Senior Australian of the Year Award 2017 national finalist, Sister Anne Gardiner AM.
Senior Australian of the Year Award 2017 national finalist, Sister Anne Gardiner AM. National Australia Day Council

Sister Anne Gardiner named Senior Australian of the Year

SENIOR Australian of the Year for 2017 has been awarded to Sister Anne Gardiner AM, from the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory.

Sr Anne, 85, has given a lifetime to connecting cultures and championing the power of community.

Her selfless approach to helping others and sense of giving have made a big impact at a grass roots level.

As a 22-year-old member of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Sr Anne was asked to move to Bathurst Island to live among the Tiwi people.

In the 62 years since she has devoted her life to enriching community, enhancing opportunity and supporting the Tiwi culture.

An advocate of peace, love and the traditional Tiwi way of life, Sr Anne has worked tirelessly with the local people to document and preserve the Tiwi language for future generations.

As the principal of the local primary school, Sr Anne educated generations of children while also establishing community clubs, from mothers' groups to Little Athletics.


She runs regular prayer meetings, founded an op shop and established a café to raise funds to support her much-loved community.

Sr Anne's labour of love, the Patakajiyali museum, shares valuable Tiwi stories, language and traditional customs, while also bringing financial benefit to the people.

A cornerstone of the community, Sr Anne has earned an enduring place in the hearts of the Tiwi people and her work has helped preserve and empower a culture which is integral to the Australian story.

Other 2017 award winners are:

  • Australian of the Year - Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim (QLD).
  • Australia's Local Hero - Vicki Jellie (VIC).
  • Young Australian of the Year - Paul Vasileff (SA).

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