2023 marked the 50th anniversary of The Western Australian of the Year Awards. This special event acknowledged and celebrated those extraordinary community members who’ve made outstanding contributions to our State. We congratulate all of the category winners, whose outstanding achievements in their respective fields really do represent the diversity of talent present in Western Australia.
APM Business Award and Western Australian of the Year 2023
Mrs Gina Rinehart AO
Mrs Gina Rinehart AO is an inspiring business leader and philanthropist who has contributed greatly to the mining, agricultural and philanthropic sectors in Australia. As Executive Chairman of the Hancock Prospecting Group, she has transformed the company from one experiencing financial difficulties into one of the most successful private businesses in Australian history. Under her stewardship, Hancock Prospecting has successfully diversified into mining, iron ore, copper, potash, gold, coal, gas, cattle, dairy, and property industries and importantly supports many philanthropic sectors. Gina’s business acumen and leadership have earned her several awards, including the Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year (2009) and Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the mining sector, philanthropic initiatives, and sport (2022). A passionate philanthropist who impacts thousands of people across Australia and internationally, she supports various medical, educational, sporting, health and community organisations, serving as Patron of Australia’s Olympic swimming, rowing, volleyball and synchronised swimming teams. Her contribution to Olympic teams makes her the largest individual donor to Olympic sport in Australian history, supporting 175 individual athletes. She has also supported Breast Cancer and Telethon as charitable causes that have impacted hundreds of thousands of children and families in WA and throughout Australia. Gina’s commitment to the Hanrine Futures Scholarships ensures that disadvantaged and vulnerable indigenous children in the Pilbara will receive an education and a guaranteed a job, which is life-changing. Gina’s commitment to giving back to the community has inspired her staff to raise money for various charitable causes. Her contributions to the community, leadership, and business success make her an inspiration and role model for many Australians, especially women.
Mrs Rinehart joins previous Western Australian of the Year Awards recipients include Richard Goyder AO (2021), Emeritus Professor Mike Daube AO (2018), James McMahon DSC AM DSM (2019) Dr Robert Isaacs AM JP (2015) and Professor Fiona Stanley AC who won the Community Service Award and Professions Award in 1999.
Mr John Barrington AM
Steve Scudamore AM
Wesfarmers Aboriginal Award – Hon. Ken Wyatt AM
The Honourable Ken Wyatt AM is a political trailblazer who has been an instrumental advocate for an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament. Ken’s long and distinguished career has involved a number of ‘firsts.’ He was the first Indigenous Australian elected to the House of Representatives, the first to serve as a government minister, the first appointed to Executive Council and the first appointed to Federal Cabinet. A descendant of the Noongar and Yamatji communities, Ken has witnessed firsthand the poor treatment of First Nation’s people, particularly through the experiences of his mother who was part of the stolen generation. Ken held several Ministerial positions while in Federal Parliament, including Minister for Indigenous Australians, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health. During his political career, Ken made several major reforms and laid the foundations for a referendum to provide a political voice for Aboriginal people prior to his retirement in 2022. Ken has always taken a keen interest in institutional reform. He has instigated the Royal Commission into Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and responded to the Royal Commission into aged care with key industry changes to protect ageing Australians. In retirement, Ken has donated his research, reports, and submissions to the National Archive, protecting historically significant documents for Aboriginal people. Ken is an inspiring leader with unmatched experience in understanding the issues faced by Indigenous Australians. He has engaged with thousands of communities during his career and advocated at the highest level to close the gap for Aboriginal people.
Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker AM
Mr Des Headland
Woodside Energy Arts and Culture Award – Iain Grandage
Iain Grandage is a celebrated Australian composer and music director, currently serving as Artistic Director for Perth Festival. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the arts, including seven Helpmann Awards, the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, and the Ian Potter Emerging Composer Fellowship. Even with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Perth Festival flourished under Iain’s leadership. His creative vision ensured that the Festival continues to attract major international acts, including a highly successful 70th anniversary celebration featuring Björk that attracted 4,000 tourists to WA. Iain has always demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting local artists, focusing on amplifying Noongar voices and creating a more inclusive Festival that connects performers, audiences, and events to the community and place around them. As both a composer and conductor Iain has gained critical acclaim, with his Helpmann Award-winning compositions for stage productions such as Cloudstreet, The Secret River, and The Rabbits. Iain has also played a key role in helping produce some of Perth’s most unique events, including the renowned ‘Highway to Hell’ concert along Canning Highway. Despite facing numerous obstacles, Iain’s positive attitude has enabled him to continue connecting people through music, art, and stories, creating understanding, kindness and empathy. Plans for Iain’s final Perth Festival in 2024 are well underway, and it is expected that he will go out on a high note.
Mr Paul Chamberlain
Mr Tim Ungar
Alcoa Community Award – Professor Marcus Atlas AM
Professor Marcus Atlas AM as a pioneering surgeon, scientist, and healthcare visionary, has achieved global recognition in the field of ear and hearing health. He is the Director of Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) and has received several awards, including a Member of the Order of Australia, winning the Telstra Best of Business Awards, and receiving the Australian Medical Association (WA) Award for pioneering work in the field of Otolaryngology. Under his directorship, Marcus has helped build ESIA into a unique, world-leading ear and hearing medical research institute. He has attracted global interest in WA, advancing his vision for the State to be the global leader in ear and hearing health. Marcus leads by example, and his philanthropic work has built a following of donors to support early-career scientists and innovative research projects. Marcus has been instrumental in providing high-quality surgery and hearing rehabilitation for the community, with ESIA serving over 44,000 people annually. He has also partnered with Mineral Resources in the Pilbara to support indigenous-led ear health programs, and ESIA has hundreds of volunteers reaching out to communities across the State. He is also leading a team working towards commercialising the world’s first bioengineered eardrum, which has the potential to create new investment and job opportunities in WA. Marcus’ impact will be felt for generations to come. He has made an incredible contribution to WA’s healthcare system, innovation landscape, and philanthropic culture, all while remaining committed to providing cutting-edge technology and life changing treatments for all.
Adjunct Professor Tony Pietropiccolo AM
Mr Robert Graham
HBF Professions Award Professor Andrew Whitehouse
Professor Andrew Whitehouse is a renowned autism researcher, passionate about transforming clinical care for autistic children across Australia. He is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and a Professor of Autism Research at The University of Western Australia. Andrew has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Eureka Prize for Science in 2017 and being the youngest ever Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Andrew’s breakthrough discovery in 2021, demonstrating the benefits of intervention for autism as early as 6-12 months, has transformed international practice. He also led the creation of Australia’s first guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of autism in children, ensuring gold standard care for autistic children across the country. At the Telethon Kids Institute, Andrew leads a team of professionals creating and testing new interventions to support the development of autistic children in Australia. Andrew is a leader among his peers, heading international research organisations in his autism field, including the Australasian Society for Autism Research. He has also founded and hosted major events for the WA autism community and shares his passion and knowledge of autism research on several related boards. Andrew is a gifted science communicator, creating an award-winning science video series with over two million views, popular science books, and over 100 media columns. His passion for infusing science with compassion and humanity has resulted in a deep community impact on the 3% of Australians with autism and their families. Andrew’s ultimate goal is to celebrate autistic children for who they are, removing any barriers and negative perceptions potentially holding them back.
Clinical Professor David Blacker
Professor Yogi Yogesan
Channel 7 Sport Award – Brad Ness OAM
Brad Ness OAM is a Paralympic champion and an admired advocate for para-sport. After losing his leg in a workplace accident at the age of 18, Brad refused to let any obstacles hold him back. Dedicating himself to the sport of wheelchair basketball, Brad was eventually awarded a scholarship to play in the USA and went on to represent Australia in five Paralympic Games, winning a gold medal and two silver medals. As current Head Coach of the WAIS Wheelchair Basketball Program, Brad is sharing his knowledge and experience with the next generation of athletes. He is a respected and supportive leader who prioritises the well-being of his players both on and off the court. Under his guidance, a record number of WA wheelchair basketball players made the national team in 2022. Off-court, Brad is a vocal advocate for para-sport, working tirelessly to promote the implementation of programs and encouraging young people with disability to participate in physical activity. He has organised try-out days for a variety of para-sports and is a passionate public speaker, inspiring others to believe in themselves. As an award nominee Brad’s sporting achievements are most impressive, however it is his ongoing advocacy for para-sport and young people with disability that sets him apart. As a coach and mentor, Brad has had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals, helping them to broaden their skill sets and achieve success.
Mr Josh Kennedy
Mr Bill Dempsey MBE
BHP Youth Award – Madison Heady
Madison Heady is a 21-year-old disability advocate and para-athlete who has overcome several challenges in order to achieve her goals. She has ataxic cerebral palsy and did not walk unassisted until the age of six. Despite this early setback, Madison went on to win a National Athletics silver medallist for the 1500m and in 2020 received an Australian record for her classification for the 5km race. After being involved in a serious car accident in 2020, doctors advised Madison that she may never walk again and that her dreams of becoming a Paralympic runner could be over. But with determination, dedication and a ‘never give up’ attitude, this inspiring young woman managed her way back on the training track and is now running up to 40 to 50 km a week. Madison is also public speaker who educates young people about the issues of equality and inclusion. Her passion for film has driven her to help create “The Periscope Crew,” a unique film company focusing on young creative filmmakers with disability. Madison’s ultimate aim is to secure a future where people with disability are accepted with open arms and hearts – a world in which everyone affected by disability can feel confident in sharing their talents without judgment. She is an inspiring young woman who has demonstrated her resilience and consistently positive attitude at every turn, despite facing several daunting challenges. Madison’s story is also the subject of a British Academy Film and Television Arts nominated documentary – Walk, Run, Strive.
Miss Zahra Al Hilaly
Dr Adam Edwards
2024 Nominations opening soon.
The annual Western Australian of the Year (WAOTY) Awards has an open nominations process where Celebrate WA calls for nominations from the public, past alumni winners, businesses, community and industry association groups. Nominators must indicate the category and seek approval from the person or persons they are nominating for the Awards.
All nominees are assessed by individual and expert judges across the seven categories using consistent and robust criteria via an anonymous online system to ensure rigour. This process is independent and criteria measures professional and personal achievements, tenure and the impact of making a contribution or giving back to the WA community.