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Rosie Martin, speech pathologist Australian of the Year 2017, Tasmania.

Speech pathologist
Australian of the Year 2017, Tasmania

Humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with the disease just before her 50th birthday. Refusing to be defeated by the diagnosis, Kate has transformed tragedy into triumph, and become a voice for the 47.5 million people worldwide living with dementia.

Helping prisoners crack the code of reading, speech pathologist Rosalie Martin has developed a unique approach to literacy. For three years, Rosalie has volunteered at Tasmania’s Risdon Prison, delivering Just Sentences, a pilot project that is helping prisoners to open new doors and explore new worlds.

Rosalie's perfume bottle, family photograph and golden cowrie shells

Wearing perfume is more than a habit for Rosalie Martin. To mark special occasions she chooses a new perfume ‘off the shelf’ without sampling it. That scent is then forever associated with a special moment or place.

In 1998 Rosalie, her husband and two sons aged 11 and eight lived in Fiji for a few months. When leaving Fiji, Rosalie asked the woman serving her to choose a perfume. She chose Cool Water Woman, as she loved the cool waters of her beautiful country.

Rosalie believes her experiences in Fiji have helped shape her approach to work and willingness to try new things.

A photo of a man, woman and two boys in shallow water; two shells and a blue perfume bottle.
Family photograph, golden cowrie shells and perfume bottle. On loan from Rosalie Martin

The power of change

Uprooting from Australia and living barefoot in Fijian villages was the best educational decision I ever made for my children. And for me. I learned that one can just step off the conveyor belt of life and exercise choice outside of societal expectation. In those months I learned something experientially deep about choice and about an ‘I can’ attitude. About chutzpah.

Memories and emotions

When I use this scent, I am reminded of the gentle humility, grace and open warmth of the Fijian people. There, I learned presence, and listening, boldness, and a different humility. I learned freedom. These are the emotional experiences which moved me deeply in Fiji; and why the contents of a little blue bottle have power to forever touch my soul.

Diving for dreams

My husband is a diver and, like I do with perfume, he collects shells: it is his dream to find a golden cowrie. These specimens, both bought in Fiji, remind me that one may dream of utopia, and that to live that dream, one must act. If Richard ever finds a golden cowrie, I know he will leave it on the ocean floor. To ‘be with’ and to ‘have seen’ is enough. One does not need to control a thing to be in its full joy.
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