Aussie Aussie Aussie!

By Chrissie Goldrick 23 January 2023
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
The 2023 Australian of the Year Award will be announced on 25 January. We examine how this annual honour has reflected the spirit of the times over seven decades.

The national finalists for the Australian of the Year Award in 2023 represent the best of human endeavour and achievement. These inspiring individuals, one from each state or territory, include humanitarians, paediatricians, sustainability advocates, First Nations leaders, musicians, community leaders, athletes making a difference, social workers and volunteers.

Among those nominated is Queensland’s Aussie of the Year, William Barton. The multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and didgeridoo (yidaki) player is one of Australia’s leading and most in-demand classical composers and performers. William grew up on Kalkadungu Country near Mount Isa, where he learnt didgeridoo from his uncle, Arthur Peterson, a Wannyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga Elder. He left school at 12 to concentrate on music and by age 17 he had performed with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. 

William holds honorary doctorates from Griffith University and the University of Sydney and an associate professorship at the Australian National University. He’s released five albums on the ABC Classics label, including Heartland with Véronique Serret, featuring the words of William’s mother, Aunty Delmae Barton. The 41-year-old has been a creative consultant for Australia Day Live and has won multiple awards, including the 2021 Australia Council Don Banks Music Award for his sustained contribution to music. In 2022 his composition Of the Earth was premiered at the opening of the newly refurbished Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.

Also up for for Australian of the Year are former Socceroo turned anti-racism activist Craig Foster, and Olympia Yarger, a climate action warrior, maggot farmer and founder of the Insect Protein Association of Australia.

From nominations submitted by the public, and the selection of each state and territory recipient in all four award categories, there are now 32 people in the running to be 2023 Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero. 

According to National Australia Day Council chief Karlie Brand, “The national finalists for the 2023 awards are all extraordinary people who now join a rich history of those doing great things for others, for community, for the nation and often for the world beyond our own borders.”

In the infographic below, we explore that rich history and look at ways in which these awards, over seven decades, have revealed much about the development of our national identity and the issues that concern us at any given time:

The national finalists for the 2023 Australian of the Year Award are:

• ACT Australian of the Year – Olympia Yarger

• NSW Australian of the Year – Craig Foster AM

• NT Australian of the Year – Samuel Bush-Blanasi

• Queensland Australian of the Year – William Barton

• SA Australian of the Year – Taryn Brumfitt

• Tasmanian Australian of the Year – John Kamara

• Victorian Australian of the Year – Dr Angraj Khillan

• WA Australian of the Year – Professor Samar Aoun

Discover all this year’s finalists at and watch the ceremony on Wednesday 25 January from 7.30pm (AEST) on ABC TV or ABC iview.