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Celebrating citizenship

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Active citizen

Be an active citizen—whether you were born in Australia or choose to become an Australian citizen. Active citizenship is about getting involved in your local community and displaying values such as respect, inclusion and helping others.  

Local Hero Award

The Department of Home Affairs, partners with the National Australia Day Council, and supports active citizenship by sponsoring the Local Hero category in the Australian of the Year Awards. The Local Hero Award acknowledges extraordinary contributions made by Australians in their local community.


Learn more about the Local Hero Award

Lisa Curry AO MBE – National Australia Day Council Chair 2000 – 2008
Local heroes are really important to keeping Australian communities strong because they’re the glue. They’re there to inspire, to communicate with, to stay motivated, to lift everybody in that community when the chips are down.

Eddie Woo – 2018 Australia’s Local Hero
I stand before you not as an individual, but as a proud representative of every teacher around the country. 

Shanna Whan – 2022 Australia’s Local Hero
Rural people are worth fighting for because they get up and they show up in fire and flood and droughts and plagues and pandemics. And they put food on the nation’s table. So the least we can do as a nation is make sure they are getting support when they look for it.

Shane Phillips – 2013 Australia’s Local Hero
Anything is possible. You are the answer and it only starts with the simple things.

Adam Gilchrist AM – National Australia Day Council Chair 2008 2014
Australia’s Local Hero category was added to reflect so many Australians out there that contribute to their local community.

Juliette Wright OAM – 2015 Australia's Local Hero
When I give, I feel incredible joy but I also feel this great sense of connection.

Danielle Roche OAM - National Australia Day Council Chair 2017 - Current
Our Local heroes are everyday Australians who achieve extraordinary things. These are Australians who we celebrate as an example of what we can achieve when we put others before ourselves.

The Hon Andrew Giles MP – Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs
Australia’s Local Hero Award is a celebration and acknowledgement of those in our communities who reach out a hand to help others. Their selfless actions have a life changing impact on those around them. Thank you to each of the finalists for being outstanding role models for all of us. Congratulations.

Phillip Adams AO – National Australia Day Council Chair 1992-1996
Out of almost countless millions of fellow Australians we choose this handful each year to honour them, to support them and to encourage them.

Kate and Tick Everett – 2019 Australia’s Local Hero
Out of our tragedy, we created Dolly’s Dream, a vision to educate families and communities on the impacts that bullying has on young lives.

Bernie Shakeshaft – 2020 Australia’s Local Hero
To our Aussie kids doing it tough. Hang on. Don’t give up. Help’s on the way.

Adam Gilchrist AM – National Australia Day Council Chair 2008 – 2014
These are the people that form the fabric of our nation they’re on call 24-7 and will jump whenever there is an emergency or someone needs help and as I say they show you what is great about the people of Australia.

Rosemary Kariuki OAM, Australia’s Local Hero 2021, encourages Australians to be active citizens – Know your neighbour

The first impression I had of Australia and its people is wow. I didn't know anyone. I landed at night and just saw this many lights. It looked like heaven. This beautiful Ethiopian lady, who I still called my Aussie mum, came and talked to me and she took me in, although she didn't know me. So my impression was a country with open people. And for sure, now what I know today, I can still say the same.


The challenges that I found in Australia is people are not talking to me. Back home, everybody stops to talk to you, and here nobody was talking to me. I was living in an apartment, which had 15 apartments, and no one talked to me. I challenged them by putting a card under their door and wishing them a happy Christmas, Merry Christmas. They all started talking to me. They invited me to their homes. What Australians don't know. They don't know how to offer information. They wait to be asked. But how can I ask a question I don't know? If I see you need something, I'll tell you. I don't have to wait for you to ask me. That's the challenges I found. People not giving information freely.


The main challenges I see with the migrant and the refugee women is not having community. Here you come alone. If you are lucky, you come with your family of maybe two, three. That's the only people you have. So we missed that a lot. Like when I came this country, I was alone. So I had to look for my family, a family here. And that's how I started volunteering. And I started visiting people at the nursing home. Many people also come without language. Language is the hardest. 'Cause you cannot communicate if you don't have the language. So it's very challenging with employment. And you'll find somebody with even a master's or even PhD driving an Uber. Not because they want to drive that Uber, but they want to put the bread on table for their children.


I support women who are lonely, who have no jobs, who have no tomorrow. I support them to give them back their confidence, to give them that light that they don't have. Once you educate a woman, you have educated a whole village. And that woman you've given information and empowered will empower other women. And that's why I go out there, connect them with the jobs, connect them with the social groups, connect them with the GPs, even walk with them if they cannot walk where they're supposed to walk. I support that woman, my job is done. I have helped the husband, the children and even the neighbours.


I'm calling all the Australians, near and far, to open their hearts, to open their homes, to know their neighbours. Get out there and know your neighbour. There will be everyone talking to each other. Walk across the road, go and talk to that woman who wears a hijab, that man who doesn't speak English, those kids, which are running up and down. Share with the person who is cooking, maybe a barbeque. And you can imagine a whole street party. If everybody is happy, depression is gone, crime is gone, and we'll be the first country to be a happy country.


How do you get to know your neighbour? You can just go across the road and just say, "Hello." Your neighbour is not just the one next to you. Your neighbour can be all your community. Your neighbour can be that person who you know doesn't have anyone, especially the seniors. A neighbour is that person from a different culture. You'd love to know about their culture. Learn about that migrant who is next door to you. That refugee. Let us not just think what have they come to take from us? Let us change our thinking. In this country, we have a lot that we can share. We want to learn about this beautiful country that we have come here. And through all that, we build a very strong community with a sense of belonging.


So go out there and get to know your neighbour.


Local Heroes and other Australian of the Year alumni showcase how to be an active citizen

G’day I’m Bernie Shakeshaft, Australia’s Local Hero for 2020.

Being an Aussie fills me with pride, but what does it actually mean to be an Aussie and play an active part of our communities? My friends and I think we’ve worked it out.

Aussies are role models in sport, the arts, in classrooms and life.

Aussies recognise the need to be allies and a champion for equality.

Aussies reach out a helping hand to those in need.

Aussies know that our land sustains us.

Aussies are champions for gender equality.

Aussies know that our multicultural diversity makes communities stronger.

You don’t need to be famous or to win an award – being an Aussie is about what each of us does in our own communities and how we lift each other up.

So, get to it. Keep being an Aussie and making Australia an even better place to call home.


Eddie Woo – Australia’s Local Hero 2018

I am a high school mathematics teacher, which means that every day my task is to take a subject which can be quite intimidating, and actually cause anxiety for people, and make that accessible and even enjoyable. In fact I really believe that mathematics is found everywhere and it’s for everyone, and helping people come to that conviction themselves that's what I get to do every single day. Being Australia’s Local Hero has helped me put attention on the fact that this is really great important work that happens in communities and schools around the country and I love being part of a society where school is a given and that we say to every young person ‘you deserve an education’ and for me it’s wonderful to have that connection with people. No matter where you are from or what your parents do or your background, there is a place for you in our school and that is what I love about being chosen as a Local Hero.

Aussie of the Month

The Department of Home Affairs also sponsors the Aussie of the Month primary school recognition program. The program encourages students to contribute to their communities and think of others.

Eddie Woo - Aussie of the Month video

Eddie Woo Aussie of the Month:
G’day, I’m Eddie and I’ll tell you what, there is nothing better than seeing your friends acknowledged for the contributions they make in your school and community. And there is a way to recognise them. It’s called Aussie of the Month, it’s a way of saying ‘awesome job’, ‘good on you’ and ‘you’re amazing’. Every month, kids in schools across Australia are being celebrated, students just like you who strive to see their school yard and community be the best place it can be.

Anisha – I was Aussie of the Month because I have been a great role model to my class.

Jesmine – I got the Aussie of the Month because I smiled and made other people smile.

Albert – I was Aussie of the Month because each Saturday I go to the aged care facility on the Vincent Road to play the piano - hey Albert hit it – <Piano music plays>

Aabha – I like making people smile because it makes me feel happy and grateful about them.

Charlize – Aussie of the Month means that you can be a role model and show leadership to the younger kids.

Eddie Woo – The best part of Aussie of the Month is students all around Australia are being recognised for helping others. It creates a real sense of pride in schools and communities.

Charlize – So Miss Payne what is Aussie of the Month mean to you?

Miss Payne – To me, Aussie of the Month means being an active member of the community, really engaging in all those different community aspects looking after the school, the people in it as part of the civic and citizenship curriculum strand. It ties in really well into what we do at this school as well.

Various Children
It was a great honour to earn this award and I felt very proud coz I heard all my friends cheering for me.

When I was Aussie of the Month I was surprised.

When I was Aussie of the Month I felt excited.

I couldn’t believe it that I did so well.

I had a lot of pride and then I realised what I did to get the award I felt really really excited and proud.

Eddie Woo - celebrating the values of mateship, respect, inclusion and a fair go means anyone of you can be Aussie of the Month.

Various Children - Mateship is respect. Mateship is when you listen to others. Being kind and not being rude and just being truthful. It means to have a good mate by your side and have fun with them.

Eddie Woo – Whether you nominate someone or are nominated yourself, it’s a way for everyone to show their pride in the people that make the school yard and community a better place.

Jesmine – So Miss Payne, what does respect mean to you?

Miss Payne – Respect to me means looking after everyone. Making sure everyone is ok.

Various Children
To treat others nicely how you would treat someone in your family.

How I show respect is I don’t leave people out to include others and treat them how you would want to be treated.

A fair go means that you have a try and you make it fair.

When you include people it doesn’t just make them feel good it also makes you feel really happy.

To include people and help them when they need help.

Eddie Woo - Aussie of the Month is about being a good friend, being fair and helping others. It is about celebrating our diverse communities and making sure everyone is included. For more information and to register your school for this free program visit aussieofthemonth.org.au

Ways you can be an active citizen

There are many ways you can contribute to and participate in your community as an active citizen. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend a citizenship ceremony in your area to welcome and support new Australian citizens.
  • Lead by example and be a role model by being respectful and inclusive of others and ensuring a fair go for all.
  • Raise awareness and encourage discussion of the Australian values that unite us and the significance of Australian citizenship on Citizenship Day (17 September).
  • Welcome refugees and help them to settle into Australia.
  • Celebrate the strength in our multicultural community by participating in Harmony Week and Refugee Week in your local community.
  • Share your citizenship story and what Australian citizenship means to you on social media using #AustralianCitizenship, #AustralianCitizen​ and @AusHomeAffairs.​​