A First Nations advocate, a Reverend, a breastfeeding educator and migrant advocate have been nominated for Tasmania's 2024 Senior Australian of the Year award.
They join fellow nominees across the state's awards program, which include Australian, Young Australian and Local Hero. Winners in all four categories will be announced on Friday, November 10, in a ceremony at Princess Wharf No1 in Hobart, which will also be available to watch online at australianoftheyear.org.au.
They will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the national awards announcement on Thursday, January 25, 2024 in Canberra.
When the Reverend James Colville AM opened the doors of Colony 47 in 1973, Hobart was a very different place.
There were no gay rights, access to contraception was difficult and people were rejected for being different.
After renting an old church at 47 Davey Street, Hobart, a coffee shop was opened where everyone was welcome and help provided when requested. This included many young people, older people, Indigenous Australians, the lonely, hungry and unemployed.
James believed those struggling with rejection had a lot to give with the right support - they just needed non-judgemental assistance, acceptance and respect.
Fifty years on, the not-for-profit organisation continues to deliver programs for Tasmanians in need, with a particular focus on housing. It's helped more than 50,000 households with bond or rental assistance, more than 7000 young people with early intervention support, and more than 17,500 young people with education and employment.
A highly respected elder of the Palawa Nation in lutruwita (Tasmania), Rodney, aged 67, has dedicated his life to rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He is often asked to speak to the media and sit on Indigenous panels and boards.
Rodney is focused on building economic, social and cultural security for First Nations peoples.
In 2022, he persuaded the state government to allow First Nations Tasmanians sea rights to harvest a commercial quota of abalone and profit from their catch. He's also negotiated the repatriation of Aboriginal artefacts and remains.
Equally important is Rodney's push for reconciliation and a more compassionate Australia. He co-founded weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation to promote positive working relationships with community groups and was part of the Referendum Working Group for the Voice to parliament.
Rodney was a nominee for the 2011 Australian of the Year for Tasmania. He continues to make an extraordinary contribution to Australian society and to call out injustice.
Rosalind (Ros) Escott AM has made outstanding contributions to breastfeeding education, convict women's history and family history research. What connects these passions is her dedication to women and their children.
Ros has been a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor and educator with the Australian Breastfeeding Association since 1987. She has spoken at many major conferences and worked for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners for 17 years.
Her other interest is using DNA to help people untangle family mysteries. In 2015, she established the Tasmanian Family History Society's DNA Interest Group. By mastering the intricacies of analysing DNA, Ros has helped dozens of individuals identify previously unknown parents and family members. Recipients say it's 'life changing'.
Ros, 74, also volunteers with the Female Convicts Research Centre and Convict Women's Press.
In 2023, she was created a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to women's health and to the community.
Sajini Sumar has championed the cause of migrant and culturally diverse women in Tasmania for decades, giving a voice to groups that are often silenced.
Having lived and worked around the world as a registered nurse, Sajini has used her lived experience and cultural understanding to assist, support and advocate for migrant women. She's helped new migrants develop networks and delivered school workshops to promote cross-cultural understanding and harmony.
In 2005, she co-founded the Multicultural Women's Council of Tasmania as a platform to develop and support women - and she's still lobbying and advocating for positive change.
Due to her outstanding work, 76-year-old Sajini has been a recipient of many community awards, including being inducted into the Honour Roll of Women in 2005 for her service to multicultural affairs.
In 2012, this 'champion of multiculturalism' was selected as a People of Australia ambassador to help promote multiculturalism and provide feedback to the Federal Government.
Our journalists work hard to provide up-to-date news for seniors across Australia. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.