Tomorrow evening one of Australia’s outstanding older citizens will be named Senior Australian of Year, so who is in the running for the 2017 honour?
Being honoured for the work you do in any field is indeed an achievement. Yet when you’re nominated for Senior Australian of the Year, not only are you held in high regard in your field, you’re also breaking down the barriers and busting the myth that people have a use-by date.
Last year, Professor Gordian Fulde took home the accolade for his work in emergency medicine at one of the busiest emergency departments in the country, Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital. But perhaps one of the most notable thing about Prof Fulde’s award was the statement he made in his acceptance speech, when he said, “I would like us to appreciate how lucky we are and I would like us to start caring more for the person next to us.” What a truly great sentiment we could surely all benefit from following.
This year’s nominees are no less impressive and to help you get to know them a little better, here’s a short video on each one:
2017 Senior Australian of the Year Finalists
Dick Telford, Sports scientist and coach – ACT
Dr John Knight AM, Doctor and altruist – NSW
Lois Peeler OAM, Indigenous educator – VIC
Margaret Steadman, Sustainable living advocate – TAS
Patricia Buckskin, Educator – SA
Peter Kenyon, Social entrepreneur – WA
Professor Perry Bartlett FAA, Neuroscientist – QLD
Sister Anne Gardiner AM, Community champion – NT
Read more at Australianoftheyear.org.au
I learned a very important lesson from my grandmother, one at the time I didn’t even realise would stand me in good stead as the years progressed.
In the late 80s, when my grandmother was well into her 70s, the UK was hit by the BSE scare, or mad cow disease as it was then known. The disease is essentially transmitted by eating infected meat and attacks the brain, ultimately ending in the death of the victim. Right then and there this frail yet feisty woman decided that she would no longer eat meat. And at the time, I remember having a giggle to myself and thinking, “what’s the point, if you lose your marbles no one will be able to tell if it’s dementia or mad cow disease”.
A couple of years later, having been a smoker all her life, my grandmother decided to give up to show her asthma-suffering much younger neighbour that it could be done. She never smoked another cigarette from that day on – her neighbour had less willpower. It was then, at the age of 18, I realised what a truly phenomenal woman she was – not because she saved the world, or spent her life devoted to a cause, but because she had respect for herself and truly cared for others.
Even though she was my grandmother, she’s in no way unique. Whether it’s doing the shopping for neighbours who can’t manage themselves or feeding the homeless, such as ACT’s Local Hero, Stasia Dabrowski OAM, every dayolder, hard-working people do their very best to help others.
At 92 years of age, Ms Dabrowsk has been feeding the homeless for four decades, making a healthy vegetable soup every Friday and feeding those who need it most. Be inspired by watching her story.
Actions don’t need to be grand to make a difference. Perhaps if we just care a little more we would all benefit and will get Australia back on track to be the truly great country we know it to be.
Who do you think should be voted Senior Australian of the Year? Do you think there’s someone who should have made the list?