Body image teacher Australian of the Year

Australian writer and film director Taryn Brumfitt is determined to help others love the skin they're in, convinced that people weren't born hating their own bodies.

"This is something the world has taught us. Body shaming is a universal problem and we have been bullied and shamed into thinking our bodies are the problem," she said on Wednesday night.

"It is not our life's purpose to be at war with our body."

The documentary maker was named 2023 Australian of the Year for her work on body positivity, which stemmed from her 2016 film Embrace.

Her work has since been seen in almost 200 countries and watched by millions of people on Netflix.

She has released a companion documentary, Embrace Kids, that targets children aged between nine and 14-years-old.

Brumfitt has also teamed up with experts to create a companion parenting book and free research hub.

Accepting the award at a ceremony in Canberra, Brumfitt said it was critical to address body-image issues among young people.

"We're facing a paediatric health emergency with rates of suicide, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and steroid use related to body dissatisfaction soaring," she said.

"It is not our bodies that need to change, it is our perspective."

The director said she was optimistic that kids growing up would be able to learn to grow without the shame of their bodies.

"This is not about encouraging obesity, this is not what I do, and this issue is not simply about weight or size, it's about the way that we feel about all of ourselves," she said.

"When you take your final breath on this earth, what thoughts will be going through your mind? What will you be thinking about? And no one has ever said to me the size of their bum."

National Australia Day Council chair Danielle Roche said Brumfitt's work had sparked powerful change on a personal level for many Australians and people around the world.

"Taryn has inspired millions of women around the world to be comfortable in their own skin," Ms Roche said.

Brumfitt received the honour at a ceremony in Canberra on Wednesday night.

Indigenous human rights advocate Tom Calma was named Senior Australian of the Year, while Socceroos star and refugee advocate Awer Mabil was announced as Young Australian of the Year.

Local Hero for 2023 went to Turbans 4 Australia founder Amar Singh.

"Individually brilliant, Taryn, Tom, Awer and Amar share a common bond - using their life experience as a power for good, helping others around them and making the world a better place," Ms Roche said.

"These are an extraordinary group of Australians of whom we can all be incredibly proud."