Happy Australia Day and thank you Rosie Batty

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Australian of the year for 2016, David Morrison, has resolved to continue Rosie Batty’s heroic and tireless advocacy, which targeted the Australian epidemic of domestic violence against women.

Rosie Batty’s enduring legacy is clearly visible – the woman that gave a human face to domestic violence and in so doing, started a powerful national conversation that has reverberated through Australian homes, workplaces, schools and the corridors of power. Importantly, Rosie Batty’s legacy is also that she has, like no previous recipient of the award, redefined the role of Australian of the year, using the award as leverage to bring about lasting social change.

Gone, it seems, and rightly so, are the days of a celebrity or sporting personality receiving the Australian of the year award, for Rosie Batty has shown us all what a powerful force ‘the voice’ of the Australian of the year can be. A voice so powerful it must not be wasted. A fact that incumbent, David Morrison, clearly recognises.

Morrison, along with fellow Australia Day winners, Dr Gordon Fulde (Senior Australian of the Year), Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett (Young Australians of the Year) and Dr Catherine Keenan (Australia’s Local Hero 2016) represent a quartet of amazing Australians – courageous, driven, with clear values, fearless advocates for their respective causes. Outspoken about the need for social change they deliver a message of hope that is built on collaboration and respect for our fellow Australians. They are unassuming. Their focus is on helping others. They are the modern flag bearers of our evolving ‘crimson thread of kinship’.

The father of our Australian Federation, Henry Parkes, once spoke about ‘crimson thread of kinship’. Whilst the context in which Parkes made these comments was exclusionary and is inappropriate today, the words continue to resonate – redefined for the better, by these wonderful Australians. Our 2016 Australian of the Year award winners inspire us to take action, set goals and bring about change. It is an exciting time to be Australian!