NSW Australia Day Ambassadors connect with communities around the State

From Olympians and Paralympians, environmentalists and foodies, to humanitarians and local heroes - more than 100 remarkable Australians will participate in Australia Day 2022 activities around the state,  meaningful stories and connecting with communities.

These high achieving individuals will head to all corners of NSW on 26 January, volunteering their time and energy to contribute to local festivities, with communities encouraged to come together this Australia Day to Reflect, Respect and Celebrate the Australian spirit and our diversity.

For more than 30 years, on our national day, extraordinary individuals from all walks of life, travel to diverse local council events across NSW sharing insights from their varied experiences. From remote and regional towns to cities and suburbs, they deliver meaningful and uplifting addresses that capture the true spirit of our nation, they embrace communities, celebrate diversity and listen to people’s stories.

This year’s mix includes long-time Ambassadors such as celebrity chef Lyndey Milan OAM who will head to Dubbo; Ralph and Kathy Kelly, founders of the Stay Kind Foundation, going to Corowa; Corey Payne, NSW Young Australian of the Year 2013 and former NRL player will inspire the crowd at the Fairfield City Council event; and Keith Potger AO, founding member of The Seekers will head to Uralla.

Many councils are planning COVID-safe activities for Australia Day with the aim to reconnect people and communities after many months of hardship, with Ambassadors taking part in a range of events from Award and Citizenship ceremonies, BBQs to street parades, as well as judging an array of community competitions including Thong Throwing, Watermelon Eating and Paddy Melon Bowls championships.

Olympian James Willett, who competed in trap shooting at the Tokyo Games, will inspire the Albury community on Australia Day talking about his journey so far in his sporting career from the Rio and Tokyo Games, and looking towards Paris 2024 and then Brisbane 2032.

“I’ve represented Australia for eight years now and it’s a privilege to live in the country we do. I’ve had really good support from my community, and I want to give back when I can - and share my experiences and what I’ve learnt from competing and travelling.

“After the challenging past couple of years, the Aussie spirit will bounce back, that’s the message I want to give - to look forward together,” James said.

It’s more Olympic fever for the Lismore community, with Olympians (and married couple) Kaarle McCulloch and Kevin Chavez, heading to the northern NSW town for Australia Day, while Paralympic Swimmer Tiffany Thomas Kane is heading to Bathurst.

Australia Day Council of NSW Chair, Andrew Parker, says the Ambassador Program is truly remarkable and unique, and this year’s group are determined to offer hope to many.

“Community is the backbone of this state, we have seen this time and time again through the many challenges we have experienced as a nation. Australia Day is a time to support each other and more than ever before our Ambassadors will lead the charge this Australia Day.

“Regardless of our origins or our past, it’s a day for Australians from all backgrounds and communities to come together, embrace our diversity, and celebrate our resilience,” he said.

Each NSW Ambassador has a remarkable story to tell, and they share common traits of achievement through hard work, talent, and a strong sense of community. To our longstanding and new Ambassadors, I thank them for making a real and meaningful difference.” Celebrity chef Lyndey Milan OAM who is heading to Dubbo said Australia Day is her favourite day of the year. “This is my 19th  year of being an Ambassador and it is my opportunity to give back to the nation that has given me so much,” she said.

“For me, it is a time to connect with and support our regions. I work in food and wine, and I truly appreciate the many producers and farmers who create the raw ingredients I cook with. They face so many climactic hardships (drought, floods, fires, mouse plagues) and yet continue. So nowhere do I feel closer to the land than in regional areas,” Lyndey said.

“I always request to go the regions on Australia Day, to make an effort as so many others need to make every day. I am able to share my experiences, but in turn, I learn about each area I go to and so truly become an Ambassador for that region. All Australians have had a particularly difficult year this year, so what a wonderful chance for communities to come together, celebrate their local heroes, share a sausage sandwich and a song,” she said.

Ambassador and filmmaker Anupam Sharma, who is heading to Tamworth for Australia Day, says the Program is crucial for boosting the morale and recognising inspirational hard work at so many different levels in our communities and our society.

“This Australia Day is special as we come out of a testing and trying two years of a pandemic. We, as communities, are coming out as winners in this battle with COVID. We have been able to ‘win’ in NSW with our amazing community spirit.”

The NSW Australia Day Ambassador program started with just nine Ambassadors in 1990, more than 900 individuals have participated as Ambassadors since, with some remaining Ambassadors for many years – a testament to their passion and commitment to community.

The NSW Government and Australia Day Council of NSW is looking forward to planning and celebrating Australia 2022, in line with the latest Covid advice.

Australia Day in NSW Partners