Seven Western Australians shine bright at the WA of the Year Awards 2021.

The Western Australian of the Year Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding Western Australians, who have made extraordinary contributions to the state, in a range of fields.

Winners were announced at a gala dinner on the eve of the WA day long weekend. From a pool of 37 outstanding finalists the following West Australian’s were chosen as this year’s winners:

West Australian of the Year and the Community Award

Beating 36 other finalists across 7 categories, Richard Goyder AO took home the Community Award (sponsored by Alcoa of Australia) and the top honour of the night, the West Australian of the Year award.

The Telethon chairman was recognised for his commitment to philanthropy, most notably for overseeing last year’s record-breaking $46.3 million fundraiser for medical research, which came at a crucial time for many in the non-profit sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s an acknowledgement of all the people I work with. Also the passion and commitment of the community I am involved in. We are ambitious, we want to raise money and help more people. I have type one diabetes and I am passionate about finding a cure for that.” Mr Goyder said after winning the Community Award.

Aboriginal Award

The Aboriginal Award, sponsored by Wesfarmers, was won by Karla Hart.

She’s an award-winning artist, filmmaker and actor, as well as a presenter for Noongar Radio, where she pioneered the first Noongar language program.

“This means so much to me, for my county, people and my family, especially all my Noongar people. It’s a responsibility of mine to go forth and take all the opportunities my grandma never had.” Ms Hart said.

Arts and Culture Award

Alex Coles OBE, currently the CEO of WA’s new $405 million WA Museum, won the Arts and Culture Award, sponsored by Woodside Energy.

The WA Museum Boola Bardip opened in the Perth Cultural Centre on Saturday 21 November 2020 with nine-days of celebration. The name Boola Bardip means ‘many stories’ in the Noongar language, with the focus of the museum on WA’s Indigeneous past and to showcase Aboriginal work.

Business Award

Sponsored by APM, the Business Award went to Julia Redwood, the co-founder of Prospero Productions, which has gone on to become WA’s biggest employer in the independent screen sector.

The production company created many documentaries such as those about the loss of HMAS Sydney, the Piper Alpha offshore oil disaster, the world of SAS soldiers and the rise in fatal shark attacks.

“What would I say to someone aspiring to be in the arts community? Just go for it. Just have a go and hang in there. Just don’t give up, you just can’t. There are times when you really want to just give up but just hang in there.” said Ms Redwood in her inspirational speech after her win.

Professions Award

A world-leading expert on Streptococcus A infections and rheumatic heart disease, Professor Jonathan Carapetis from UWA won the Professions Award, sponsored by HBF Health.

Also the executive director of the Telethon Kids Institute and president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, he is instrumental in the recruitment of more women, trans and Aboriginal researchers at the institutes. 

“Above all, be driven by what’s important to you and your values. Take your time and do the things that strike you in the heart. It doesn’t matter about the money, it’s about what makes you feel great.” he said.

Sport Award

The Sport Award, sponsored by Channel 7, was won by Murray McHenry due to his lifelong contribution to the administration of the West Coast Eagles. Besides being the chair of the WA Football Commission until 2019, he also has a family winery in Margaret River and helps run a hospitality supply business.

“The West Coast Eagles are a massive icon in our state. For me I was there day one and to see where it is today, it just means a lot for those involved,” Mr McHenry said about his award.

Youth Award

CEO and co-founder of Blue Tree Project, Kendall Whyte, won the Youth Award sponsored by BHP for her initiative to raise awareness about mental wellbeing and help reduce the stigma around it.

The social movement to paint trees blue was born out of tragedy after she lost her brother to suicide. The inspiration was a prank her brother had once played on his father, sneaking onto the family farm to paint a dead tree blue. With 612 trees now painted blue across Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Britain and the US, they serve as visual reminders for people to check in with their mental health.

“It’s a very bitter sweet moment. I will use this opportunity to spread our mission further. We have lots of exciting things to come, it’s amazing.” Ms Whyte said.

Heartiest congratulations from Team DUG to all the winners and finalists. Continue making WA proud!


By Mitchell Lim

Mitchell Lim is the latest addition to DUG’s science communication department. Currently completing his PhD in Chemical Engineering, Mitch is an expert in the fields of catalysis and ultrasonics. Full-time science geek, part-time fitness junkie, Mitch is living proof that brains and brawn are not mutually exclusive. His mission is to make science more accessible to you, while dreaming of having access to Martian land someday.