Things of meaning to Australians of the year

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An historic pair of clapsticks, a deeply personal artwork, a celebratory coffee mug and a career motivating medal are among the objects chosen by the 2023 Australian of the Year state and territory recipients, who include a former Socceroo fighting for human rights, a body image activist, a First Nations leader, and an insect farming pioneer.

The National Museum of Australia and the National Australia Day Council has launched an exhibition of significant objects chosen by the eight extraordinary 2023 Australian of the Year state and territory recipients, which tell personal stories about their lives, aspirations and experiences.

The winners are insect farming pioneer Olympia Yarger from the ACT, former Socceroo and human rights activist Craig Foster from NSW, Chair of the Northern Land Council Samuel Bush-Blanasi from the Northern Territory, Indigenous instrumentalist and composer William Barton from Queensland, body image educator Taryn Brumfitt from South Australia, cultural diversity champion John Kamara from Tasmania, paediatrician Dr Angraj Khillan from Victoria, and end-of-life care expert Professor Samar Aoun. Australia’s Local Hero was anti-food waste campaigner Ronnie Kahn.

Taryn Brumfitt’s chosen piece is an artwork featuring the faces of children from the Embrace Kids film.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said the recipients had chosen objects that are deeply personal, reflecting their life’s story, work and experiences. “We are thrilled to feature these captivating objects selected by eight extraordinary individuals. Objects underpin the biography of a person, reveal significant moments in a person’s life, and connect to the broader social or political impact the person has had. We invite all Australians to see the objects on display, discover the remarkable stories of the Australians who selected them and reflect on the issues they raise.”

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Karlie Brand, commended the outstanding achievements and work of the recipients. “Each and every one of these exemplary Australians is making a difference and taking action to help others or bring about change. Their endeavours remind us of the power we all have to make a difference,” Ms Brand said.

National Museum Curator, Mikhala Harkins-Foster, admired the way the selected objects help everyone to connect with the life journeys of the recipients. “It makes their achievements more inspiring and relatable. These objects have been kept or created for a reason and now, in being shared, enable us to connect with the recipients in a personal way. They help us to see the people behind the achievements.”

“King of the Kids” Dr Raj, as he is known, began his journey to paediatrics while having children of his own. The mug was a gift from patient Millie.

This year’s exhibition also features an artwork titled Order of the Teaspoon created by 2010 Australia’s Local Hero and founder of OzHarvest Ronni Kahn to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Local Hero category. Introduced in 2003, the award acknowledges everyday Australians who make a significant contribution to their local community.

Each year, the Australian of the Year Awards celebrate the achievements and contributions of eminent Australians who are role models for us all. The 2023 Australian of the Year exhibition will be on display at the National Museum until Sunday 12 February 2023 and will then tour nationally.



What: Australian of the Year Exhibition
Where: National Museum of Australia
When: Now until 12 February 2023 and then touring nationally

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