A huge thanks to Australia’s Local Heroes

Australian of the Year Awards

Looking forward to the long weekend? We bet you are! There’s plenty to celebrate on and about Australia Day but one thing we think is worth a note of thanks are our Local Heroes.

The Local Heroes category was introduced to the Australian of the Year awards back in 2003 in order to recognise the extraordinary contributions of ordinary Australians to their local communities.

While the national award recipients aren’t announced until, fittingly, Australia Day, the state finalists have been. Here’s a round up of the wonderful work of each.

Consider sharing these with your staff to inspire them to work towards finding causes they are passionate about helping.


Kevin Robinson founded charity Little Wings, which operates a free flight service for seriously ill children living in the rural and regional areas of New South Wales, transporting them to and from Sydney for treatment. He and a roster of volunteer pilots fly 650 passengers on 250 flights a year.


Louise Davidson is the co-founder of the Mother’s Day Classic, a national fun run held on Mother’s Day each year that helps raise funds for breast cancer research. Established in 1998 after she lost her mum to the disease, in 2014, 135,000 took part and together raised $4.5m.


Juliette Wright is a social entrepreneur and founder of online platform GIVIT, which connects those with quality unwanted goods to donate to those who need them most in their local community. GIVIT has helped deliver 126,000 items since launching in 2009.


Stacy Dunbar is a road safety national campaigner, who is working with local politicians and councils to erect crash barriers at dangerous intersections. She also established The Pledge for Nate campaign in 2013, calling for people not to drink and drive over the Christmas break after losing her eight-month old son, Nate, to an accident involving a drunk driver.


Vince Coulthard is an indigenous elder who helped lead the first Native Title claim in South Australia over the Flinders Ranges (awarded in 2009). He has held many leadership roles, all which have served to protect and conserve the cultural identity of indigenous Australians.


A volunteer radio operator, Mary Kay has run Smithton Coast Guard radio for 18 years. She reads weather forecasts twice a day, and takes some 5,000 calls a year, including distress calls from fisherman and sailors and calls for help from police and coastguards mid-rescue.


Damian De Marco is a child sexual assault campaigner, who has worked tirelessly to see laws changed to better protect children against paedophilia, in order to see perpetrators (such as the teacher who assaulted him as a child in the 80s) are made accountable for their crimes.


Ray Palmer is a veterans’ champion providing support and mentoring to Australian men and women who suffer physical and psychological ailments after serving. He fundraises for associated charities and helps parents who have lost their children to service, as he did his son, who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

Find out how Benojo can help your business create a corporate volunteer program that connects your staff to causes they care about.