Address to morning tea for Australian of the Year Award finalists

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I am proud to lead a government committed to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in full.

And I am optimistic that in 2023, Australians will embrace the democratic opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our nation's birth certificate, our Constitution.

Jodie and I are delighted to welcome you all to The Lodge this morning.

A big thank you to Danielle Roche and her outstanding team at the National Australia Day Council who have worked so hard to bring together another great program of celebrations.

To Valmai Dempsey, Daniel Nour, Shanna Whan and - of course - Dylan Alcott, here celebrating your final day as our reigning Australians of the Year…

…can I say on behalf of all Australians, thank you for the service and inspiration you gave to our nation in your roles.

It's a funny thing, when you win an Australian of the Year Award, it's given in recognition of everything you have achieved and everything you have given in the years leading-up to that moment.

And yet as soon as you win we ask you to work harder and do more.

It's an honour and a challenge. A reward and a responsibility.

And it's to your eternal credit that each of you answered that call with such passion and enthusiasm and endless good humour.

It's been a genuine pleasure getting to know you and having the chance to work with you.

I hope that continues long into the future.

You have set a very high bar – and provided a remarkable and inspirational example for those who will follow.

Which brings me to our 2023 nominees.

Congratulations on being chosen by your states and territories, your communities and your fellow citizens as finalists.

Reading through your biographies, I was struck by two things.

First, the remarkable diversity of backgrounds, passions, causes and achievements that have brought you here today.

Right across the categories: Senior Australians, Young Australians, Local Heroes – celebrating the 20th year of that very important award - and Australians of the Year.

You are a vivid snapshot of the greatness of our modern nation.

And second, for all the variety of your endeavours, you are united by a common determination to use your talents to work for the good of others.

Whether that's taking-on big challenges in sustainability, in the environment, in medicine, maternal and mental health.

Speaking-up for people who have been driven to the margins – by poverty, disadvantage or discrimination.

Or using your platform and profile to inspire others to believe in their potential, and chase their dreams.

Yours is that deep love of country, that true and enduring patriotism - a determination to make Australia a better place.

Every one of you would be a worthy winner.

Because you are, already, great Australians.

Enjoy the morning – and good luck tonight.

Thank you very much.