Durga, Sajini, Nikhil, and Sandipan amongst Australian of the Year Award finalists

"The 2024 Australian of the Year nominees represent the best of our values: courage, compassion and kindness."

There are 34 people in the running to be named 2024 Australian of the Year, 2024 Senior Australian of the Year, 2024 Young Australian of the Year and 2024 Australia’s Local Hero, each selected from their state and territory.

The national nominees include community leaders, educators, volunteers environmental and animal advocates, medical researchers, changemakers, and community creators.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met the nominees in the morning and tweeted:

“The 2024 Australian of the Year nominees represent the best of our values: courage, compassion and kindness.”

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National Australia Day Council CEO, Mark Fraser AO CVO, said the national nominees represent what inspires Australians and makes us proud.

“Each of the national nominees were nominated by a member of the public, someone who was inspired by their achievements or contributions and believed their story should be shared with all Australians.”

Image: Victoria’s Young Australian of the Year Bhakta Bahadur Bhattarai (credit NADC/Salty Dingo)

Victoria’s Young Australian of the Year Bhakta Bahadur Bhattarai‘s (better known as Durga) selfless actions are a constant source of care and connection among Wodonga’s multicultural community. 

Born and raised in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, Durga came to Australia with his family in 2012. He completed high school and then trained as a pharmacy assistant and registered nurse.  

Feeling lonely and isolated during his studies, Durga founded the Albury Wodonga Multicultural Community Events Inc in 2014. The organisation advocates for and showcases multicultural communities and organises help during difficult times.  

On top of his work as a nurse, Durga supplied homemade masks to the elderly and emergency food relief during the COVID-19 lockdowns. He also arranged multiple community wellbeing and entertainment programs, and has raised thousands of dollars for sick young people and disability support. 

Among several awards recognising his contributions, Durga was awarded the Meritorious Service Award from the Government of Victoria in 2019. 

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Image: Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year Sajini Sumar (credit NADC/Salty Dingo)

Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year Sajini Sumar has championed the cause of migrant and culturally diverse women in Tasmania for decades, giving a voice to groups that are often silenced.  

Having lived and worked around the world as a registered nurse, Sajini has used her lived experience and cultural understanding to assist, support, and advocate for migrant women. 

She’s helped new migrants develop networks and delivered school workshops to promote cross-cultural understanding and harmony.  

In 2005, she co-founded the Multicultural Women’s Council of Tasmania as a platform to develop and support women – and she’s still lobbying and advocating for positive change.  

Due to her outstanding work, Sajini has been a recipient of many community awards, including being inducted into the Honour Roll of Women in 2005 for her service to multicultural affairs. 

In 2012, this ‘champion of multiculturalism’ was selected as a People of Australia ambassador to help promote multiculturalism and provide feedback to the Federal Government. 

Image: NSW’s Young Australian of the Year Nikhil Autar (credit NADC/Salty Dingo)

NSW’s Young Australian of the Year Nikhil Autar was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 17. He has undergone chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, open heart surgery and survives a life-threatening chronic illness.  

As a cancer survivor who understands the importance of access for people with disability, Nikhil created Knia Maps – ‘Know In Advance Maps’ – which has plotted accessibility at major Sydney hospitals, universities, public venues and transport, plus hundreds of small businesses.  

Nikhil also founded Bheem Health, a social enterprise that provides low-cost medical devices for sick and vulnerable people. His first device, BheemUP, allows any bed to convert into a hospital bed. He’s now developing BheemSense, the world’s first sensor mat that tracks sleep phases and helps minimise pressure sores.  

Medical student Nikhil has raised almost $500,000 in grant funding and conducted cancer research. A blogger, disability advocate and motivational speaker, his diverse and inclusive hiring practices have given migrants, people with disabilities and student engineers their first jobs. 

Image: ACT Local Hero Nominee Sandipan Mitra (credit NADC/Salty Dingo)

ACT Local Hero Sandipan Mitra is a volunteer and advocate for diversity and multiculturalism. His journey from a childhood of extreme poverty to community leader is inspiring. A senior bank manager and dedicated father, Sandipan’s volunteer work celebrates diversity and tackles local community issues.  

Among his many initiatives, Sandipan helps children in need by employing low-cost tutors to provide free tuition, and partners with local senior care facilities to provide residents with opportunities for interaction.  

During the COVID lockdowns, Sandipan distributed food and supplies, provided essentials to international students and free meals to healthcare workers, organised online wellbeing seminars, and assisted vulnerable and elderly community members.  

His Stories That Matter event celebrated the lives of Canberra migrants and refugees. Sandipan also stood against the resurgence of racism during lockdowns. 

Sandipan and his team’s barbecues raise money for social causes such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Painaustralia and CARE Australia.  His many contributions foster unity, compassion and inclusivity among the ACT community. 

Image: Australian of the Year 2024

The winners of the Australian of the Year Awards will be announced at a ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra on January 25.

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