Australian of the Year Awards

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

2019 Victorian Australian of the Year Awards recipients

The 2019 Victorian Australian of the Year Award recipients were announced at a ceremony hosted by the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and Mr Anthony Howard QC at Government House in Melbourne on Tuesday 23 October 2018.

Victorian Australian of the Year: Mark Sullivan – Founder and managing director of Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH)

From his tiny Southbank office, Mark Sullivan’s work ensures millions of disadvantaged people get the medicines they need. Founder and managing director of not-for-profit MDGH, Mark and his 11-person team develop medicines based on public health needs, rather than commercial opportunity.

After years of fundraising, research and development, MDGH was the first Australian biopharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval for a new drug, moxidectin. The medicine treats river blindness, a debilitating illness affecting 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. The company has a self-sustained model to manufacture and distribute moxidectin. They are also planning clinical trials to assess moxidectin as a new treatment for the scabies parasite that up to 70% of Aboriginal babies have suffered by the age of 1.

The drug may also be an option for the 1.5 billion people affected with other neglected tropical diseases. Just as importantly, Mark has developed a highly effective new business model for developing much-needed new medicines.


  • Christopher Varney – Autism advocate and visionary
  • Hollie Feller – Advocate and fundraiser
  • Ian and Simone Carson AM – Founders of SecondBite

Victorian Senior Australian of the Year: Alison Harcourt – STEM Pioneer

As a woman in mathematics and statistics, Alison Harcourt’s seminal work from the 1950s onwards was often overlooked. She is now best known for developing integer linear programming, the basis of efficient computer processing. The 1960 paper written with Ailsa Land on the topic has been cited in 3,000 academic journal articles.

Alison has written numerous papers and is the co-author of 3 books. She was also one of the first users of CSIRAC, Australia’s first digital computer. As a statistician, she worked with social scientist Ronald Henderson and economist R. J. Harper on what became known on the Melbourne Poverty Survey, Australia’s first systematic, quantitative measure of poverty. Their work formed the basis of the 1972 Royal Commission into poverty.

Alison’s other outstanding work, with fellow statistician Malcolm Clark, on the randomisation of electoral ballot papers led to a change in the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1984.


  • Roy Francis – Health Ambassador and Advocate
  • Denis Ryan AM– Detective and Advocate
  • Graham Salisbury – Volunteer Equine Therapist

Victorian Young Australian of the Year: Dr Skye Kinder – Doctor

Dr Skye Kinder has dedicated her medical career to improving the health of marginalised patients throughout Australia. After witnessing her father travel to Melbourne for specialist appointments, she became committed to easing the travel burden and financial impact of healthcare on rural populations.

While studying, Skye became a passionate advocate for rural health, representing the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) as Rural Health Officer. Through AMSA, she co-founded and chaired the first Rural Health Committee and set up a national Rural Health Summit, creating new opportunities for students in regional areas to participate in advocacy and policy.

Now a doctor, and board member of Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, Skye continues to highlight rural health issues to local, national and international audiences, through her research, ongoing speaking engagements, press appearances, workshops and articles.

Skye was named Victoria’s Junior Doctor of the Year in 2017 and Bendigo’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2014.


  • Jaryd Clifford – Athlete
  • Jade Hameister – Adventurer
  • Leah Jing McIntosh – Writer and Photographer

2019 Victorian Local Hero: Carol Matthews – Bushfire survivor and activist

On 7 February 2009 Carol, Dave and Ellie Matthews experienced an unimaginable tragedy – the death of their 22-year-old son Sam, and the destruction of their home in the Black Saturday bushfires.

Despite her considerable pain, Carol put her grief on ‘hold’ to advocate for emotional preparedness to be included in bushfire planning and preparation. She has been pivotal in developing a ‘multi-sensory bus’ to help people understand the effect that high arousal during the chaos of a fire will have on decision making.

Carol has attended many meetings with Victorian Government representatives and supported other community members recovering from the trauma of the bushfire.

Carol was also the lead litigant in the class action against the electricity distributor that caused the fire, securing $500 million for survivors – the largest class action settlement in Australian history. In the face of her own personal loss, she displayed enormous courage to secure a better outcome for bushfire victims.


  • Jason Azzopardi – Founder of Kidzflip
  • Andy Gild – Volunteer for Bicycles for Humanity
  • Sam Haycroft – Disability Worker and Rocker

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 09 September 2019

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