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HomeIssue 1Why not a little old lady as Australian of Year?

Why not a little old lady as Australian of Year?

p2307-John-Bell-(right)LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – On the naming of our 57th of Australian of the Year, we should re-evaluate our national expectations of the qualities that are most desired for this most prestigious of awards.
Of the 56 recipients up to 2015, 13 have been sportspeople. Sporting icons have had disproportionate representation on the list of recipients down the years since its inauguration in 1960. Usually they are accorded subsequent recognition for other attributes.
In comparison, the next largest proportion have been to Aboriginal recipients for their contribution to the Indigenous community.
All those recipients and the vast majority of the others have been in the news at the time of their award in some way or other.
A significant proportion of them are in receipt of handsome remuneration and leading a comfortable lifestyle.
I am a keen sports fan, but as I have grown older I have come to realise that sport is just sport. I have also come to realise that publicity plays a big part in the award.
I live for the day when a little old lady, on an age pension, unsung in a no-name local organisation, and without any sporting background, is named Australian of the Year for a lifetime service delivering meals on wheels to the poor, the sick and the needy.
On that day, I will say, yes, that person fills all the criteria as a true Australian of the Year.
John Bell, Heidelberg Heights, Vic, formerly Alice Springs
PHOTO AT TOP: Mr Bell, at right, after Honda Masters Mile. “Not sure if it was 1996,” he says. “The other bloke was from NZ I think, but I don’t recall his name.”


  1. I fully support the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander are given the honour of Australian of the Year.
    My view is that it is not appropriate now for sportspeople to continue to receive a higher percentage of the award than any other group in these modern times.
    All sections of the Australian community should be encouraged to engage in active public debate to honour those among us who go unsung for the little things they do for other people all their lives, but never get publicity for their good deeds. I am sure we can all think immediately of someone like that.

  2. How true. We have quite a few persons in our, and I guess in every, community who deserve to be Australian of the year. Nothing against the doctors, sports people or academics (is it not their job and get paid well to work for the community?) but why are we not recognizing people that really serve the community as volunteers and make a difference?
    Last year was different. I think that is why she had such huge support, not only with politicians, but people from all walks in life supported her and the cause.
    I think she really achieved a change in our thinking, and that is what Australian of the Year is all about.
    At least that’s what I think and that is why I always would support the “little old lady that distributes the meals on wheels”.


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