Celebrating more than 30 great years, the NSW Australia Day Ambassador program has grown from strength to strength with more than 100 remarkable Australians volunteering to participate in Australia Day 2021 activities around the state.
Despite the pandemic, many of the Australia Day Ambassadors will continue to celebrate Australia Day in local communities across the state in COVID-Safe ways. Others will, for the first time, connect with their host communities virtually for Australia Day events, showing their commitment to the program.
The program started with just nine Ambassadors in 1990, following the hugely successful 1988 bicentenary celebrations. The original Ambassadors included Australian heart-transplant recipient Fiona Coote; pioneering Australian aviator, the late Nancy Bird Walton AO OBE; rock 'n roll singer Col Joye AM; and former Australian cricketer Alan Davidson AM MBE. The program still attracts Australians of the highest calibre every year.
From Olympians and actors, inventors and entertainers, to humanitarians and local heroes - the 2021 NSW Australia Day Ambassadors come from all walks of life and will stand alongside the community on our national day, virtually or in person, following Health advice.
Since its inception more than 30 years ago, more than 900 individuals have participated as Ambassadors, with some remaining Ambassadors for many years - a testament to their passion for being involved. The program has also expanded to a national level.
Each Australia Day, these extraordinary people travel across NSW to diverse communities, from remote country towns to cities and along the coast to deliver poignant addresses that capture the true spirit of our nation, and to listen to the stories from people in the region.
Together, Ambassadors share the common goal of banding together in solidarity, sharing stories of optimism and showing support to communities across the state.
This year's mix includes long-time Ambassadors such as humanitarian and former Socceroo Craig Foster; marathon swimmer Susie Maroney OAM; and entertainer Maria Venuti.
Ambassador to the Nambucca Valley
The Nambucca Valley is lucky to have been nominated Ms Sophie Smith as our 2021 Australia Day Ambassador.
After losing all three of their prematurely-born triplets within two months of birth, Sophie and husband Ash decided to give back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women, who had cared for their boys.
They began training for the 2007 SMH Half-Marathon with the goal of raising $20,000 and providing the hospital with one new humidicrib. With their team 'Running for Premature Babies', 98 runners raised $80,000.
3000 people have now run on their team, the largest in the SMH Half-Marathon, celebrating prematurely born children, living and lost, and raising over $3 million for life-saving neonatal equipment and research, directly benefitting over 5000 premature babies and their families.
Tragically, Ash lost his battle with brain cancer in 2016, leaving Sophie to raise their two young sons. Despite this heartbreak, she has grown the Foundation to support more Neonatal Intensive Care Units to give premature babies a better chance of survival and written "Sophie's Boys", donating the profits back to the foundation.