2018 has seen some remarkable shifts toward gender equality, and now we have one more to celebrate. For the first time, the ACT has an all-female line up contending for Australian of the Year and Young Australian of the Year in 2019.
Journalist Virginia Haussegger, disability advocate Rebecca Vassarotti, ecologist Kate Grarock and education reformer Megan Gilmour are all in the running for Australian of the Year, with the awards set to be announced on the 25th of January in Canberra.
Haussegger, who heads up the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis’ 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, and affiliated publication Broad Agenda, told the Canberra Times the nomination was “an incredible honour”, adding that the all female line-up was “enough of a win for me”.
“It really feeds into this very strong sense at the moment that now is our time,” Haussegger said. “I feel very excited for all of these women.”
Ecologist, Kate Grarock who undertook a PhD with the Australian National University and produced six scientific papers focussed on the effective management of introduced species also emerged a nominee.
After a stint in Vietnam at the country’s Academy of Science, Grarock returned to Canberra to take up a role as Sanctuary Ecologist at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary where she developed an innovative education program sharing science with policy makers, local community, early career researchers and students from preschool to university.
“I’ve always been so passionate about the environment and getting that to rub off on people,” she explained.
Megan Gilmour, another woman in the race, is the co-founder of MissingSchool – a not-for-profit organisation which connects children with serious illness to their schools and classrooms via robot technology.
While former Greens candidate and YWCA executive Vanessa Vassarotti, is a fierce advocate for individuals living with disability.
“It’s a pretty amazing group of women,” Vassarotti told the Canberra Times. “To be in that company is a very humbling and overwhelming experience.”
Nominees in the ACT Young Australian of the Year, include 2018 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards’ finalist, Hannah Wandel– CEO of Country to Canberra. An NFP that successfully delivers education and career opportunities to young women across rural Australia.
As well as refugee and migrant women advocate and enabler, Sophie Fisher, Indonesian language and bi-lateral relations champion, Sally Hill and Indigenous education and STEM pioneer Karlie Noon.