Victorian Australian of the Year 2016 final four
Anna Brown - Equality activist (Melbourne)
An unsung hero in the fight to advance equality, Anna Brown’s fingerprints are on almost every recent legal and political win for Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. From the successful bid to erase unjust historical criminal records for homosexual conduct to the fight for legal recognition of gender diversity, Anna has been at the centre of almost every advance in LGBTI rights in recent years. Anna’s career highlights include playing a lead role in securing federal discrimination laws to protect LGBTI people, achieving an historic apology from the Victorian Police for the raid on the Tasty nightclub and strategic litigation to advance marriage equality. Anna also spearheaded the No to Homophobia campaign, working closely with the Australian Football League and other sporting codes to stamp out prejudice. Co-convener of the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby and Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at the Human Rights Law Centre, Anna works to reduce stigma and discrimination suffered by LGBTI Australians.
Professor George Jelinek - Leading medical professional (Carlton North)
When George Jelinek was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1999, he was determined that the disease would not dictate his fate. A distinguished career as a professor in emergency medicine and a background as editor-in-chief of a major medical journal gave George the tools to examine the medical literature on MS. By enquiring deeply using scientific methods, George discovered that MS could be controlled through lifestyle factors such as good nutrition and exercise. Initiating the world’s first lifestyle MS self-help program in 2002, George has shared his findings with the world. Together with others who remain well with MS, George has founded Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, a charitable organisation with subsidiaries worldwide. He has written countless papers for academic journals, conducted research studies and hosts regular retreats for people living with MS. In 2015, George was appointed Professor and Head of Neuroepidemiology at a new unit within the University of Melbourne and continues his search for evidence-based science that helps people with MS lead healthy lives.
Julian McMahon - Barrister and human rights advocate (Alphington)
A human rights advocate and fierce opponent of the death penalty, barrister Julian McMahon has a personal and passionate commitment to represent Australians in capital punishment cases abroad. Admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1998, for more than 12 years Julian has worked without payment for Australians facing the death penalty. Julian’s clients include Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore, George Forbes in Sudan and members of the Bali Nine, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. In the months leading up to the executions of Chan and Sukumaran in April 2015, the overwhelming demands of their case required Julian and other lawyers on the case to make many personal sacrifices and, in Julian’s case, to exclude all other work. Instead, he remained wholly focused on his clients. Articulate and measured, Julian presented at the Asian Regional Congress on the Death Penalty in June 2015 in Malaysia and continues to speak out in opposition to the death penalty.
David McNamara - Food relief champion (Yarraville)
A former chef with a passion for food, David McNamara’s career has taken him from some of Melbourne’s best-known restaurants to leading the largest food relief charity in Victoria. As the Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank Victoria, David is focused on feeding the hungry, an issue faced by many Australians. He has reimagined community dining experiences for the disadvantaged, established corporate partnerships and distributed 8.5 million kilograms of food, equivalent to 17 million meals in the past year. David’s ability to inspire his team and volunteers, work closely with almost 500 welfare agencies and advocate on behalf of those going hungry is admired by all he meets. In 2015, after successfully lobbying government, David secured funding for a program to ensure 25,000 students in disadvantaged primary schools eat breakfast each day. He brings out the best in those around him and is determined to ‘do what’s right’ for both his team and the people who Foodbank serves.