This January 26 more than 120 Australia Day Ambassadors from different backgrounds will come together to celebrate Australia Day 2019 with communities across NSW.
From the catwalk to the country, this year’s Ambassadors include Sydney-based model Samantha Harris, farmer and mental health advocate John Harper, as well as marathon swimmer Susie Maroney OAM.
Australia Day Council of NSW Chairman Angelos Frangopoulos AM said each year Ambassadors are a drawcard for celebration in hundreds of communities across the state.
“Australia Day Ambassadors are past recipients of the Australian of the Year Awards, athletes, scientists, entrepreneurs, entertainers and community workers.
“The NSW Ambassador Program — now in its 28th year — is a great opportunity to reinforce the diversity of Australia’s high achievers. I would like to thank all our 2019 Ambassadors for their time and commitment,” Mr Frangopoulos said.
The theme for Australia Day this year is Everyone, Every Story. As Australia Day means different things to different people, it is everyone’s chance to come together to share their stories that are passed through the community The inspiring line up of Ambassadors will celebrate the importance of diversity, share their unique stories and inspire others to do the same.
“From Newcastle to Nyngan, Tamworth to Turramurra, Wagga Wagga to Woolloomooloo our Ambassadors volunteer their time to inspire pride in us all on Australia Day,” Mr Frangopoulos said.
John Harper from Stockinbingal in the Riverina region, who describes himself as an ‘ordinary bush bloke’, is honoured to be an Ambassador.
“I am very proud to be part of a nation that still recognises the efforts of ordinary members of our communities who continually make Australia the 'Lucky Country'.
“Australia only exists because of us, ordinary individuals, every day families in local communities. Local communities are a foundation block on which Australia has been successfully built,” said Mr Harper.
Many much-loved Ambassadors are back again in 2019, including veteran actress Lorrae Desmond MBE, rugby league great Peter Wynn and motivational speaker and the ‘voice of Blinky Bill’ Robyn Moore.
For media personality Susie Elelman AM, 2019 will be her 21st year as an Australia Day Ambassador.
“The most rewarding duty on Australia Day is to deliver the keynote speech during the official ceremony,” she said.
“I get the chance to tell my family's story and it's so rewarding to have so many people come up to me afterwards to say how much my speech resonated with them share their unique stories with me.”
Other new Australia Day Ambassadors this year include 20-year-old skateboarding champion Amar Hadid.
“It is of the highest importance that we celebrate Australia Day with local communities to reinforce and remind us that when we come together we can overcome all obstacles and work as one,” Ms Hadid said.
International yachtsman and mental health advocate Allan Sparkes OAM CV values being an Australia Day Ambassador.
“It’s the opportunity to travel to different parts of this extraordinary country and learn from others about how they are overcoming the challenges faced in today's world,” he said.
Antarctic station leader Narelle Campbell recalls Australia Day in the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent in the world as a unique experience with Australiana costumes, pies, a few beers and a very competitive game of cricket.
Ms Campbell said her role as an Ambassador back home is most rewarding.
“To see first-hand the excitement and emotion on the faces of those being recognised for their achievements and contributions to the community, and the individuals and families receiving their citizenship. A very humbling experience,” she said.
Romance novelist Valerie Parv AM said she loves serving as an Ambassador in regional communities.
“Having the chance to talk about, not 200 years but 60,000 years of Australian history, reminding all of us that the First Australians celebrated their experiences and stories exactly as we do today,” she said.
“It's a unique privilege to honour all Australians as part of the oldest civilisation on Earth.”
As the son of an immigrant Greek father who spent his life working as a publican, artist Yianni Johns said he is honoured to have been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2010.
“The most rewarding thing for me is the moment I walk on stage to deliver my address. I am there sharing my story with people who have invited me to share Australia Day with them,” Mr Johns said.
“Over those years I have met some outstanding Australians and developed friendships from my Australia Day visits to towns and communities, all over the State.”
The Australia Day Council of NSW is encouraging everyone to get involved in the fun, colour and excitement of Australia Day 2019, including the many community events on offer across the State alongside their Ambassadors.