A new exhibition has launched at the National Museum to highlight the Australian of the Year recipients for 2023.
The display features emotive and personal objects from eight state and territory recipients who have been highly commended and acknowledged for their contributions in their communities.
The objects reflect each recipient’s life story, work and experiences.
National Museum director Mathew Trinca said the museum was thrilled to feature the captivating objects selected by the “eight extraordinary individuals”.
“Objects underpin the biography of a person, reveal significant moments in a person’s life, and connect to the broader social or political impact the person has had,” he said.
“We invite all Australians to see the objects on display, discover the remarkable stories of the Australians who selected them, and reflect on the issues they raise.
“Our new cases are much lighter and contain more space… and we’re delighted to present a new case this year that celebrates 20 years of Australia’s Local Hero Award.”
The 2023 Australian of the Year exhibition lead curator Mikhala Harkins-Foster said the exhibition highlighted people who have done admirable things in their communities.
“These objects have been selected by the recipients, who are giving us a glimpse of who they are as people,” she said.
“It just reminds us that anyone in Australia could be one of these people.
“We have so many recipients this year from so many different varied backgrounds. It just goes to show that whatever your interests are and wherever your passions are, you can really choose to make a difference.”
2023 marks the exhibition’s ninth year.
“We aim to tell national stories here, but national stories don’t exist without individuals who take the time and use their skills and talents to build their country,” Ms Harkins-Foster said. “That’s exactly what the Australian of the Year recipients are doing.
“We hope everyone knows you can nominate an Australian of the Year at anytime.
“Jump on board, think about who in your community is making a difference and what category they might fit in and nominate away.”
ACT Australian of the Year recipient and insect farming pioneer, Olympia Yarger said being recognised in this way “felt incredibly impactful”.
“It’s a special thing I’m looking forward to taking care of and honouring,” she said.
“I’ve won awards for technology and the work of my team – that’s been amazing. But I’ve never been acknowledged to this magnitude.
“Irrespective of how the next evolution of the awards go, my work is solely focused on managing as much waste as we possibly can, improving the technology to do the job better each time and growing the team that can deliver that service across Australia.
“I will definitely be using the ACT Australian of the Year Award platform to bring awareness to climate change and the need for infrastructure to solve climate problems.”
Olympia hopes to inspire others to turn their ideas into reality.
“You can often turn yourself off trying to realise great ideas because you think they should look a certain way or you should have a certain set of skills,” she said.
“But I’m not an engineer and I’m not a scientist. I’m just an agricultural professional, I built a robot. I want people to understand things don’t need to be amazing from the beginning, and that good enough is good enough for each stage of your development.”
The winner of the Australian of the Year for 2023 will be announced on Wednesday, 25 January 2023.
The exhibition will be on display until Sunday, 12 February 2023. See the full list of recipients here.