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Nominations for the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards are open!

Nominations for the 2021 Australian of the Year Awards are open!

The awards for Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia’s Local Hero awards are all open to help recognise amazing people who make extraordinary contributions to their communities.

This year, 22 year old Mr Yaralu Thomas, a Nyangumarta Pitjikarli man, originally from Warralong, southeast of Port Hedland, won the 2020 Young Australian of the Year Award.

Check out the below article by Ngaarda Media, sharing Mr Thomas’s story!

“Mr Thomas is a medical student and Precision Public Health Fellow in genetic and rare diseases.

“I’m in my fourth of seven years, so it’s sort of getting to the midway point, just past the midway point and the goal at the end of all this is hopefully move back to the Pilbara and work back up home in the communities that I grew up and the communities that I have family at. And so yeah, just taking it one step at a time”.

The first in his community to complete a high-school certificate, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the University of Sydney. Between his bachelor’s degree and MD, Yarlalu was awarded the inaugural Roy Hill Community Foundation Fellowship.

“I certainly wasn't the role model student growing up. I was obsessed with footy, always had the dream of making the AFL, but by the age of 16 there were a few hints there that I wasn’t going to make it. So I thought what’s my plan B in life, and I think that’s such an important thing for young people to have these days, is a plan A, plan B right through to plan Z. And growing up I used to see issues with health that we have out in the communities, especially with my aunties and uncles and it was something that I wanted to change”.

Mr Thomas now works with the WA Register of Developmental Anomalies, Genetic Services WA and Cliniface, to transform genetic health care services for remote Indigenous people.

Yarlalu also works with Pilbara Faces, which aims to understand 3D facial variation of ATSI peoples to provide more accessible, quicker and non-invasive diagnosis for children with rare and genetic diseases.

Yarlalu also launched the UNESCO-endorsed Life Languages project to translate medical terminology into ATSI languages, and indigenous languages internationally. He combines the newest scientific and medical knowledge with old and ancient wisdom. And Yarlalu mentors and tutors Aboriginal boarding students, helping them adjust to their new lifestyle.

“To be honest, growing up I was quite fortunate to get a scholarship to go down to school in Perth where I was the first to finish high school, Year 12 essentially. And it’s pretty amazing to go back and think that I’m the first of my family. But the more amazing thing is seeing what’s happened since. And I’ve got a lot of cousins now that have gone down and followed in the same footsteps and achieving what they want to achieve in life. And it all starts with getting an education and it makes me proud to see that continue down the track.”

Thanks to Ngaarda Media for sharing Mr Thomas’s story. Originally published by Ngaarda Media, you can view the original article here.

If you know an inspiring and deserving person, nominate them today!

Nominations close midnight 31 July 2020.

To nominate and for more information, click here.