Former army chief David Morrison 2016 Australian of the year

Former army chief David Morrison is the 2016 Australian of the year.

As an Anglo-Saxon male, former Chief of Army David Morrison admits he's benefited from societal rules that
play in his favour.

It's exactly those rules he's trying to change.

Lieutenant General Morrison has taken the title of 2016 Australian of the Year for his passion for gender equality and workplace diversity.

As chief of army, he famously told misbehaving troops to "get out" of the force if they could not accept female colleagues and treat them equally.

His stern video message to Australia's soldiers went viral in 2013, earning him global recognition and sparking a cultural transformation in the force.

In his four years at the helm, female enrolment in the Army increased by 700.

The Australian of the Year title will give Gen Morrison the platform to try to change the rules, with the former Army chief hoping to use his year to promote workplace diversity and equality.

"The rules that we live by have largely been written by white Anglo-Saxon men," Gen Morrison told AAP.

"And the beneficiaries are, surprise surprise, white Anglo-Saxon men."

Gen Morrison, the ACT's finalist, retired as chief of army in May last year and took up his role as chair of the Diversity Council Australia, which advises business on diversity in the workplace.

"We need to be careful about the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves because that largely defines our culture," he said.

"If those stories are exclusive rather than inclusive, if they deny people opportunity on the basis of gender or the colour of their skin, then we as a society can't reach our potential."

Gen Morrison is also the former boss of a fellow finalist Catherine McGregor and refused to accept her resignation when she went public with her transformation from male to female.

In 2014, he spoke at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict with United States Secretary of State John Kerry and actress Angelina Jolie.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed Gen Morrison as the winner at a ceremony on the lawns of Canberra's Parliament House on Monday evening.

The former Army chief is optimistic about his cause.

"We've still got a long way to go," he said.

"I think it's getting better. I'm very much a glass half full kind of person on this."

Gen Morrison succeeds domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, whose 11-year-old son Luke was killed by his father in Melbourne just under two years ago.


Fulde named senior Australian of the Year

NSW doctor Gordian Fulde, the longest-serving emergency department director in the country, has been named Senior Australian of the Year.  

Professor Fulde has headed emergency at St Vincent's Hospital and Sydney Hospital for more than three decades.

The 67-year-old was recognised for his work campaigning against the scourge of ice and alcohol-fuelled violence - overwhelmingly the main cause of injury in emergency departments.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed Prof Fulde as this year's Senior Australians of the Year at a ceremony on the lawns of Canberra's Parliament House.  

Prof Fulde wants to use his year to advocate against violence, saying it has no place in Australia.  

"The individuals are fed up with what's happening," he told AAP at the ceremony.  

The doctor sees alcohol and drug fuelled violence regularly at St Vincent's, located in the party precinct of Kings Cross.  

"What we are doing now, a lot of it is unnecessary and stupid," he said.  

"There's no good reason to get blind drunk. Have a few drinks, BBQ, family, whatever."  

He wants Australians to understand the risks of alcohol.  

"Even if you're drinking a bottle of wine a night, you're destined for really serious health problems - from your brain to your heart," he said.  

"I want people to know that."  

For Prof Fulde, being a part of the Australian of the Year awards is like a "fairytale".   "It's like pinch. Is this real? Nah, it's not real," he said.  

In addition to his hospital work, Professor Fulde supports many schools and community organisations and sits on the board of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation.   He is also actively involved in teaching and training students and staff, and is a familiar face on the reality TV show Kings Cross ER.

Catherine Keenan named Australia's Local Hero 2016

Youth educator Catherine Keenan has been named Australia's Local Hero of 2016.

She gave up a successful career to help others, and for that Catherine Keenan has been honoured as Australia's Local Hero for 2016.

The former journalist, arts writer and literary editor has been recognised for her work as co-founder of the Sydney Story Factory.

Through the not-for-profit organisation, Dr Keenan has helped thousands of primary and high school students to improve their writing skills and cultivate their creativity through storytelling.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed Dr Keenan as this year's Australia's Local Hero at a ceremony on the lawns of Canberra's Parliament House on Monday evening.

Dr Keenan wants to use the year to improve literacy rates, particularly among indigenous young people.

"There are so many people who are doing incredible work in that area and we want to support them as much as possible," the NSW finalist told AAP at the ceremony.

Giving kids opportunities in the arts, like writing stories, painting pictures and singing songs is her other passion.

"If they learn to express themselves and who they are, they can end up being a different person and a better person," she said.

"And I think if we can give all kids that opportunity we can change the nation."

The Sydney Story Factory focuses on helping marginalised young Australians, especially those from indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds, but free classes are offered to all.

Dr Keenan has trained more than 1200 volunteers who work with students aged from seven to 17, as well as raise much-needed funds and build partnerships.

Best mates named Young Australians of Year

A couple of mates who invented a mobile laundry with an old van to help homeless people clean their clothes
are the Young Australians of the Year for 2016.

Queensland's finalists Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett started Orange Sky Laundry in 2014 in the back of their van and have expanded the service to five areas around the country.

More than 270 volunteers operate the vans - which have two commercial washing machines and two dryers - and reach homeless Australians in 36 locations.

Collectively they wash more than 350 loads each week in Brisbane, Melbourne, South East Victoria, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

In 2015, the best mates also took their service to North Queensland to help cyclone-affected communities.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed the pair as this year's Young Australians of the Year at a ceremony on the lawns of Canberra's Parliament House on Monday evening.

It's the first time an Australian of the Year award has been collected by two people.

Mr Patchett said hygiene of homeless Australians was constantly overlooked.

"The very first thing we all do in the morning is put a fresh set of clean clothes on and have a chat to someone," he told AAP at the ceremony.

"We thought everyone deserves that basic human right."

The pair want to expand their service Australia-wide in hopes of improving the lives of others.

"Unfortunately there are homeless people all around the world and we want to help every one of those people," Mr Marchesi told AAP.

"Our goal is to help every one of those 105,000 (homeless) Australians but also the Australian community."

Mr Marchesi and Mr Patchett take the title from last year's winner, deaf advocate Drisana Levitzke-Gray, who wants Australians to embrace her language of Auslan.

Source: AAP