Senior Australian of the Year 2021

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu and a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker has been announced as the Senior Australian of the year 2021 on Australia Day.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM

In 1975, Miriam-Rose became the Territory’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher. As an art consultant for the Department of Education, she visited schools through the Top End, advocating for the inclusion of visual art as part of every child’s education.


Miriam-Rose later became the principal of the Catholic school in her home community before being appointed to the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council. In 2013, she established the Miriam Rose Foundation, to bridge the divide between Aboriginal culture and mainstream society – driving reconciliation at a grassroots level.


Through her professional and creative life, Miriam-Rose has remained dedicated to maintaining the cultural independence of her people and being a spokesperson for the Aboriginal worldview. In recognition of her leadership, she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal and an Honorary PhD in Education from Charles Darwin University.


Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, offered his congratulations to the Senior Australian of the Year and paid tribute to the other nominees from across Australia and the winners in each state and territory.


“It must be a difficult task narrowing down the nominees each year, looking through those shortlisted for this honour shows that you can always make a difference.


“While there is only one Senior Australian of the Year, I am continually impressed by all of those Australians who are nominated - they should all be rightly proud of their achievements.”


Congratulations to each of the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year finalists, who continue to inspire and contribute to their communities.


New South Wales

Aunty Isabel Reid

Elder, survivor and advocate for the Stolen Generation


Bich Cam Nguyen

Refugee and migrant advocate, multicultural leader, CEO of the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association


Aunty McRose Elu

Advocate for Torres Strait communities and climate change


Brian Williams

Scout leader and mentor

South Australia

Professor Richard Bruggemann

Disability advocate

Western Australia

Dr Richard Walley OAM

Aboriginal cultural champion, musician, performer and artist

Australian Capital Territory

Patricia Anderson AO

Writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples


26 January 2021.