The 2022 NSW Australian of the Year has been named as waste research scientist Professor Veena Sahajwalla.
The awards were announced in a ceremony at Luna Park, Sydney on Monday night, in the presence of Her Excellency Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
The 2022 NSW Senior Australian of the Year is President of Islamic Women's Welfare Association, Abla Kadous, while the young Australian of the Year is Dr Daniel Nour, Founder of Street Side Medics.
Founder and CEO of Sober in the Country, Shanna Whan, was named as the 2022 NSW Local Hero.
The four NSW recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on January, 25, 2022.
A materials scientist, engineer and inventor, 56 year old Professor Veena Sahajwalla pioneers research into waste - turning it into a new generation of green materials and products. She does this as the Founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the University of New South Wales.
Veena is most well known for her invention of Polymer Injection Technology, or 'Green Steel'. In 2018, she launched the first of many MICROfactories. She leads two national research and industrial transformation hubs, the ARC Microrecycling Research Hub and the National Environmental Science Program Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub.
Veena collaborates with leading universities and institutions, plus industry and community groups, to develop and apply new recycling science into real-world environmental and economic benefits. Veena is a judge on ABC TV's The New Inventors and has appeared on Q+A, The Drum, War on Waste and Australian Story.
She's been instrumental in raising the profile of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) in Australia, enhancing public understanding of its importance.
National Australia Day Council CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the NSW award recipients who now go on to be national finalists.
"The NSW award recipients are every day Australians doing extraordinary things," said Ms Brand.
"From scientific advancements and medical assistance for those most in need to using their experiences to support others facing similar challenges, their dedication and passion is to be celebrated.
"We look forward to welcoming them to Canberra in January for the national awards event."
NSW Senior Australian of the Year, Abla Kadous, helped set up the country's first welfare service for Muslim women after moving to Australia from Egypt.
Abla overcame financial restraints and other challenges to create the not-for-profit Islamic Women's Welfare Association (IWWA), of which she is currently President.
The organisation helps Islamic women feel welcome and participate in their communities.
Abla leads 50 other volunteers and staff and, despite being in her 70s, is still active in the thriving organisation. Impressively, she raised enough money through sewing, cooking and sourcing items to sell to buy a state-of-the-art function centre for IWWA.
Abla has also helped bridge the gap with other religions by organising inter-faith forums in Western Sydney.
Abla has been volunteering for more than 35 years. Her generosity and energy is a true inspiration to her family, community and country.
The 2022 NSW Young Australian of the Year is Dr Daniel Nour, Founder of Street Side Medics.
Identifying a gap in the healthcare of vulnerable people in New South Wales, Dr Daniel Nour founded Street Side Medics in August 2020. It's a not-for-profit, GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness.
With 145 volunteers, and four clinics across New South Wales, Street Side Medics has changed the lives of more than 300 patients. It has treated many communicable and non-communicable illnesses, dealt with neglected medical needs, and detected conditions that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. This includes diabetes, thyroid disorders, hepatitis C, HIV, heart disease and cancer.
Despite working full time at Royal North Shore Hospital, 26 year old Daniel has rarely missed a clinic across the four sites since Street Side Medics launched. He volunteers his afternoons to ensure the clinics are run smoothly and patients are receiving the care they deserve.
With his leadership and social consciousness, Daniel is committed to making a real difference to the lives of many Australians. He's also making significant improvements to society.
Founder and CEO of Sober in the Country, Shanna Whan, is the 2022 NSW Local Hero.
Shanna Whan is single-handedly creating radical social impact and change around how we discuss and use alcohol in rural Australia.
When Shanna almost lost her life to alcohol addiction in 2015, giving up drinking was just the start. What began as volunteer work to help others locally, evolved into a grassroots charity called Sober in the Country
(SITC) which now has a national reach and offers peer support, powerful broadscale advocacy and education.
Shanna donated about 20,000 hours to the cause and now travels on invitation as the spokesperson for SITC. She has appeared on multiple major national media platforms, in person, in paddocks and at conferences.
She courageously shared her harrowing journey to sobriety on Australian Story in 2019. Now, through the national charity, the 47 year old is amplifying the essential, life-saving message and charity campaign that it is always "OK to say no" to booze.
ACM, publisher of this masthead, is proud Media Partner of the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards.
This story first appeared on the South Coast Register.