Australian of the Year Awards

Each year we recognise remarkable Australians who inspire us through their achievements.

2020 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients

The 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients were announced at a ceremony hosted by Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and Mr Anthony Howard QC at Government House in Melbourne on Wednesday 23 October 2019.

Victorian Australian of the Year: Archie Roach AM – Musical storyteller

Archie Roach AM is a singer, songwriter, musician and campaigner for the rights of Aboriginal Australians. After being forcibly removed from his family at age two, he has overcome teenage alcoholism and homelessness – and the 2010 death of his beloved wife, Ruby – to become an Australian music legend.

In 1992, Archie won two ARIA awards for his 1990 debut album Charcoal Lane. He also received a Human Rights Achievement Award for his iconic Stolen Generations song, Took the Children Away – a first for any songwriter. He has since released eleven more albums and embarked on nationwide and global tours, exploring issues that affect Aboriginal people in modern Australia.

He is a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the performing arts as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, and to the community as a spokesman for social justice.

Today, Archie runs The Archie Roach Foundation, which looks to improve opportunities for young Aboriginal people through art and culture. Through his work, Archie spreads a powerful message of love, reconciliation and healing.


  • Neale Daniher AM – Motor neurone disease campaigner
  • Adele Ferguson AM – Award-winning journalist
  • Brendan Nottle – Commanding Officer of the Salvation Army Melbourne

Victorian Senior Australian of the Year: Dr Raymond Shuey APM – Road safety champion

Dr Raymond Shuey APM 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 co-ordinating the police response to the Bushfires Royal Commission.

Since completing a PhD in international road safety in 2012, Ray has contributed to World Health Organisation 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.


  • Professor Marcia Langton AM – Academic and Aboriginal Leader
  • Bruce Pascoe – Aboriginal writer
  • Garry Stinchcombe – Mentor for the blind

Victorian Young Australian of the Year: Taya Davies – Youth worker and youth volunteer

After a very challenging childhood, Taya Davies decided to use her personal experience to help others. In her late teens, she began a career in youth work, providing much needed love and guidance to troubled youth in residential care.

Progressing to management in her early 20s, Taya has run numerous programs through Geelong City Council with young people from low socio-economic backgrounds, including asylum seekers.

Taya coordinates high school programs in the Geelong region, funded by the Department of Education, to support disengaged youth. She spends much of her spare time volunteering on community projects like coordinating a six-week surfing and community immersion program with young asylum seekers. She’s also passionate about helping young people with disabilities and is a close and caring friend to many.

Taya is an exceptional young woman who inspires those around her with her positivity, hard-working attitude and generosity. Her friendly, caring personality inspires everyone around her to give back and make a difference.


  • Hunter Johnson – Mentor for boys and young men
  • Matthew Pierri – Lawyer, CEO and disability advocate
  • Roseanne Rofaeel – Founder of Christmas on the Streets

Victorian Local Hero: Josephine Jones – Environmental and litter prevention advocate

Each morning, Josephine (Josie) Jones starts by collecting rubbish on the beach. Since 2006 she has volunteered over 10,000 hours and countless dollars to improve the water quality in Mornington Peninsula’s bays – personally collecting over 5.3 tonnes of rubbish from its shorelines.

Josie devotes every spare moment to stopping litter from entering Mornington’s waterways and engaging her community to inspire change. Through personal commitment, public speaking, social media, and consulting with local government, community groups, corporations, schools and businesses, she has educated stakeholders and inspired others to take care of the environment.

Josie has successfully used her skills as a graphic designer to dramatically decrease cigarette butts on local streets through her The Only Butt campaign.

Josie’s outstanding work has received recognition through awards including the Dame Phyllis Frost Award in 2016 and the 2017 Litter Prevention prize from Keep Victoria Beautiful. Currently the Mornington Peninsula Australia Day Citizen of the Year, Josie is a much-admired local role model.


  • Lisa Briggs – Lung cancer survivor and advocate
  • Michael Dillon – Football club leader and refugee supporter
  • Jenny Willetts – Homeless shelter organiser

Australia Day Victoria would like to congratulate all the recipients and finalists and pay tribute to the outstanding contribution they make to our state.

Past Victorian Australian of the Year Award Recipients

Recipients marked with * were also awarded the National Australian of the Year award in that category.







Find out more information about the Honour roll – Past Victorian Award Finalist and Recipients.

Reviewed 18 November 2019

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