Longtime ABC newsreader and women’s advocate Virginia Haussegger has been named the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year at a ceremony held at the National Arboretum on Monday night (29 October).
Haussegger beat an all-women field of Region Media regular contributor Rebecca Vassarotti, sanctuary ecologist at Mulligan’s Flat Kate Grarock, and Megan Gilmour, one of the founders of an education initiative to ensure seriously ill children don’t miss school.
For over 25 years, Ms Haussegger has built a stellar career as a television journalist, writer and commentator, reporting around the globe for leading current affairs programs on Channel 9, the Seven Network and the ABC, and anchoring the ABC’s flagship TV News in Canberra.
Ms Haussegger is also recognised as a leading advocate for women and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014.
In 2016, she was appointed to head the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis’ 50/50 by 2030 Foundation – a gender-equality initiative focused on improving women’s representation in leadership roles in government and public administration.
She is a sought-after speaker, addressing corporate and government forums on women’s rights, gender equality and the media. She also advocates for women through her positions on various boards and committees, including Women in Media and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.
Country to Canberra seeks to equip girls to become leaders in their communities and reach their potential, with the program helping young women to have a greater understanding of equality issues and improved self-confidence.
The 29-year-old’s passion for helping others was inspired by the generous response of her rural community when a fire destroyed her family’s home when Hannah was just 13-years-old.
In 2018, Ms Wandel’s amazing energy and drive saw her travel over 32,000 kilometres to 80 bush communities nationally, to reach over 3500 teenage girls to run gender equality, leadership and empowerment workshops.
The 2019 ACT Local Hero is disability advocate David Williams, who founded the Confident Speakers program 22 years ago, providing participants with the skills and tools they need to communicate their viewpoint and participate in the broader community.
The 2019 ACT Senior Australian of the Year went to the 76-year-old paediatrician and child advocate Sue Packer. Dr Packer has been involved in child abuse prevention through the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) since its very early days and has treated babies and children suffering terrible trauma from child abuse.