2019 TAS Australian of the Year Nominees Announced

Posted 13 November 2018 12:24pm




Advocates for people with disability and teenage parents, volunteers, a youth worker, a charity founder, a cookbook author and a soccer coach are among nominees for the 2019 Tasmania Australian of the Year Awards.

The nominees announced today are in the running to be named Tasmania Australian of the Year, Tasmania Senior Australian of the Year, Tasmania Young Australian of the Year and Tasmania Local Hero.

The 2019 Tasmania Award nominees are:


Bernadette Black GAICD - Advocate for teenage parents (Blackmans Bay)

Jason Schmidt - Advocate for people with disability (Hobart)

Dr Catherine Wheatley - Charity founder (Hobart)


Glynis Devereux - Netball advocate (Greater Hobart region)

David Hayden - Lifeline volunteer (Hobart) Barry Wilson OAM - Volunteer (Hobart)

Sally Wise - Cookbook author (Molesworth)


Emily Briffa - Social Entrepreneur (Hobart)

Olivia Fleming - Volunteer (Hobart)

Larissa Hall - Youth worker (Hobart)

Kirby Medcraft - Assistant Principal (Hobart)


Dudley Billing - Youth advocate (NW Tasmania)

Eddie Mohamed - Soccer coach (West Hobart)

Vicki Purnell - Volunteer (Devonport)

Norman Reed - Pastor and humanitarian (Hobart)

*see bios  following 

The Tasmania Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero Award recipients will be announced on Friday 16 November 2018 at Government House in Hobart.

The Tasmania Award recipients will join other State and Territory recipients from around Australia in the national awards, which will be held in Canberra on 25 January 2019.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Karlie Brand, said the Tasmania nominees are among more than 120 people being recognised in all States and Territories as part of the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards. "The Tasmania nominees are championing inclusion, ability, accessibility and providing support for people in need – their efforts are creating change and improving lives,” said Ms Brand.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au


AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR Bernadette Black GAICD Advocate for teenage parents

As a once 16-year-old mother, Bernie is the founder and CEO of BRAVE Foundation, Australia's only national organisation, supporting and representing 8,300 expectant and parenting teens in each year. This year, after over 12 years of lobbying Federal ministers and National Human Rights Commissioners, BRAVE Foundation was awarded $4.4 M to run a nationwide trial connecting 350 expecting and parenting teens to education and support opportunities. With a strong sense of destiny, Bernie overcame adversity to finish her education; becoming a qualified nurse, upskilled her corporate governance capacity, enabling her to be appointed to Boards and strengthening her influence internationally to highlight acceptance and care around every person facing teenage pregnancy and parenthood, so that they can grow a healthy family. Bernie has been Awarded Barnardos Australian Mother of the Year and Telstra Tasmanian Woman of the Year

Jason Schmidt Advocate for people with disability

Convinced that everyone has the right to belong to a team and be part of something bigger than themselves, Jason Schmidt founded the Hurricanes Inclusion Cup in 2017. The first cricket program in Southern Tasmania to include people with disability, the Hurricanes Inclusion Cup has grown from five participants in Hobart to more than sixty across the state. Playing cricket in a fun, semi-competitive environment has changed people’s lives through cricket. Jason has now also established the New Town All Abilities program, that works to include these cricketers into mainstream cricket clubs. In recognition of Jason’s inspirational leadership, he was awarded Cricket Australia's Volunteer of the Year for 2018. Jason volunteers and works for Special Olympics Australia, coaching, travelling, and organising sporting opportunities for Tasmanian athletes. Jason also volunteers for various community sporting organisations and at schools for events like Pink Stumps Day. Jason exemplifies the passion that exists among Australians to give everyone a fair go.

Dr Catherine Wheatley Charity founder

While walking through the Simien Mountain National Park in North Ethiopia in 2014, Dr Catherine Wheatley, a former nurse and now a doctor of bio-chemistry, was moved by the poverty and challenges faced by the local people. In a village where women walked many hours each day to collect water and children were ill from water and hygiene-related illnesses, Catherine installed a hand dug well. She subsequently founded the charity Water for a Village (WFAV) in 2014, to install clean water sources for other villages. Since then, she has raised over $170,000 in donations and is on-the-ground in Ethiopia when wells are built. Catherine’s contribution has seen the health of local children improve, reducing absences from school due to sickness. Local women are also healthier, as they no longer need to walk many hours each day to collect water. Amazingly, WFAV has installed over 33 water sources which are providing clean water to over 10,000 people in the Simien Mountains and at least 6 more to be installed in February 2019.


Glynis Devereux, 69 Netball advocate

Since becoming President of the Southern Tasmania Netball Association more than 25 years ago, Glynis Devereux has worked tirelessly to promote the enjoyment of netball in her community. Glynis’ contribution to the sport encompasses support of girls, boys, women and men in all levels of the game. Glynis was the driving force behind the development of the netball stadium complex at Creek Road, New Town, lobbying politicians and councillors for financial support to develop the much-needed facilities. Glynis develops, organises and leads school-holiday programs for primary-school children, encouraging girls and boys to be physically active and to participate in team sport. As secretary of the Southern Tasmanian Independent Primary Schools Association she organises rosters and events for the association. Under Glynis’ innovative and creative leadership, the sport of netball is continuing to thrive and expand in southern Tasmania. She was a Tasmanian Volunteering Lynden Builders Sport and Recreation Award Finalist in 2016, recognising her significant contribution to netball.

David Hayden, 74 Lifeline volunteer

In the battle for people’s lives, David Hayden has been fighting despair with hope for 25 years. As a regular volunteer counsellor with Lifeline Tasmania since 1994, his soft, empathic, caring nature makes people feel understood and valued – and helps reduce the incidence of suicide. At Lifeline, David is a team leader, mentor and trainer. He heads up a small group of volunteers, who travel around Tasmania at their own expense, offering face-toface support to people at high risk of suicide – including those who have been released from hospital following a suicide attempt. David also volunteers at the Cancer Support Centre in Hobart, assisting patients of all ages at various stages of cancer, and is a pastor at the United Pentecostal Church of Tasmania. For his work supporting some of Tasmania’s most vulnerable people, David was awarded the 2018 Mary Parsissons Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award and the 2014 Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network LIFE Award. Barry Wilson OAM, 74 Volunteer Believing that every child deserves the chance to experience riding a bike, Barry Wilson co-founded the Freedom Wheels program in 2010 to help children with a disability learn to ride. A joint initiative between not-for-profit TADTas and the Tascare Society for Children, Barry is a member of a 12-strong team that custom-builds bikes to meet each child’s needs, so that they will have a safe and comfortable ride. Barry uses his technical skills to build or refurbish about 20 bikes each year. So far, he has helped more than 120 children with disability to ride a bike for the first time. This has provided children of all ages the freedom to ride to school, a sense of achievement, social inclusion, independence, and the opportunity to ride with their family. Barry is a tireless fundraiser and advocate for Freedom Wheels and has served on the Board of TADTas since 2006. His work was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal in 2018.

Sally Wise, 67 Cookbook author

Sally Wise is a kitchen guru, author and media presenter who is dedicated to equipping everyday people to prepare nourishing food with accessible ingredients. Sally learned cooking from her Grandma and then taught others how to cook on a volunteer basis. Sally’s skills became widely recognised and in 2006 she received a request from ABC radio in Hobart, seeking a presenter to lead a discussion on jams and preserves. This led to Sally’s book A Year in a Bottle which sold tens of thousands of copies; the first of 15 popular cookbooks. Sally launched a program at Risdon prison to teach soon-to-be released inmates cooking skills. She also speaks to community groups to promote better nutrition using accessible ingredients. In addition, Sally helps new businesses in the food sector to optimise their recipes and techniques on a pro bono basis. She has built a business from her farm at Molesworth where she demonstrates the integration of food production and cooking.


Emily Briffa, 29 Social Entrepreneur

Emily Briffa is a social entrepreneur providing opportunities for people who face barriers to employment. When Emily moved to Hobart she noticed Tasmania’s high level of unemployment and left her job as a chef to cofound Hamlet in 2016, a not-for-profit social enterprise with a difference. Hamlet provides practical work experience and hands-on training placements to people who face employment barriers such as limited English, long-term unemployment, physical or intellectual disabilities. Hamlet has developed hands-on training programs for people seeking to gain experience in hospitality. More than 200 participants have completed over 11,000 hours of work experience and one third of participants have subsequently found paid employment. Hamlet is built on a foundation of community, a safe place where people can grow, learn and refine skills and empower themselves into the next chapter of their lives. Emily works untiringly in fundraising, community outreach, program and training development, communications and marketing all while managing the café operations. She fosters self-confidence and hope in people who previously felt that their options were limited.

Olivia Fleming, 22 Volunteer

In high school there were many times when Olivia Fleming’s friends were struggling, and she didn’t know how best to support them. So, she founded The Little Help Project in 2014 while in her last year at school. The Little Help Project was designed by students for students and is centred on targeting mental health issues and empowering the youth of Tasmania to be their best selves and reach their full potential. The Project provides programs for people in grades 6 up to tertiary education, and includes interactive challenges, activities and compelling speakers, that are all aimed at combatting the negative culture which can develop in the early years of high school. Olivia oversees selfdefence and development classes and teaches young women about confidence, consent and boundaries. She has volunteered in over 30 week-long programs, facilitated camps and community initiatives. Through The Little Help Project, Olivia leads 25 volunteers and has helped 8,000 young people build resilience and self-esteem.

Larissa Hall, 25 Youth worker

Losing her mother to suicide, Larissa Hall had a troubled early teen life. Between shelters and life on the streets, she turned to drugs, alcohol and suicide attempts. Overcoming enormous challenges, she got her first job and house at age 16 and turned everything around. She studied to be a qualified youth worker and has worked with Youth Off The Streets, with Young children in residential care that are in child safety services, as a relief facility supervisor for young people, and as a crisis support worker in a male and female youth shelter. Larissa is currently working as a shelter support worker for Catholic Care’s Annie Kenney Young Woman's Shelter the very shelter where Larissa resided at as a teenager. Larissa is using her experiences to help teenagers in similar circumstances. She has provided inspiration and hope, prevented suicides, helped teenagers out of drug and alcohol use, and into employment, education and housing. Through her passion and commitment, Larissa has changed lives.

Kirby Medcraft, 29 Assistant Principal

Passionate about maximising parent engagement in their child’s learning, Assistant Principal Kirby Medcraft at Windermere Primary School is an innovator. Kirby’s Bedtime Stories Afternoon inspired over 200 parents to attend school to read with their child. Her work building strong partnerships with families has seen a distinct shift in the school culture. Kirby works closely with early childhood teachers, mentoring and modelling best practice. She is responsible for leading the implementation of a play based, inquiry approach across the early years and bringing about educational change. She embraces opportunities for professional learning and in April 2018 attended an international study tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy to further develop her understanding of this approach to education. Kirby’s dedication and successful teaching practices have made her a role model with teachers and peers at other schools. Kirby won the prestigious University of Tasmania, Faculty of Education Teaching Excellence Award in the 2018 Tasmanian Young Achiever Awards and the 2014 RBF Department of Education Awards for Excellence.


Dudley Billing Youth advocate

Starting at age 13 when Dudley Billing served as an active member of Circular Head Council’s first Youth Leadership Committee, Dudley has served his local community. After working overseas and interstate, Dudley returned to Smithton, Circular Head, in 2014 and took up a Rural Health youth work position – becoming the coordinator of the 7UP youth centre. He has facilitated and produced countless youth programs, including the award-winning 2016 ABC Heywire documentary Two Trains, which explored ice addiction in the Circular Head region. Dudley participated in the inaugural Tasmanian Community Fund Emerging Community Leaders program and was the valedictorian for 2017. Dudley divides his working time between the Department of Education where he runs an in-house youth radio station with Smithton Primary School, and the 7UP Youth Centre. Dudley is now working on a new mental health and suicide prevention event called Where's Your Head @? and the roll-out of Big hART's acclaimed family-violence prevention Project O to Circular Head.

Eddie Mohamed Soccer coach

Not being given an opportunity to play regularly in Hobart's soccer clubs, and with a desire to play a different style of soccer Eddie Mohamed and a group of other African-background soccer players created the Hobart United Football Club in 2002. The club now sports players from 22 nationalities, many of whom have a refugee or asylum-seeking background. What’s more, the club is producing formidable teams, with several players selected for state teams. The club is committed to creating an inclusive environment that enables affordable participation. Eddie is currently the under- 16s coach, and over the years, he has invested heavily in the lives of his players. Through his counselling, mentoring and support, he helps his players to not only be good team members, but also good community citizens. He has been a positive influence and turned around the lives of numerous young people who were at risk of ending up in jail or worse. Eddie shows how sport can be a catalyst to bring people together and create belonging and a stronger community.

Vicki Purnell Volunteer

When the daughter of a friend gave birth to a stillborn child in 2013, Vicki Purnell found a unique and compassionate way to help. Another friend had told her how, when her daughter had lost a tiny baby, the hospital simply did not have the resources to present it to her in a compassionate way. With her talent for sewing, Vicki formed Bridie's Blossoms, creating beautiful outfits for stillborn babies and keepsakes for parents. Since 2013, she has delivered more than 460 Bridie’s Blossoms packages to six Tasmanian hospitals and funeral homes. The garments are designed for ease of dressing fragile little babies. Vicki’s service is unique in Tasmania; everything is handmade, with materials purchased from her own pocket. Vicki has expanded into creating personalized memory quilt keepsake packages and until recently worked with a local woodwork guild to fit-out and line hand-crafted wooden coffins. Vicki uses her skills to ease the trauma for parents of stillborn babies and help farewell them with love and dignity.

Norman Reed Pastor and humanitarian

Norman (Norm) Reed is a pastor who believes in treating his neighbour as he would like to be treated himself. Living next to Risdon Prison, this means – in his own words – ‘the prisoners are my neighbours’. Norm started his involvement in Risdon Prison in 2011 and founded Onesimus Foundation in 2016, to create innovative, life-changing programs focused on maintaining and building the prisoners’ relationships with their families. These programs are not only rich in human compassion but also contribute to reducing crime, as a strong family relationship while a person is in prison is one of the best supports for non-recidivism. Onesimus provides accommodation for families visiting the prison and runs family engagement programs, some facilitated by video technology. In 2016, Norm’s church successfully lobbied for children’s play equipment to be installed at Risdon Prison. Norm collaborates with Government and Non-Government agencies to support prisoners and their families and provides training for professionals working with children affected by parental offending.

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