The Australian of the Year Award was first presented on 26 January 1961. Since then, our nation has continued to honour the contribution of some of its most worthy citizens through an annual Awards program.
The Australians of the Year Walk along the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, designed by the National Capital Authority, comprises a series of plinths, seats and lighting. Incorporated in the pathway are five metal strips set flush in the concrete, representing the five music stave lines. The plinths are placed in musical note position to the score of Advance Australia Fair. Fixed to each plinth is an anodised aluminium plaque containing the names and images of the Australians of the Year. There is one plaque for each year of the award. The plaques are arranged chronologically, starting at the western end of the path near Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
The Awards have evolved over the years, from an ad hoc administrative arrangement in the first twenty years, to the National Australia Day Committee which was established in 1979. The National Australia Day Council was formed in 1984 - a Commonwealth-funded body with direct representation from each state and territory.
As the Awards have grown in popularity and prestige, so the program has expanded. There are now three categories complementing the original award: the Young Australian of the Year (introduced in 1979), Senior Australian (1999) and the Local Hero Awards (2003). The four annual awards enable the Council to promote both unsung and eminent Australians. The environment for achievement may be a remote country town, a cosmopolitan stage, hi-tech laboratory or urban skyscraper.A full list of recipients of all awards can be found on the Australian of the Year website.