Historic Victory for Women at Australian of the Year Awards
26 January 2015 at 12:27 am
Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty of Victoria has been announced as the 2015 Australian of the Year, with women taking the top honours in all four award categories for the first time.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the Australian of the Year Awards at a public event in front of Parliament House in Canberra last night.
Joining Batty atop the honours list was 2015 Young Australian of the Year and deaf advocate Drisana Levitzke-Gray of Western Australia, 2015 Senior Australian of the Year and children’s author Jackie French of NSW and charity founder Juliette Wright, who was named 2015 Australia's Local Hero.
Rosie Batty has championed efforts to fight domestic violence following the death of her son Luke at the hands of his father, rising above her personal tragedy to shine a spotlight on the issue and call for systemic changes.
In her acceptance speech, Batty said she was truly honoured and dedicated the award to her son.
"He is the reason I have found my voice and I am able to be heard," Batty said. "Family violence may happen behind closed doors but it needs to be brought out from these shadows and into broad daylight."
"As the Australian of the Year, I’m committed to building greater campaigns to educate and challenge community attitudes. I am on a path to expose family violence and to ensure that victims receive the respect, support and safety that they deserve.
"And to Luke, my little man, you did not die in vain and will not be forgotten. You are beside me on this journey and with me every step of the way.”
Batty, who was also recently named as a member of Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25, took the top prize ahead of an esteemed list of finalists including child advocate and adoption campaigner Deborra-lee Furness from NSW, child protection activist Hetty Johnston AM from Queensland, scientist Professor Lyn Beazley AO from Western Australia, peace campaigner Dr Gill Hicks MBE from South Australia, equality activist Rodney Croome AM from Tasmania, business and philanthropic leader Glenn Keys from the Australian Capital Territory and humanitarian Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM from the Northern Territory.
"It is a great moment in the 55 year history of these Awards to honour four women,” Chairman of the National Australia Day Council, Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, said.
"Rosie, Jackie, Drisana and Juliette remind us of the many ways in which women contribute to our nation – that women are a force for change, a voice for rights, influencers, educators and the heart of our communities.
"From an extraordinary group of finalists, all of whom are inspirational Australians and great ambassadors for their home states and territories, we have four Award recipients who stand as role models to us all."
Women also dominated the shortlist for the awards, including senior women in the Not for Profit and philanthropic sectors.
Six of the eight finalists for the 2015 Australian of the Year Award were women – the highest number of female finalists in the category since the State and Territory award process was introduced in 2003. Of the 32 finalists across all four award categories, 17 were women.
Read Pro Bono Australia’s story on outgoing Australian of the Year Adam Goodes here.