Australian of the Year Awards

Meet the Western Australian Recipients for the 2017 Australian of the Year Awards.

2018 Australian of the Year Award (WA) finalists

2018 Australian of the Year (WA Recipient)



Dr Tracy Westerman


A childhood yearning to be a psychologist was sorely tested when Njamal woman Dr Tracy Westerman left her home in the Pilbara to attend university in Perth and she struggled to reconcile mainstream psychology with Aboriginal culture. Tracy’s PhD research resulted in the development of several unique psychological tests to identify Aboriginal people at risk of suicide and mental ill health. In 1998, she founded Indigenous Psychological Services solely to address the high rates of mental illness among Aboriginal people in the absence of government funding. Now an internationally-recognised leader, Tracy has trained 22,000 -plus clinicians in culturally-appropriate psychological approaches and delivered her suicide intervention programs into remote Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. She has been an expert witness at numerous parliamentary inquires and her Aboriginal suicide prevention strategies have been emulated in Canada. A trailblazer, Tracy has spent over two decades working to reduce the burden of mental illness in Aboriginal people and ensure minimum standards of cultural competence in her profession.

2018 Senior Australian of the Year (WA Recipient)


Kathleen Mazzella OAM
Women's Health Champion

Facing a radical gynaecological cancer diagnosis at the age 39, Kathleen Mazzella was convinced she was alone. In her search to find someone else facing the same experience, Kath placed an ad in Woman’s Day, receiving 38 responses from women all over Australia who felt the same sense of isolation and embarrassment. Determined to connect and empower other women, and to reduce the stigma and squeamishness around women’s health, Kath established the Perth-based Gynaecological Awareness Information Network. Since then, Kath has become a voice for the millions of Australian women managing polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, sexually transmitted diseases, hysterectomies and more. At the core of her work is a straight-talking message: embarrassment around gynaecological issues risks lives. Kath breaks down the social stigma by sharing her journey and challenges, and promoting a positive preventative message. Twenty-two years after her initial diagnosis, Kath has not only survived, but thrived and dedicated her life to ensuring no other woman suffers in silence. 

2018 Young Australian of the Year (WA Recipient)



Samantha Kerr

When her dream of playing for the West Coast Eagles was shot down because she was the wrong gender, Samantha Kerr switched to another football code – soccer. By the time she was 15, Sam was representing Australia in the Matildas. Now, aged 24, Sam has held contracts with Sydney FC, Perth Glory and is in her fifth season in America's National Women's Soccer League, recently becoming its all-time leading goal scorer. In 2017, she was named a finalist for FIFA Female Player of the Year. Arguably the best women's soccer player in the world, Sam is an engaging ambassador for all women's sport. Her love for the game and her country is infectious. While she celebrates her prolific goal-scoring ability with a trademark backflip, Sam is a well-grounded athlete who inspires young and old with her athletic prowess and sportsmanship. Sam’s star power packs out arenas around the world, and encourages young women everywhere to chase their dreams.

2018 Local Hero WA


Cr Peter Lyndon James
Addiction Treatment Specialist

After struggling with addiction for most of his life Peter Lyndon-James understands how hard it is to break free. Coming from a broken home, Peter was in and out of prisons from the age of nine, and addicted to drugs for 26 years. In 2001, this one-time career criminal left gaol for the last time, studied theology and spent five years as a volunteer chaplain at Acacia Prison. In 2012, he opened Shalom House in Perth’s Swan Valley, a 140-bed facility he calls “the strictest rehab in Australia”. Peter’s self-funded program helps up to 120 men struggling with addictions. Wearing his hard-knock heart on his sleeve, Peter works intensively with program residents to help them face their demons, identify past failures and establish future goals. His system is working, and today he leads a team of up to 70 staff and volunteers. This year, Peter was elected to the City of Swan Council to represent his hometown of Altone Ward.