The next Australian of the Year should enjoy the honour and not feel compelled to become a crusader for a cause, says outgoing recipient Geoffrey Rush.
The acclaimed actor said there was too much pressure on those who receive the accolade to put it to active use.
"They're being honoured for what they've done, not what they have to do, and they should really respect that," he said.
"The media does tend to force it, and always ask: 'What are you going to do with it?'"
He said past recipients such as pop group The Seekers were right to accept the award as recognition for their musicianship, without feeling obliged to use it as a campaign platform.
But he acknowledged those who chose to capitalise on the profile afforded by the award, such as mental health advocate Professor Patrick McGorry, should feel free to do so.
Reflecting on his year in the role, Mr Rush said it was an honour to bring greater recognition to the Australian arts community.
"It's been amazing. The arts never get that kind of attention," he said.
"I'm one of two people who've been acknowledged for stage and screen work, that being Robert Helpmann and myself, and then for screen work it's Paul Hogan.
"And that's it."