outstanding Australians recognised. 

"Collectively the recipients represent the strength and diversity of Australia. It has been a challenging couple of years and the recipients announced today are a reminder and reflection of the richness of spirit, selflessness and good in our community."

Image: Instagram. If this post brought up any issues for you, you can contact Drug Aware, Australia's 24hr alcohol and drug support line. You can reach them on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024.

Feature Image: Instagram / @australianoftheyear

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