Legislative Council: Thursday, November 03, 2022


Australian of the Year Awards

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister update the council on the Aboriginal community leaders being recognised as nominees for the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:57): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in this area. Recently the South Australian nominees for the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards were recognised and announced.

There were many outstanding South Australians recognised for their contribution to our state and our nation across the various categories. Many of the names would be familiar to a lot of South Australians and to members in this chamber, including people like Professor Chris Daniels, Margie Fischer, Liz Habermann and Marie Shaw, to name a few amongst many others. However, I want to pay tribute today to one in particular who was nominated.

It was pleasing to see Sandra Miller's name amongst the nominees for Senior Australian of the Year, and I am glad to have a moment to recognise and reflect upon Sandra Miller's contribution to our community. Sandra Miller, or Sandy as she is better known, is a Wirangu woman from the Ceduna area. A social worker by training, Sandy has pursued a varied career across a range of important areas. I understand she has worked across health, the legal sector, governance, ageing and welfare to name just a few, and she has made a significant impact in whatever role she has undertaken.

In her nomination for the award Sandy is acknowledged as having worked at the Department of Community Welfare early in her career, and for pushing for changes to government policies at the time to support Aboriginal people to become foster carers. Her work in public service and in support of young people continues to this day, and I am informed that Sandy is a member of the governing board of the Women's and Children's Health Network, and has been so since its creation in 2019.

As Attorney-General, and having held the position of shadow attorney-general in opposition, as well as the Aboriginal affairs shadow portfolio since, I think, 2015, I am particularly familiar with Sandy's work from her time on the board of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia. Additionally, Sandy has worked on the national stage through her work at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance and internationally through advocacy with organisations associated with the United Nations. As recognised by this nomination, Sandy is a remarkable South Australian, and I am glad to see her being recognised with this nomination for South Australian of the Year.

Reflecting on nominations of significant people in the Australia Day awards, although not South Australian, I would particularly like to acknowledge the recognition of Professor Megan Davis, who was one of the New South Wales nominees for Australian of the Year in 2023. Her work on the thinking and writing around the Uluru Statement from the Heart has been quite remarkable. As a professor of law and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of New South Wales, she is one of the leading academics in the country who has worked on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution, including on the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I have been very fortunate to have been able to take guidance from the wisdom of Megan Davis in relation to what we are doing in our aspirations for the Statement from the Heart, particularly the Voice in South Australia.

I congratulate Sandy Miller in particular from South Australia but also acknowledge the national work that Professor Megan Davis has done for her people and Aboriginal people right across this country.