Meet the NSW state finalists in the Australian of the Year awards.
Elizabeth Broderick - Social change innovator (Sydney)
It takes a special person to bring together captains of industry and Defence Force chiefs to address gender inequality. But that’s exactly what Elizabeth Broderick has done. As Sex Discrimination Commissioner from 2007 to 2015, Elizabeth was single-minded in her determination to break down the structural and social barriers preventing women from reaching their potential. A key advocate for Australia’s national paid parental leave scheme, Elizabeth fought for changes to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles to increase the number of women at decision-making level. She developed the Male Champions of Change strategy, enlisting a ‘who’s who’ of powerful businessmen to tackle sex discrimination in the workplace and her review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force led to large-scale cultural change. Elizabeth has advised the United Nations, NATO, established mentoring programs for women and is a loud voice in the struggle against gender-based violence. Elizabeth continues to speak out and to strive for gender equality.
Patricia Garcia - Humanitarian (Sydney)
For the past decades, Patricia Garcia has lived and worked in war zones. From Afghanistan to Sudan, Bosnia to Burma, Patricia has managed humanitarian relief and recovery programs in some of the world’s longest running conflicts. Witnessing first-hand the violence and brutal exploitation of women and girls in armed conflicts, Patricia has broken the silence so that women’s voices can be heard. While in Sudan, she brought attention to the invisible problem of female genital mutilation. In Bosnia, she collected the personal testimonies of female survivors in the landmark case at the International Criminal Tribunal which found rape in war a crime against humanity. In Afghanistan, she fought the entrenched system of violence against women. Closer to home, she’s supported refugees making a new start in Australia and has designed the human rights course for the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Through Patricia’s courageous efforts, the world is finally listening to the stories and suffering of women in war.
Dr Ian Nicholson - Heart surgeon (Russell Lea)
One of Australia’s leading cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr Ian Nicholson has a heart of gold. A regular volunteer with Open Heart International since his first trip to Fiji in 1994, Ian has travelled throughout the Pacific and Africa to give people in developing countries the lifesaving surgery they deserve yet cannot afford. Each year, Ian lands in places like Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Cambodia to run a ‘patient production line’ that treats both children and adults suffering from a range of treatable conditions – from congenital heart defects to rheumatic heart disease. With selfless generosity, Ian has mentored medical teams in developing countries for two decades, passing on his skills and knowledge to help them gain self-sufficiency. Operating in a number of hospitals throughout Sydney including Sydney Adventist Hospital, Ian also represents the interests of Open Heart International within the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Donating countless hours and immeasurable expertise, Ian gives many people, both young and old, a second chance at life.
Ben Quilty - Artist (Southern Highlands)
Whether it’s capturing the human cost of war, a life on death row or the faded lines of beauty, Ben Quilty’s art tugs at the heartstrings. As the official war artist in Afghanistan, Ben recorded and interpreted the experiences of Australian service men and women, revealing the internal struggles and bravery discovered in conflict. His paintings now hang in the Australian War Memorial. Ben won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of the artist Margaret Olley in the year before her death, and painted Myuran Sukumaran as he awaited execution in Bali. Leading a campaign which called for Myuran and Andrew Chan to be spared, Ben also mentored Myuran for four years, helping him transmute some of the trauma of his death sentence into art. A mentor to many more young artists, Ben is also a filmmaker, a reconciliation supporter and a champion of young men and boys determined to find a different voice for masculinity in Australia.