Who will be named Young Australian of the Year at the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards?
From nominations submitted by the public, there are 32 people in the running to be named 2023 Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero.
The national finalists for Young Australian of the Year include athletes, performers, community leaders and advocates.
One of these inspiring Aussies will be named Young Australian of the Year at the Australian of the Year Awards to be presented in Canberra on January 25.
Award-winning performer and songwriter.
Kofi Owusu-Ansah is a Ghanaian-Australian poet, songwriter and rapper who uses hip-hop music to highlight issues such as racism and depression.
Kofi was born in Ghana in 1998. By the time he was two years old, his family had relocated to Canberra where the family now lives.
As a shy kid, he was attracted to poetry as a means of self-expression and self-exploration. Now, at 24, and on the cusp of an Australian tour with the Black Dog Band under the name of Genesis Owusu, he gets a similar kind of illumination from making music.
His 2021 album, Smiling With No Teeth, won four ARIA Awards - Album of the Year, Best Hip Hop Release, Best Independent Release and he shared the Best Cover Art award.
Smiling With No Teeth is a deeply personal record. Throughout, Kofi grapples with two distinct but entwined 'black dogs' - racism and depression - to resonant effect.
Founder of Banish and sustainability champion.
Lottie Dalziel didn't realise how hard it was to get accurate information about recycling and waste when she made a New Year Resolution to be kinder to the planet.
Rather than be disheartened, Lottie saw an opportunity. She founded Banish the same year as her resolution - 2018 - and made it her aim to provide Australians with reliable information and methods to reduce waste.
The Banish website and social media account is full of sustainability information, from how-to guides on composting to advice on planet-friendly food choices.
Lottie, 29, also runs BRAD - the Banish Recycling and Disposal Program. People send in hard-to-recycle items, such as blister packs, and Banish uses its partnership with TerraCycle to have them recycled in Australia.
The BRAD initiative recycled 11 tonnes of waste, or 150,000 products, from 11,000 households within its first 20 months.
Lottie delivered a TED talk in 2020 on the power of community to fight climate change.
First Nations community leader.
Jahdai Vigona knows an individual can make a change much bigger than themselves. A proud Tiwi Islands man, he is passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people.
He believes Aboriginal people are best placed to deliver better health outcomes to Aboriginal communities as they understand the services that are needed. He's at the forefront of delivering health messages and mental health programs that educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on how to seek help.
Jahdai has been a presenter at government forums, research summits and community events and is well sought-after for his public speaking. He encourages Indigenous people to use their voice, and for those voices to be heard.
Currently chair of the 2022 NT Youth Round Table, 21-year-old Jahdai has been recognised with several awards including the 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year and 2022 NT Young Achiever of the Year Award.
Talei Elu decided to focus on her enthusiasm for her Torres Strait culture after six years working for the Federal Government.
Talei, 30, is a Saibai Koedal (crocodile) woman from the Torres Strait Islander community of Seisia in Cape York. She used her government experience, knack for media creation and community organisation skills to start initiatives that have had a positive effect in Seisia.
Since returning home during the pandemic, Talei has worked with the Australian Electoral Commission to enrol and educate more Indigenous people about the importance of voting.
She also arranged for local women to receive free feminine hygiene products, baby necessities, and beauty and self-care items. And she started Seisia Sports and Rec, a free sports equipment hire initiative for youth.
Talei regularly organises beach clean-ups and was recently named as the youngest member of the First Nations Consultative Committee and co-chair.
Professional soccer player and co-founder of Barefoot to Boots.
Socceroo Awer Mabil is co-founder of the not-for-profit organisation Barefoot to Boots, which aims for better health, education, policies and gender equality for refugees.
His own unique way of celebrating a goal is a message to those struggling with their mental health: you are not alone and you can speak up.
The winger knows something about trying times. Awer grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp after his family fled civil war in Sudan, before coming to Australia at 10. Only a year after reaching his dream to play for the Socceroos, his sister died in a car accident in 2019.
Awer says that he now feels 'unbreakable'. It is his experience of hard times, the memory of his sister and the knowledge that young people see him as a role model that drives him to perform. It's what he does that 27-year-old Awer wants to be known for - not his background.
Humanitarian and marathon runner.
Meriem Daoui, a Tasmanian marathon runner and registered nurse, uses her love of running as a platform to do good. She ran her first marathon at age 16, raising over $5,000 for displaced Syrians affected by their country's civil war.
Born in Morocco, Meriem relocated to Tasmania at age 10 where she experienced racism and was bullied for wearing a hijab. Anxiety, depression and eating disorders plagued her teenage years, but the support she received during her adversities inspired her to give back to the community.
Meriem, who turns 24 this month, has also used marathons to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
She most recently conquered the 'Everest challenge', running Tasmania's Point-to-Pinnacle course - also known as the world's hardest half-marathon - every day for one week. The challenge raised over $12,000.
In 2021, Meriem was awarded the Australian Peter Norman Humanitarian award for her community and philanthropic efforts.
Advocate for Indigenous health care in prisons.
Proud Gunaikurnai man Darcy McGauley-Bartlett is passionate about supporting his community and has overcome significant challenges in his youth to emerge as a role model and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In his previous role as an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer for Victoria Police, Darcy was instrumental in changing policy to ensure fewer Indigenous people entered the justice system and didn't stay there if they did.
Darcy implemented Victoria's first Aboriginal Youth Cautioning Program to ensure all young Indigenous people are eligible for a caution when coming into contact with the justice system for the first time.
Now working within Justice Health for Corrections Victoria, the 24-year-old has helped establish the State's first Aboriginal Custodial Health team to improve health outcomes for Indigenous prisoners. Darcy was pivotal in supporting health care for Aboriginal prisoners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including working to increase uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Athlete and Olympian.
Nagmeldin (Peter) Bol is a two-time Olympian, holds the current national 800m record, and in 2021 was the first Australian runner in 53 years to make it into an Olympic 800m final.
Peter and his family, originally from Sudan, arrived in Australia from Egypt when he was eight. His sporting talent was soon recognised with a sporting scholarship to Perth's St Norbert College for basketball. When he was 16, a coach persuaded him to try athletics.
His running soon started getting him noticed and Peter debuted for Australia at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He became a household name at the Tokyo Games, held in 2021, where he won his semi-final and became the fastest-ever Australian over 800 metres.
When he's not training or studying, 28-year-old Peter works as a coach, mentor and keynote speaker, aiming to help others achieve their dreams. His philanthropic efforts were recently recognised by Athletics Australia with the prestigious 2022 Peter Norman Humanitarian Award.
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