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14 December 2017

National Museum of Australia showcases personal objects

A pioneering craniofacial surgeon, an entrepreneurial community leader, an actor turned cancer research fundraiser, a theatre director pushing big ideas, a ground-breaking paediatric cardiologist, a quantum physics professor transforming computers, a National Rugby League hero changing young lives, and an advocate for Indigenous mental health will be honoured in a new exhibition featuring the 2018 Australian of the Year State and Territory recipients.

The National Museum of Australia and the National Australia Day Council (NADC) today launched an exhibition of personal objects chosen by the eight extraordinary 2018 Australian of the Year State and Territory recipients, which tell us something about their lives, aspirations and experiences.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said the 2018 Australian of the Year State and Territory recipients have chosen diverse and deeply personal objects reflecting their life’s journeys.

‘We are so proud to feature these distinctive objects chosen by eight exceptional individuals and to share their inspirational stories with the nation in this exhibition,’ Dr Trinca said.

NADC CEO Jenny Barbour said, ‘This is the fourth year that the National Australia Day Council has collaborated with the National Museum of Australia to bring together a unique exhibition that showcases our nation’s finest.’

‘We are honoured to share the remarkable stories of eight standout Australians through objects that provide a special insight into their lives, their passion and their contributions to our great country.’

2018 SA Australian of the Year, Professor David David AC: Having transformed the lives of thousands of patients with facial deformities and disfigurements, Professor David David chose 3-D printed model skulls.

2018 ACT Australian of the Year, Dion Devow: By employing the controversial name Darkies Design for his Aboriginal-themed apparel and print business, Dion Devow demonstrated he was unafraid to push boundaries. He chose his university graduation sash and a rosary, which links him to his heritage and faith.

2018 Vic Australian on the Year, Samuel Johnson OAM: Gold Logie winner Samuel Johnson raised millions for cancer research during his epic unicycle journey (2013–14) around Australia for His Love Your Sister charity. He chose a humble unicycle ‘trophy’ made for him in 2003 by his beloved late sister Connie Johnson.

2018 Tas Australian of the Year, Scott Rankin: Theatre director, writer and arts charity leader Scott Rankin shares his creative manuals which have been with him since BIG hART was launched 25 years ago.

2018 NT Australian of the Year, Dr Bo Reményi: Passionate about reducing heart disease in Indigenous communities, paediatric cardiologist Dr Bo Remenyi chose a painting gifted by a young patient’s grateful mother.

2018 NSW Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons: Attempting to build a revolutionary quantum computer, Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons chose a chess set and certificate reflecting her drive to defy expectations.

2018 Qld Australian of the Year, Johnathan Thurston: NRL legend and Indigenous youth mentor Johnathan Thurston picked his distinctive headgear and a heart-warming letter from a young fan.

2018 WA Australian of the Year, Dr Tracy Westerman: A trailblazing advocate for mental health assessments in Indigenous communities, Dr Tracy Westerman selected a bottle of Pilbara dirt and ‘Certificate of Citizenship’ which speak directly to her family history.

Each year Australia celebrates the achievements and contributions of extraordinary people through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. The 2018 Australian of the Year Awards will be announced on 25 January 2018 at Parliament House, Canberra, and broadcast live on the ABC from 7.30pm.

Media contacts

National Museum of Australia & exhibition:
Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

National Australia Day Council & Australian of the Year Awards:
Nicole Browne, 0414 673 762 or


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