NSW Australian of the Year School Students' Forum

All four recipients of the 2023 NSW Australian of the Year Awards paid a visit to Western Sydney University to share their inspirational life stories with high school students.

The School Students' Forum was held on Friday, 1 September at the Parramatta South Campus, with high school students from Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains invited to attend.

The event was a wonderful opportunity for school students to meet and be inspired by high-achieving Australians from across the state.

The recipients who took part were current NSW Australian of the Year Craig Foster AM, NSW Senior Australian of the Year Teresa Plane, NSW Australian of the Year Local Hero Amar Singh and NSW Young Australian of the Year Lottie Dalziel.

Students heard about the personal journeys of these NSW Australian of the Year recipients, learned how they’ve all made such significant impacts in their chosen fields and were invited to take part in a Q&A session.

The Australian of the Year Awards are managed by the National Australia Day Council (NADC). 

See some of the best bits from the 2023 Forum

Craig Foster AM

2023 NSW Australian of the Year

2023 NSW Australian of the Year Australian of the Year Salty Dingo 2022 BH 2260

Craig Foster AM is one of Australia’s most powerful voices for the disadvantaged.

The 29-times-capped Socceroo and award-winning sports broadcaster has spent the past decade campaigning for refugee rights and marginalised communities. He also promotes anti-racism, allyship and what he calls ‘active multiculturalism’ – communities protecting each other.

Craig was influential in helping the Afghan Women's National Football Team, Paralympians, taekwondo athletes and many other girls and women escape Afghanistan as the Taliban took hold of the country in August 2021.

Two years earlier, Craig helped secure the release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi who faced extradition to Bahrain from Thailand. More recently, he led a campaign to free refugees still trapped off and onshore in Australia.

Patron of Australia’s Indigenous football teams, Craig works tirelessly for a better Australia including the 'Racism. It Stops With Me' and #RacismNotWelcome campaigns, and volunteers at the Addison Road Community Organisation and food pantry in Sydney’s Inner West.

Teresa Plane

2023 NSW Senior Australian of the Year

Former nurse Teresa Plane is recognised as a pioneer of modern palliative care in Australia.

Her devotion began late one night during a drive home from hospital as she listened to a life-changing interview with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. As she heard her discuss the five stages of dying, Teresa realised she’d always been a death-denying nurse.

She was inspired to study palliative care methods overseas before opening a hospice and palliative care unit at Mt Carmel Hospital in western Sydney in 1978.

Teresa admitted patients on a needs basis rather than their ability to pay. She also launched a home care program, supported by a charity she’d established to advocate on behalf of the dying.

She later established Macquarie Hospice, a home care and day care centre and spoke many times at international forums, universities and national conferences.

Teresa continues advocating and volunteering as she approaches 90 years.

2023 NSW Senior Australian of the Year Teresa Plane Salty Dingo 2022 BH 2236

Amar Singh

2023 NSW Local Hero

2023 NSW Local Hero Amar Singh Salty Dingo 2022 BH 2248 1

Amar Singh believes helping others should not be limited by religion, language or cultural background.

Amar founded a charity after experiencing racial slurs and insults because of his Sikh turban and beard. He wanted to show people they didn’t need to be afraid and began helping struggling Australians.

Every week, Turbans 4 Australia package and distribute up to 450 food and grocery hampers to people experiencing food insecurity in Western Sydney.

They also raise awareness and funds for important causes while promoting multiculturalism and religious tolerance. But the organisation is best known around Australia since its founding in 2015 for transporting emergency goods to those in need.

Turbans 4 Australia has delivered hay to farmers experiencing drought; supplies to flood victims in Lismore and bushfire-impacted people on the South Coast; food hampers to the isolated and vulnerable during COVID-19 lockdowns; and supplies to the Salvation Army in central Queensland in the devastating wake of Cyclone Marcia.

Lottie Dalziel

2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year

Lottie Dalziel didn’t realise how hard it was to get accurate information about recycling and waste when she made a New Year Resolution to be kinder to the planet.

Rather than be disheartened, Lottie saw an opportunity. She founded Banish the same year as her resolution – 2018 – and made it her aim to provide Australians with reliable information and methods to reduce waste.

The Banish website and social media account is full of sustainability information, from how-to guides on composting to advice on planet-friendly food choices.

Lottie also runs BRAD – the Banish Recycling and Disposal Program. People send in hard-to-recycle items, such as blister packs, and Banish uses its partnership with TerraCycle to have them recycled in Australia.

The BRAD initiative recycled 11 tonnes of waste, or 150,000 products, from 11,000 households within its first 20 months.

Lottie delivered a TED talk in 2020 on the power of community to fight climate change.

2023 NSW Young Australian of the Year Lottie Dalziel Salty Dingo 2022 BH 2280

View photos from the event

Australia Day in NSW Partners