It was an all female star cast recognised for their achievements at the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards. Here, we celebrate these inspirational women who are making a difference to the lives of so many.
AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR – GRACE TAME
Grace Tame, 26, first made history when she was granted an legal exemption to speak about her experience as a sexual assault survivor. Now she is doing it again as the first Tasmanian to become Australian of the Year. The sexual abuse advocate plans to use the award to continue advocating for abuse survivors and campaigning for better education in order to prevent child abuse.
At 15-years-old, she was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old teacher at a private girls’ school in Hobart. Her abuser was jailed but she was not legally able to speak about her experience publicly under Tasmania’s sexual assault victim gag laws.
She became the anonymous face and catalyst of the #LetHerSpeak campaign, applying to the Supreme Court for the right to speak publicly and identify as a rape survivor. In 2019, she won.
“Predators manipulate all of us: family, friends, colleagues, strangers, in every class, culture and community,” she said in her emotional acceptance speech.
“They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all of our vulnerabilities, trauma does not discriminate nor does it end when the abuse itself does.”
SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR – MIRIAM-ROSE UNGUNMERR-BAUMANN
The 73-year-old Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu is an artist, activist, writer and public speaker who has worked to bridge the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous society. In 1975 she became the Northern Territory’s first qualified Aboriginal teacher, later becoming a principal and consultant. Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann believes all children should learn about visual art. She also shared an important message about the importance of learning more about our unique indigenous culture in Australia during her acceptance speech. “Now is the time for you to come closer to understand us,” she said in her speech.
YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR – ISOBEL MARSHALL
The Adelaide medical student has been awarded for her role in co-founding a menstruation product company called Taboo that gives all its profits to charity, providing education for girls and women in Sierra Leone and Uganda. The 22-year-old’s company also works with charity to provide women needing emergency accommodation in South Australia pads and tampons.
AUSTRALIA’S LOCAL HERO – ROSEMARY KARIUKI
The Kenyan refugee – who now calls NSW home – has been awarded for her work helping migrants combat loneliness as they adjust to life in Australia. The 60-year-old is also a multicultural community liaison officer for police, helping migrants facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.