CANBERRA women have ruled all four ACT Australian of the Year awards with rugby league pioneer Katrina Fanning named the 2020 ACT Australian of the Year.
Katrina, a Wiradjuri woman, was presented the award last night (October 28) at the National Gallery of Australia.
She’s been part of the rugby league community for more than 25 years and during that time the 46-year-old had a successful career as a player, was appointed manager of the Indigenous Women’s All Stars team, chairperson of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council and president of the Canberra and Australian Women’s Rugby League Associations.
In 2014, she was named Canberra Woman of the Year, and ACT NAIDOC Person of the Year. Then, this year, Katrina was the third woman to be appointed to the Canberra Raiders Board of Directors. Katrina brings enormous management capability to the appointment, having worked in senior roles with Centrelink, Aboriginal Hostels, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, as well as holding positions on various committees and boards.
Katrina is also director of Coolamon Advisors, an indigenous majority-owned and managed consultancy and firmly believes the ACT can lead the way nationally for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people outcomes, in creating and leading their own solutions.
ACT Senior Australian of the Year went to disability advocate Sue Salthouse, 70, of Kingston. Sue was 45 when a horse-riding accident led her into a new life in a wheelchair where she experienced first-hand the systemic inequality facing people with disabilities. Having been committed to social justice all her life, Sue was determined to bring about positive change.
First invited to work for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), she began advocating for the right of people with disabilities to accessible housing, economic security and the chance to contribute to society. In 2015, Sue was Canberra Citizen of the Year, recognising her outstanding commitment and contribution as a disability advocate. Sue now runs a consultancy company specialising in disability rights advocacy and works in the disability sector.
She has also worked extensively with a number of organisations to develop leadership training projects for women, and actions to combat domestic violence. Sue holds positions on a number of boards including the Independent Advisory Council of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Expert Panel in the ACT.
Sustainability advocate Madeline Diamond, 22, was named the ACT Young Australian of the Year and is the founder of Trash Mob, a youth-led community group that meets every month to pick up rubbish in public areas in Canberra.
Under Madeline’s leadership, young people are working together to take control of the future they would like to see. A 100 per cent volunteer-powered organisation, Trash Mob has established sister groups in Yass and Canberra, and is working to establish groups in other towns and cities.
Madeline is also the executive officer of SEE-Change, a community organisation encouraging Canberrans to live more sustainably, and supporting grassroots environmental action around the ACT. Her role is to engage young people and provide greater opportunities for them in the sustainability space. Her achievements include initiating the Young Changemakers Workshop and overseeing the annual Parliament of Youth on Sustainability event. She also recently received an ACT Government Community Zero Emissions Grant to host a film festival and competition on the theme of sustainability.
And, Julia Rollings, who has been a foster carer for more than two decades, was named the ACT Local Hero. Over Julia’s career she’s supported 50 babies, children and young people through difficult periods of their lives.
As a volunteer crisis carer, she often looks after infants who are medically fragile, withdrawing from drugs, or who have experienced significant trauma. Julia’s dedication and relentless passion for Canberra’s most vulnerable children sees her spend up to months in hospital – caring for babies who may transition home to their birth families or to long-term care. In 2009, she was awarded Barnardos ACT Mother of the Year Award for her work as a champion for children’s rights.
Drawing on past experience in the out-of-home care sector, Julia supports other carers through her role on the Carer Wellbeing Sub-Committee. She has also held various volunteer positions within adoption support groups, including president of the Adoptive Families Association (ACT). An adoptive mother to seven children, Julia recorded her story in her book “Love Our Way”.
The four ACT recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on January 25.