January 26 is a time to celebrate and reflect on our national spirit, and the Australia Day Address serves to focus our attention on what that means to all of us. Since 1997 the Address has drawn on distinguished members from within the community to express their unique perspective on our nation’s identity and the diversity of our society.
Each year the speaker is encouraged to share their experiences and reflect upon our history and our future, securing the Address as one of the most important Australia Day initiatives.
Eminent speakers from past years include Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Sir Michael Parkinson CBE, Ita Buttrose AO OBE, Associate Professor Charlie Teo AM and Kurt Fearnely OAM.
In 2016, and in celebrating its 20th year, the Australia Day Address speaker will be Deng Thiak Adut.
Australia Day Address Speakers
Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG
Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG served with distinction in the Australian Army and Special Air Service Regiment. His service includes operational deployments to East Timor, Fiji, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ben is a recipient of the highest award in the Australian military honours system, the Victoria Cross for Australia, awarded in 2011 for the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril in Afghanistan. Ben was also awarded the Medal for Gallantry in 2006 and the Commendation for Distinguished Service in 2013. He is the Commonwealth’s most highly decorated serviceman from the war in Afghanistan.
Ben’s contribution to Australia extends well beyond his military service; he is Patron of the White Cloud Foundation who assist sufferers of depression and Wandering Warriors who support current and ex-servicemen. He is also a National Ambassador for Legacy. In November 2014, Ben was appointed as Chair of the National Australia Day Council.
Ita Buttrose AO OBE
Ita was the youngest ever and an unprecedentedly successful Editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly, the founding Editor of Cleo and the first woman to ever edit a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia as Editor-in-Chief of the Sydney Daily and The Sunday Telegraph. Ita was also the first woman appointed to the News Ltd Board. As well as writing eleven very successful books including her best-selling autobiography A Passionate Life, Ita became a host of the TEN Network’s morning program, Studio 10 in November 2013.
Ita received an AO for her services to the community especially in the field of public health education when she spearheaded Australia’s HIV/AIDS Education Program, an OBE for her services to journalism, and a Centenary Medal for business leadership.
Kurt Fearnley OAM
Born without the lower portion of his spine, at the age of 14 Kurt took up wheelchair racing and has since become an elite international athlete, with one gold, two silver and one bronze, Olympic medals. In his highly competitive class, Kurt has not finished off the podium in over 20 marathons he’s competed in since 2000. With an indomitable spirit that is truly inspirational, Kurt was a finalist for the prestigious Laureus Awards for the Most Outstanding International Athlete with Disability and in 2009 was named NSW Young Australian of the Year.
Associate Professor Charles Teo AM
Dr Teo is an internationally acclaimed neurosurgeon and a pioneer in keyhole minimally invasive techniques. He has been invited to many distinguished universities in over 50 countries as Visiting Professor, including Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt and Stanford Universities in the USA, Marburg University in Germany and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Sir Michael Parkinson CBE
Michael Parkinson was born in 1935 in Cudworth, near Barnsley, and was educated at Barnsley Grammar School. His early journalistic experience was gained on several local newspapers in Yorkshire and then The Manchester Guardian until he became a feature writer with The Daily Express in London.
General Peter Cosgrove, AC MC (Retd)
General Peter Cosgrove retired from the Army in 2005. Four year earlier, he had been Australian of the Year. The son of a soldier, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1968. He was sent to Malaysia as a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO
Professor Marie Bashir was born in Narrandera, New South Wales and is a medical graduate of the University of Sydney, a former medical resident officer of St Vincent’s Hospital and of The Children’s Hospital. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
The Hon. James Jacob Spigelman AC
The Honourable James Jacob Spigelman AC is the Lieutenant Governor of NSW and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In 1986 he was appointed as Queen’s Counsel and Acting Solicitor General of New South Wales in 1997. He was then appointed as Chief Justice of New South Wales and Lieutenant Governor in 1998. In 2000 he became a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for services to law and to the community.
Kim Williams has had a long involvement in the arts and entertainment industry in Australia and internationally. Kim was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2006 for service to arts administration through
executive roles with a range of cultural organisations, to music education and the formulation of arts related
David Bussau AM is an inspiring social entrepreneur who has been hailed for his innovative approach to solving world poverty. He challenged the conventional wealth redistribution model of development by pioneering a process known as micro enterprise development (MED), addressing the root causes of poverty through responsible wealth creation.
David is the founder of Opportunity International Australia, a partner organisation in a global network that provides small loans and training to budding entrepreneurs in 27 developing countries, empowering them to start or expand their own small businesses.
Richard Pratt AC
Richard Pratt, AC, is Chairman of Visy Industrie’s; a privately owned Melbourne based packaging and recycling company employing almost 8000 people in Australasia and the USA. Visy’s total manufacturing sales exceed $3 billion. In 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, Visy was named Australia’s leading company for environmental performance in a national survey of Australia’s top 100 companies. In 2004 Visy received Australia’s most prestigious environment award, the Gold Banksia Award and the Banksia Foundation’s Business Environmental Excellence and Leadership award.
In recent years Richard has focussed his attention on finding ways for Australia to address the challenge of better managing its scarce water resources.