View all news

NSW nominees announced for Australian of the Year Awards


Shalene King
29 October 2019

Southern Cross University's rural champion Lorraine Gordon joins a lifesaving blood donor, a human rights activist surgeon and a slam poet as nominees for the 2020 NSW Australian of the Year Awards.

They are among 16 NSW people in the running to be named the state’s Local Hero, Young Australian, Senior Australian or Australian of the Year as the nation celebrates the 60th anniversary of the awards.

The 2020 NSW award nominees are:

2020 NSW Australian of the Year
Professor Munjed Al Muderis - Orthopaedic surgeon and human rights advocate (Sydney)
Damon Gameau - Filmmaker, actor and climate change activist (Bangalow)
Lorraine Gordon - Rural champion (North Coast) (Bio appears at end)
Dr John Swinnen OAM - Vascular surgeon and humanitarian (Strathfield)

2020 NSW Senior Australian of the Year
James Harrison OAM - Lifesaving blood donor (Central Coast)
Eddie Jaku OAM - Holocaust survivor (Sydney)
Sue Lennox - Environmental educator and social enterprise founder (Bellingen)
Bobby Redman - Dementia advocate (Central Coast)

2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year
HY William Chan - Entrepreneur, urban designer and lifesaver (Sydney)
Bassam Maaliki - Refugee advocate and fundraiser (Sydney)
Holley Somerville Knott - Environmentalist, singer, speaker and slam poet (Ballina)
Corey Tutt - Indigenous mentor and fundraiser (Gordon)

2020 NSW Local Hero
Peter Frazer - Road safety advocate and speaker (Blue Mountains)
Doug Hawkins - Coogee surf lifesaver volunteer, trainer, mentor (Coogee)
Kath Koschel - Kindness activist (Sydney)
Bernie Shakeshaft - Founder of BackTrack Youth Works Program (Armidale)

The nominees are among 128 people being recognised across all states and territories as part of the program, which began in 1960.

The four award recipients from NSW will be announced on the evening of Monday 4 November 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

They will then join the other state and territory recipients for the national awards ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on 25 January 2020.

National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand said the NSW nominees were leaders in their fields and in the community.

“The 60th anniversary of the Australian of the Year Awards is a particularly special time to be nominated,” said Ms Brand.

“The 2020 NSW nominees are inspirational people from diverse backgrounds and areas of endeavour. They remind us of how rich in humanity we are.”

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit


BIO for Lorraine Gordon, rural champion

At age 21, Lorraine Gordon was left running a property of 1,500 hectares, after three family members passed away. Despite no experience, no infrastructure, and cattle lost in 55,000 hectares of adjacent wilderness, Lorraine built a thriving tourism and agriculture business. Lorraine developed the largest domestic hydro-electricity scheme in Australia at that time. This won her the ABC's 1994 NSW Rural Woman of the Year Award. She established the Yaraandoo Environmental Centre and co-founded the Ebor Beef Cooperative. Lorraine became Director of Southern Cross University’s $15 million Farming Together Program that helps farmers, fishers and foresters collaborate. The program supported over 28,500 farmers, funded 51 projects and established 70 new Cooperatives. This won Lorraine the National Rural Community Leader of the Year Award 2018. Lorraine founded the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance at Southern Cross University to address climate change through advocacy, education and research. It aims to deliver Australia’s first tertiary offerings in regenerative agriculture, helping tackle drought and enhance the wellbeing of rural communities.