South Australian Senior of the Year 2020, 90-year-old Sylvia McMillan.
South Australian Senior of the Year 2020, 90-year-old Sylvia McMillan.

Top people line up for 2020 Senior Australian of the Year

EVERDAY seniors who have made outstanding contributions to their communities are in the running for the 60th anniversary Senior Australian of the Year Awards.

Eight State award winners have been nominated for the national awards which will be announced by the National Australia Day Council at a ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on the evening of January 25, 2020.

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Karlie Brand, said the national finalists represented the diversity of Australia and the many ways in which people were achieving and contributing.

"The national finalists are an extraordinary group of people whose impact ranges from medical and scientific endeavours to volunteering, human rights advocacy, education, sustainability action and more," said Ms Brand.

"Their stories reflect our communities and the world in which we live, inspiring us and reminding us we can all make a difference."

The finalists for the 2020 Senior Australian of the Year award are:

ACT - Sue Salthouse

Leader and disability advocate

A horse-riding accident at age 45 led Sue into a new life in a wheelchair - where she experienced first-hand the systemic inequality facing people with disabilities.

Having been committed to social justice all her life, Sue was determined to bring about positive change.

First invited to work for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), she began advocating for the right of people with disabilities to accessible housing, economic security and the chance to contribute to society.

Sue now runs a consultancy company specialising in disability rights advocacy and works in the disability sector. She has also worked extensively with a number of organisations to develop leadership training projects for women, and actions to combat domestic violence. Sue holds positions on a number of Boards including the Independent Advisory Council of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Expert Panel in the ACT.  

In 2015, Sue was Canberra Citizen of the Year, recognising her outstanding commitment and contribution as a disability advocate.

NSW  - Sue Lennox

Environmental educator and social enterprise founder

As a teacher, Sue was concerned about young people's anxiety and despair about the future of the planet. So, with her late husband Colin, she founded the award-winning social enterprise OzGREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network Australia Inc).

It teaches young people how to take positive environmental action through education, participatory leadership and community development.

Sue's initiatives with OzGREEN include the Youth Leading the World program, a learning and leadership course that creates sustainable communities.

She teaches people to become 'citizen scientists' and to take action to improve the health of their waterways.

Under Sue's leadership, OzGREEN has developed sustainability programs in 1,600 locations across Australia, India, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Pakistan.

After stepping down as CEO this year, Sue is now focused on sharing OzGREEN's multi-award-winning approach by training others as facilitators and citizen scientists. She remains on the board of OzGREEN.

Her extraordinary work continues to empower individuals and communities by replacing despair with hope.

NT - Banduk Marika AO

Artist, cultural activist and environmental adviser

Banduk is known for her exquisite prints of ancestral creation stories on lino, her original media of choice.

Born in Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, Banduk and her sisters are among the first Yolngu women whose male relatives have encouraged them to paint ancestral creation stories.

As well as an artist, she is also a passionate cultural activist and environmental adviser, who has appeared as a speaker at national and international conferences.

In 1994, she and seven other artists won a court case against a company that illegally reproduced their work in Vietnam. Her story featured in the 1997 documentary Copyrights, which explored Aboriginal concept of ownership as it relates to art.

Banduk has been the artist-in-residence at both the Canberra School of Art and Flinders University in South Australia. She is a traditional landowner in charge of looking after country at Yirrkala.

Queensland - Peter Dornan AM

Men's health activist

Following a prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, and after experiencing depression, incontinence and other side effects, sports medicine physiotherapist Peter put an ad in the newspaper, inviting fellow patients to meet. Since then, he has supported men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Peter's commitment to helping men share experiences and seek support has helped create a culture change in the treatment management for men with prostate cancer.

Receiving a grant to research incontinence - a common consequence in men after prostate cancer treatment - he designed a successful program to treat the condition, and published a book used across Australian prostate cancer support groups.

He also developed a nationally and internationally recognised program for managing patients with pelvic pain.

Peter is a director of the Board of the Cancer Council of Queensland, for which he has helped raised significant funds. A successful writer and sculptor, he took up mountain climbing after prostate cancer recovery, successfully scaling Mount Kilimanjaro at age 60.

SA - Sylvia McMillan


Sylvia has dedicated her life to being of service to her community. The 90-year-old woman has been a force of good to everyone around her - and shows no signs of stopping.

She is still the Chair for her local Legacy, the organisation that provides services to families of deceased defence force members.

Sylvia also runs a Seniors club, a Sunnysiders club, and card group, and is a member of Friends of the Parks.

In between her volunteer activities she regularly attends the gym and meets with her school chums and her water aerobics group, at the local Parks Community Centre.

As the Enfield volunteer bus driver for many years, Sylvia dressed up as Santa Claus at Christmas, revealing the joy volunteer work brings her. She was also on the board of the local branch of the Health Centre and the Housing Trust.

Sylvia has received many community awards, including a Legends Award for her contributions to the community.

Tasmania - Dr Graeme Stevenson

Landcare activist

Graeme has been promoting healthy soils in Tasmania for over 30 years, in particular the role of dung beetles and earthworms in soil management.

Since 1993, he has been a passionate advocate and volunteer for Landcare Tasmania, a movement that brings individuals and groups together to improve the health of natural and working landscapes.

Using his knowledge about conservation, Graeme has initiated and managed 27 projects along the coastline, including willow removal, riverside fencing, and managing soil slippage. He also helps write funding applications for new projects, and has attracted almost $1.5 million in grants, predominantly for on-ground works.

With 20 years of applied research into organic agriculture and sustainable farming, Graeme works with farmers as a soil assessor and agronomy consultant, and has written a number of books showcasing his expertise.

As well as his volunteer work, he presents his soil knowledge to school children as alter ego Dr Spluttergrunt.

Victoria - Dr Raymond Shuey APM

Road safety champion

Raymond is a former Victorian police officer and Assistant Commissioner for Traffic and Operations. His signature achievement was Project Beacon, which trains police in operational safety when responding to mental health and critical incidents.

With road safety partners, Ray developed initiatives to increase enforcement and education programs - resulting in a massive reduction in the Victorian Road Toll.

Following his retirement in 2003, Ray conducted reviews for Vicroads and Victoria Police, as well as coordinating the police response to the Bushfires Royal Commission.

Since completing a PhD in international road safety in 2012, Ray has contributed to WHO Good Practice Publications and authored many Road Safety Publications providing knowledge and inspiration for others.

He regularly consults on road safety and operational safety in Australia and worldwide.

Despite suffering ill health, Ray is President of the International Safety Foundation, which facilitates the international transfer of road safety and medical equipment, to save lives in lower income countries.

WA - Professor John Newnham AM

Leader of modern obstetrics

John is recognised as one of the world's leading authorities in the prevention of pre-term birth - the single greatest cause of death and disability in children up to five years of age.

A Professor of Obstetrics, John has been instrumental in making Western Australia an international hotspot for research and clinical excellence in pregnancy and life before birth.

In 1989, he founded and led the pioneering Raine Study, the world's first and most enduring pregnancy-focused lifetime cohort project.

John developed a program for preventing preterm birth - a pioneering initiative which resulted in an eight per cent reduction in premature births across WA.

After a successful national rollout in 2018, he founded the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance - the world's first ever national program of its kind.

John has been described by the world's leading scientific journal as 'an intellectual leader of modern obstetrics who has changed the practice of medicine and the lives of women and infants'.

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