Three Kingborough locals were among the four Tasmanians who were considered at the national level for Australian of the Year award honours in their respective categories on Monday, January 25.
There were 33 finalists across the four award categories for 2021 including Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero including health leaders, bushfire heroes, pandemic helpers, scientists, environmental guardians, human rights advocates and Indigenous leaders.
Brian Williams of Blackmans Bay was being considered for Senior Australian of the Year, Toby Thorpe of Kingston for Young Australian of the Year and Edna Pennicott of Kingston for Australia’s Local Hero after each won their respective award at a state level.
Although none of the three local winners were chosen as the national winner of their category, fellow Tasmanian Grace Tame was declared the 2021 Australian of the Year for her work as an empowerment advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.
As a student, Grace was groomed and sexually abused by a St Michael’s Collegiate School teacher who was later found guilty and jailed for his crimes.
Gag laws prevented Grace from speaking about her experience until she won the legal right to self-identify as a rape survivor in order to push for legal reform and raise public awareness through the #letherspeak campaign.
Grace continues to be a passionate campaigner to increase public awareness about the impacts of sexual violence.
Premier of Tasmania, the Honourable Peter Gutwein MP congratulated Grace on the “incredible recognition of her powerful advocacy for survivors of sexual assault” as well as congratulation all the Tasmanians considered for the national honours.
“This is the first time a Tasmanian has been named Australian of the Year in the award program’s 61-year history,” explained Premier Gutwein.
“As the national winner, Grace stands among a field of inspirational Australians and I look forward with anticipation to seeing the powerful difference and change she makes over the next year and beyond.
“I would also like to recognise and acknowledge all our 2021 Tasmanian category winners whom we are all so proud of including:
“Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year, respected Scout leader, Brian Williams.
“Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year, youth empowerment and climate action leader, Toby Thorpe.
“Tasmania’s Local Hero, founder of local organisation Kingborough Helping Hands, Edna Pennicott,” said Premier Gutwein.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White also congratulated Grace on recognition of her groundbreaking work.
“Grace has given a voice to the survivors of sexual abuse in Tasmania,” Ms White said.
“Her achievements are powerful and allow those who were previously silenced to now be heard.
“The power of her words has already had a profound impact here in Tasmania and there is no doubt that Grace will now make an impact on the national stage.
“Anyone who watched her acceptance speech will be left with no doubt that Grace will bring dignity, purpose, passion and fierce determination to her role as Australian of the Year.”
Ms White also offered her congratulations to the Kingborough Tasmanians of the Year.
“Tasmanians can also be proud of the achievements of Toby Thorpe, Edna Pennicott OAM and Brian Williams who represented our state on the national stage at the awards event,” Ms White expressed.
“The strength of our community is built on the good will and hard work of so many people and we thank them all for their service.”
National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Karlie Brand, said the national finalists reflected the many faces of Australian society and the many ways in which many Australians contributed in times of crisis.
“Many of the award finalists are champions of causes and issues which require long-term dedication and passion,” said Ms Brand.
“These are the people who make our nation and our communities great, real people doing important work and showing leadership when it’s needed most.”
Pictured above are Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year, youth empowerment and climate action leader Toby Thorpe of Kingston, 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year, scout leader Brian Williams of Blackmans Bay and Tasmania’s Local Hero, Edna Pennicott of Kingston. (PS)