The Western Australian of the Year Awards celebrate exceptional Western Australians making extraordinary contributions in key areas such as arts and culture; the Aboriginal community; positive social, scientific and economic impact; sport and the WA community as a whole.

 To mark the 50th anniversary we are sharing the inspiring stories of 6 West Australian of the Year Award recipients. We visually explore what makes them a wonderful West Australian, and discover what it is about this great state that allowed them to grow, prosper and succeed.



Richard Goyder AO

2021 Western Australian of the Year and Alcoa Community Award

In a stellar 40-year career, Richard Goyder has dominated the business world. He was the Wesfarmers CEO who spearheaded the biggest and riskiest takeover in Australian corporate history, turning Coles, Kmart and Bunnings into retail titans. In 2021 as Telethon chairman, he presided over a record-breaking result: $62 million in a year when the non-profit sector was ravaged by COVID. He also chairs the WA Symphony Orchestra, Qantas, Woodside and AFL commission. Richard Goyder’s great strengths lie in the core lessons he’s learnt as a leader along the way: stay calm, nurture the talent you see around you and always try to make a difference. He says his family are his greatest achievement. In 2008 he was awarded the Industry & Commerce Award and again in 2021 for his commitment to philanthropy.


Justin Langer AM

2014 Channel 7 Sports Award

Justin Langer is as much at home on the back of a dinghy pulling crab pots in Mandurah as he is walking out onto the green pitch of Lords. West Australian cricket fans have thrilled to Langer’s prowess with the bat ever since his Test debut thirty years ago. Gutsy and parochial, he believes self-belief is the essence of personal progress.  Justin, declared one of Australia’s greatest top order batsmen, participated in 105 test matches scoring 7,696 runs including 23 test centuries. In 2009 he surpassed Sir Donald Bradman as the most prolific batsman in Australian cricket with a total of 28,068 first class runs. After his retirement from competitive cricket in 2007, Justin became Assistant Coach of the Australian cricket team before being appointed Coach of the Western Warriors and Perth Scorchers. He sat on numerous not-for-profit boards and was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008.


James McMahon DSC AM DSM

2019 Western Australian of the Year and Alcoa Community Award

James’ career in the Australian Defence Force has spanned 22 years. Over that time he’s been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for leadership and command in Afghanistan, Iraq and Timor-Leste. After his military service, James’ leadership skills saw him appointed as Commissioner for the Department of Corrective Services to implement a reform agenda. Always focusing on rehabilitation, James’ efforts helped establish the Youth Justice Board and the Reconciliation Action Plan for Corrective Services. James is also personally committed to defence families, supporting current serving personnel, returned service personnel and defence families in need[i]. His Board memberships include West Coast Eagles Football Club, SAS Resources Trust Board, Australian War Memorial Board, St John of God Health Care Board and the Investment Advisory Group Committee for RSL WA. In 2022 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to veterans and their families, and to the community.


Professor Bruce Robinson AM

2013 West Australian of the Year and Business and Professions Award, supported by HBF and APM

He’s the boy from Bassendean, who’s dad taught him that it’s not what you get out of life, but what you put into it that counts. Bruce Robinson is the perfect mix of brains and maverick aided by an indelible streak of empathy. His ground breaking cancer research, mentoring of medical students in the art of compassionate doctoring, his volunteer work in third world countries and his incredible success with the Fathering project are some of the reasons Bruce was named 2013 West Australian of the Year.



Bourby Webster

2019 Woodside Art and Culture Award

Bourby Webster believes the magic ingredient in the community is music. And nothing nourishes the soul like live orchestral music. Since 2011, her Perth Symphony Orchestra has been giving West Australian audiences goosebumps, spine tingles and the kind of listening pleasures human nature cannot do without.  Bourby Webster has taken classical music out of the Concert Hall and into the most unexpected of West Australian places and spaces. She wants contemporary audiences to be able to experience the traditional symphony orchestra in new and thrilling ways.


Kendall Whyte

2021 BHP Youth Award

Kendall Whyte carries her brother with her in the bright blue trees of WA.

Her Blue Tree Project is a powerful international platform for promoting better understanding of mental health. Every one of the world’s 800 blue trees — from Melbourne to Missouri to Manchester —serves as a striking visual reminder that ‘it’s okay not to be okay.’


Gina Williams AM

2017 Wesfarmers Aboriginal Award

Gina Williams is a singer-songwriter taking Noongar language to the world. With her partner and guitarist collaborator Guy Ghouse, she has laid down important stepping stones in what’s become a sustained and irresistible renaissance in Noongar language and culture. She and Ghouse run workshops teaching people songs in Balladong which are popular with non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people alike.

Major Supporters

Celebrate WA wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we meet on for all WA Day festivities. We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this State. Paying our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.

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