Mills named ACT Australian of the Year

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Basketball champion Patty Mills' on-court exploits will be "nothing" compared to what he achieves in life away from the sport, according to women's rugby league pioneer Katrina Fanning.

That came as Mills was named ACT Australian of the Year after leading the Boomers to a breakthrough bronze medal at this year's Tokyo Olympics and for his Indigenous rights advocacy.

The NBA champion and Boomers captain beat out a hot field to claim the honour at today's ceremony at the National Gallery of Australia, recognised for using his platform as an Indigenous rights advocate and creating pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths.

Mills, 33, was honoured for his work with the Team Mills Foundation, which champions culture, diversity and underprivileged families.

Fanning, who has known Mills since he about seven, accepted the award on his behalf with Mills in America for the NBA season.

"It's wonderful that he's been recognised for that and I think this award helps the rest of Australia understand what Patty does is just not on the court," she said.

"What Australia thinks Patty has achieved on the basketball court is probably nothing compared to what he's going to achieve in the rest of his life, because he's just an amazing person."

Long-serving St John Ambulance volunteer Valmai Dempsey was named ACT Senior Australian of the Year for her efforts responding to the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

CanTeen youth leader Sean Dondas picked up ACT Young Australian of the Year, having spent 13 years providing support for families battling with a cancer diagnosis.

And the ACT Local Hero is Woden School youth worker Luke Ferguson, having through his work helped empower people with disabilities to engage with the community and achieve goals, particularly via music.

The four winners will now head to the national awards which will be announced on January 25.


ACT Australian of the Year - Patrick Mills

ACT Senior Australian of the Year - Valmai Dempsey

ACT Young Australian of the Year - Sean Dondas

ACT Local Hero - Luke Ferguson

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