A BYRON Bay man has been nominated for 2018 NSW Australian of the Year Awards after using his personal tragedy to make Australia a safer place for everyone, especially children.
Gun control campaigner and children's champion, Walter Mikac, 55, showed incredible strength of character to fight for tighter gun control after his wife and two young daughters were tragically killed at the infamous Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
Mr Mikac's wife, Nanette, and daughters Alannah, 6, and Madeline, 3, were shot and killed after Nanette pleaded with the gunman not to hurt her children.
Mr Mikac's lobbying of the Australian Government led to a national buyback scheme with more than 640,000 weapons surrendered.
Australia has not had another mass shooting since Port Arthur.
A year after losing his family, Mr Mikac co-founded the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in honour of his daughters, to help protect children from violence and bullying.
In the last 20 years, he and the Foundation have reached more than two million school children and their families, with programs in one third of Australian schools and 1500 public libraries.
The Foundation also supports 10,000 children in refuges and foster homes every year.
Mr Mikac is among others including medical scientists, inventors, a surf therapist, a teacher, rural community leaders, a Playschool legend and cycling cancer fundraisers as nominees for the awards.
The NSW Award nominees are in the running to be named NSW Australian of the Year, NSW Senior Australian of the Year, NSW Young Australian of the Year and NSW Local Hero.
The award recipients will be announced on November 13 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
The recipients will then join a cohort of 32 State and territory recipients from around Australia in the national Awards, which will be held in Canberra on January 25 2018.
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au