Nominees for the 2022 South Australia Australian of the Year Awards include a vaccination researcher, a war veteran, an Olympian, a Rhino conservationist, a hay runner, a foster carer and a woman who got her community swimming in Marilyn Monroe costumes.
They are among the 16 South Australians in the running to be named the state's Local Hero, Young Australian, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year.
The 2022 South Australia award nominees are:
Australian of the Year
- Professor Helen Marshall, vaccination researcher;
- Phillip de Pinto, co-founder of Living Without Limits Foundation;
- Dr Samantha Pillay, surgeon, entrepreneur, author and educator;
- Natasha Stott Despoja AO, gender equality advocate and inaugural chair of Our Watch.
Young Australian of the Year
- Kyle Chalmers OAM, Olympic swimming champion;
- Dr Trudy Lin, special needs dentistry consultant at Adelaide Dental Hospital;
- Bianca Nilsson, founder of Renegade Records;
- Zoe Simpson, founder of Mount Gambier Hay Run.
Senior Australian of the Year
- Peter Clark, director of Monarto Safari Park;
- Bill Denny AM BM, war veteran and RSL SA ambassador;
- Dawn Jennings, foster carer;
- Mark Le Messurier, educator, counsellor and author.
SA Local Hero
- Monique Bareham, Lymphoedema Association SA Inc president;
- Anthony Hart, founder of Invigor Wellbeing;
- Sarah Tinney, founder of the Marilyn Jetty Swim;
- Raelene Wlochowicz, founder of the Playford Women's Shed.
The four award recipients from South Australia will be announced on the evening of Thursday October 21 in a ceremony at the Adelaide Convention Centre which will also be available to watch online via livestream.
They will then join other state and territory recipients as finalists for the national awards announced on January 25, 2022.
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the South Australian nominees for their contributions.
"The diversity of the South Australia nominees is a great reminder of the variety of ways in which our communities are built and supported," Ms Brand said.
"All the nominees are to be celebrated for their achievements. They provide inspiration for others to pursue dreams and give us reason to reflect on how we can all play a part in making a difference."
The following profiles and pictures of the South Australian nominees have been supplied by the National Australia Day Council, as organisers of the Australian of the Year Awards.
SA AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
Professor Helen Marshall - Vaccination researcher
Professor Helen Marshall is one of Australia's most celebrated and recognised vaccination researchers. Specialising in vaccinology, public health and infectious diseases at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute, Helen has been involved in game-changing studies that have had a global impact.
A key focus is the fight to stop meningococcal B. Helen is a lead investigator for the 'B Part of It' study, which assessed the effectiveness of meningococcal B vaccines on invasive meningococcal disease in Australian teens and young adults. The study is the largest of its kind globally and investigates the herd immunity impact of the meningococcal B vaccine.
Since 2004, Helen has published 211 peer-reviewed papers and been awarded 17 research grants totalling more than $33 million. She's also been the recipient of three National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowships.
During the pandemic, 58-year-old Helen has provided advice about meningococcal B and COVID-19 to the South Australian Minister for Health and the Chief Public Health Officer.
Phillip de Pinto - Co-founder of Living Without Limits Foundation
Since 2012, Phillip de Pinto has dedicated his life to supporting children with disability. He co-founded Living Without Limits Foundation to positively impact the lives of kids with autism and cerebral palsy.
Since its inception, the not-for-profit has raised more than $1 million. These funds have gone towards critical research, other children's organisations, and to set up the House of Respite.
The purpose-built House of Respite is a holiday house in Goolwa. It offers a getaway for families with children who have autism or cerebral palsy. Phillip has poured thousands of hours into making it a success. He's secured significant private and corporate funding and sponsorship, while ensuring that every dollar goes to the right place.
Philip has also provided his skills as an event auctioneer to countless charities, including the AP Eagers Foundation, Starlight Foundation and the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knight of Malta.
Through his selfless work, 45 year old Phillip is leaving a lasting legacy within the disability sector.
Dr Samantha Pillay - Surgeon, entrepreneur, author and educator
Studying medicine at the University of Adelaide, Dr Samantha Pillay became the first woman in South Australia to complete the adult Urological Surgical training program. She was the first Australian to sub specialise exclusively in female and functional urology.
Samantha has since established her own sub-speciality practice, Continence Matters, after recognising a need to focus on incontinence treatments and special care for women in South Australia.
An advocate for public health, education and financial security, Samantha wants to remove the stigma of incontinence by engaging and educating doctors, health professionals and the community.
She's served on numerous boards and committees, including as Chair of the Female Urology Special Advisory Group for the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, from 2007 to 2013.
At 52, Samantha is also a best-selling author, and she often writes articles on taboo issues like incontinence, alcohol consumption and the glass ceiling for female surgeons.
Samantha has never let physical limitations from congenital hip dysplasia hold her back.
Natasha Stott Despoja AO - Gender equality advocate and inaugural Chair of Our Watch
Natasha Stott Despoja is the former leader of the Australian Democrats and Senator for South Australia, but today she uses her platform to advocate for gender equality and the prevention of violence against women and girls.
She's the founding Chair of Our Watch, a national leader in the prevention of violence against women and their children. Over eight years, the 52 year old has worked tirelessly to embed gender equality in the lives of Australians to prevent violence - understanding that the two are inextricably linked.
Recognising these efforts, in November 2020, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women elected her as an independent expert for a four-year term - the first Australian in 28 years. The committee monitors the progress of UN member state's efforts to eliminate discrimination against women.
Other roles she's held include World Bank Gender Advisory Council member and Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls. She's also a non-executive director of several not-for-profit organisations.
Natasha is also an author. Her first book On Violence calls for societal change to prevent violence against women.
SA YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
Kyle Chalmers OAM - Olympic swimming champion
Kyle Chalmers is an Olympic swimming champion, who inspires through his efforts and achievements both in and out of the swimming pool.
Kyle made his Australian swim team debut at the 2015 World Swimming Championships. A year later, at just 18 years old, he won the gold medal in the men's 100 metres freestyle at the Rio Olympics, setting a new junior world record. In 2021, at his second Olympic Games in Tokyo, Kyle took home silver in the men's 100 metres freestyle.
Outside of his sporting achievements, 23 year old Kyle is passionate about water safety. He's an ambassador for VACSWIM, a program that helps prevent drownings, and encourages kids to be safe in the water.
Kyle is also involved in several community events, including volunteering with the Salvation Army, educating against racism through 'Enough is Enough', and supporting and promoting the FightMND foundation - a charity that works to raise funds to find effective treatments and a potential cure for Motor Neurone Disease.
Dr Trudy Lin - Special Needs Dentistry consultant at Adelaide Dental Hospital
As the youngest of only 20 practising specialists in Australia's Special Needs Dentistry sector, 29 year old Dr Trudy Lin provides oral healthcare to people with disability, psychiatric illness, and complex medical issues such as cancer. She also treats people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence.
Trudy's passion for dentistry started as a child, after seeing the profound impact poor oral health had on her father's life, including his physical, social and psychological wellbeing. From then on, she was set on specialising in Special Needs Dentistry to care for the most vulnerable people - a place she believed her profession could create the most positive impact.
Trudy has completed a research thesis on implementing a triaging tool to improve oral healthcare access for people with disability. This work has received multiple accolades, including the 2020 Australian and New Zealand division winner of the International Association of Dental Research Poster Competition.
Showing a strong work ethic and exemplary leadership skills, Trudy continues to dedicate her career to improving access to oral healthcare for all Australians.
Bianca Nilsson - Founder of Renegade Records
As the founder of independent record label Renegade Records, Bianca Nilsson is a mentor to artists all over the world - in music, and also in life. Since its establishment in 2015, Renegade Records has grown into a buzzing record label that helps around five new artists each week. It also serves as a female-operated safe space for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2020, Bianca saw an opportunity to help artists who weren't signed to a label. She expanded Renegade Records to include a publicity service, offering tailored campaigns for artists in a variety of genres, including press and radio coverage, as well as Spotify playlists. Renegade Records has two employees, one local and one in the US, who recruit artists to support the business's publicity arm.
Where some people see barriers, 25 year old Bianca always sees opportunities to inspire. All around the world, she helps musicians to realise their dreams.
Zoe Simpson - Founder of the Mount Gambier Hay Run
In late 2019, then 16-year-old Zoe Simpson was inspired to help farmers after a devastating bushfire ripped through South Australian farmland. It burned through more than 15,000 hectares, killing livestock and destroying buildings - and leaving famers without essential feed for their animals.
After a chat with her father Scott, Zoe started to gather hay with the help of a family friend before putting out a call on social media. From there, her efforts gained momentum and grew into what has become the Mount Gambier Hay Run.
In January 2021, the Mount Gambier Hay Run conducted a delivery drive to the Lucindale community after a blaze in Blackford left around 16,000 hectares burnt. In just three days, Zoe and her team managed to deliver more than 70 trucks full of hay to an overwhelmingly grateful community.
Believing farmers are the backbone of the country and deserving of help, 18 year old Zoe shows a tireless effort in supporting South Australia's farming communities in their times of need.
SA SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR
Peter Clark - Director of Monarto Safari Park
Peter Clark is a passionate wildlife conservationist with a career spanning almost 50 years. As Director of Monarto Safari Park, the 68 year old has played an instrumental role in turning the open-range zoo into the world's largest safari experience.
Peter has established world-recognised wildlife conservation initiatives, including plans to bring vulnerable Southern White Rhinos to the state. In partnership with The Australian Rhino Project, Taronga Conservation Society and Orana Wildlife Trust, 30 rhinos will be transferred from South Africa, via New Zealand, in 2022.
Peter's also leading a $50-million project called Wild Africa which includes an expansion of the park and increased animal population, plus an 80-room hotel and glamping style accommodation. Peter has worked with Zoos South Australia since 2003 and he became Director of Monarto Safari Park in 2018. Prior to that he worked in agriculture and conservation with the Papua New Guinean and Australian governments.
In 2021, Peter's relentless efforts in conversation and animal welfare were recognised when he received a UNESCO Achievement Award.
Bill Denny AM BM - War veteran and RSL South Australia Ambassador
A Vietnam War veteran, Bill Denny has contributed greatly to how we remember the service and sacrifice made by Australian servicemen and servicewomen.
For 25 years, Bill has been a member of the RSL South Australia ANZAC Day Committee, serving as Chairman for 19 of those years. In that time, he's widened the legacy of ANZAC commemoration to include young people and people of multicultural backgrounds, by founding the ANZAC Eve Youth Vigil.
Collaborating with Indigenous servicemen and servicewomen, Bill co-founded the Aboriginal and Torres Strait War Memorial at the Torrens Parade Ground in 2013. This was the first memorial in Australia to specifically commemorate the service and sacrifice of (often undocumented) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Bill also founded and led the creation of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, in partnership with the Vietnamese community in South Australia, at the Torrens Parade Ground. It's through these activities at RSL South Australia that 71 year old Bill demonstrates why he continues to be revered by the veteran community.
Dawn Jennings - Foster carer
From 1994 until her retirement in 2020, Dawn Jennings opened her home and heart to support foster babies. While raising her own four children, she cared for foster children as young as two days old, helping ensure they had a safe and nurtured start to life.
Parents understand the complex and rewarding privilege that comes with raising children. Dawn has lived this experience 91 times within the fostering environment, safeguarding them until permanent homes were found and secured.
Over the years, Dawn has looked after babies for a couple of days right up to 18 months, with the average stay between 10 to 12 months.
Many people describe 67 year old Dawn as inspiring, selfless, humble and strong; a loving woman who has made an incredible impact within the community.
She's a shining example of how important it is to care for those who need our support, and the remarkable difference one person can make to the lives of many.
Mark Le Messurier - Educator, counsellor and author
Mark Le Messurier has devoted his life to improving the self-worth, wellbeing, mental health and life outcomes of young people. He focuses on who he calls the 'tough kids' - those who are struggling in some capacity. This includes children with disabilities, global developmental delays, disadvantage, disorders, neglect, or a combination of issues.
After a 20-year teaching career, Mark opened a private-practice consultancy to mentor children and teenagers who needed support beyond the school system, and to coach parents. His goal has always been to create environments that set children and adults up for success.
He's authored numerous books for teachers and parents, including co-authoring What's the Buzz? - a world-class social and emotional literacy education program. It's become a standard course in the training of teachers, counsellors, psychologists, social workers, and youth workers in over 90 countries.
Mark's generosity and consideration for others is profound, far reaching, and life changing. The 67 year old has helped many families and is a relatable role model and mentor.
SA LOCAL HERO
Monique Bareham - President of Lymphoedema Association SA Inc.
Ten years ago, Monique Bareham received a cancer diagnosis. Like many people who go through cancer treatment, she was left with lymphoedema - a chronic, debilitating and incurable condition caused by damage to the lymphatic system.
Monique soon realised South Australia was the only state without a compression garment subsidy program. This meant many people living with lymphoedema were going without these necessary medical items.
Wanting to make a difference, Monique joined the Lymphoedema Support Group SA, now Lymphoedema Association SA Inc., and soon took on the role of president. After years of attending meetings, gathering personal experiences from people living with lymphoedema, and lobbying the state, the South Australian government announced a compression garment subsidy scheme in July 2020. Such a breakthrough would not have been possible without Monique's efforts.
Monique, now aged 50, remains tireless in her advocacy for the lymphoedema community across South Australia. She monitors the roll-out of the compression garment subsidy scheme to ensure availability and equity in its delivery.
Anthony Hart - Founder of Invigor Wellbeing
In November 2003, Anthony Hart was on anti-depressants, sleep deprived and suffering from depression. He made a significant attempt on his life. Through a remarkable stroke of luck, he clung onto life and survived. Since that day he has been on a mission to shift the narrative around mental health in Australia.
In 2017, Anthony founded Invigor Wellbeing to empower people to identify and address challenges before they escalate into serious mental health issues. Through his arduous recovery, he developed the Lifeback Tracker - a self-help tool to assist anyone dealing with early signs of stress, anxiety or depression. It offers users four simple steps to help them achieve better mental health.
Anthony also created the 'Save Our Mates' Community Wellbeing Roadshows. These events aim to improve community wellbeing by promoting help-seeking behaviours in men and women.
At 46, Anthony continues to share his story to inspire Australians to take better care of their mind and physical wellbeing.
Sarah Tinney - Founder of the Marilyn Jetty Swim
Sarah Tinney's mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2006, passing away a year later. From that point on, Sarah pledged to help raise money to cure cancer in her mother's honour.
It was in 2013 that Sarah suggested a fundraiser with a difference. What started as a light-hearted conversation at the Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club, later turned into the Marilyn Jetty Swim. The event sees hundreds of women (and men) dress up as Marilyn Monroe for a swim around the Brighton Jetty.
The Marilyn Jetty Swim is now the biggest community event supporting Cancer Council SA, with over $670,000 raised since its inception. It also won the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Marilyn Monroe in 2020 - with 254 blonde bombshells dressed as the 1950s icon.
Devoted to her local Brighton community, 42 year old Sarah gathers adventurous women and men from all different walks of life, united by their desire to see the end of cancer.
Raelene Wlochowicz - Founder of the Playford Women's Shed
Raelene Wlochowicz retired in 2019 after 28 years working in the youth justice system. Needing something to fill her time, she founded the first women's shed in the northern Adelaide suburb of Playford, South Australia. There are hundreds of men's sheds across Australia and 85 in South Australia alone - yet not many for women.
Opened in March 2020, the Playford Women's Shed provides a safe, supportive and friendly environment for women of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. The Shed offers a place for women to gather, volunteer, work, teach, learn and enjoy the company of other women.
Whether it be for safety, love, friendship or just a hug, 64 year old Raelene puts herself out there to help any woman or child who needs it. Raelene has brought together women from all walks of life to share their skills and knowledge in classes and programs that promote self-esteem and the independence of those who are a part of the community that is the Playford Women's Shed.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au
- ACM, publisher of this newspaper, is Media Partner of the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards.