Open a world of new ideas
To dare means to exceed your potential – to be more than you thought was possible. Whether it’s the pursuit of knowledge, an itch for inspiration, or a never-ending desire to break barriers, DARE magazine is your first step to a world of new ideas.
Get the latest take on trending issues, smart tips to boost your financial goals, or a fresh way to indulge in everyday joys, all from the comfort of your favourite reading spot. DARE also features exclusive stories from some of Australia’s favourite personalities.
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Stories that go beyond the page
DARE is the magazine for more than just readers. It’s your bi-monthly reminder to connect, explore, and indulge in the journey you’re on. Don’t just read it – DARE it.
What's new and trending? We present snippets of the latest products, news and research, all designed to inspire, excite and improve your life.
Go beyond the normal and into the new. Discover the world, and yourself, with travel tips, career pathways, emerging technology and more.
Life is easier when it goes as planned. We tackle the daring questions to help you carve the way to success.
We’ll show you how to make the things you love even better or help you find your new favourite pastime.
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Find a job online
Whether you’re re-entering the workforce or just looking for a change, there’s a wealth of apps and websites to help you land your dream job. Here’s DARE’s guide to the best digital resources for over 50s jobseekers.
Be aware of screening
Sydney-based career coach Jane Jackson says it’s vital to understand how technology factors into your job search, from the moment you press send on your CV.
“Most online job applications are initially screened by a recruitment scanning system such as Taleo or TurboRecruit,” says Jane.
“Understanding how the system parses each application will help jobseekers to tailor their applications closely to the requirements of the role and increase their chances of being screened in.
“One helpful tool is jobscan.co, which gives job seekers an instant analysis of how well their résumé is tailored for a particular job.
What you want is to be an 80%+ match for the role you are targeting for a greater chance of getting a call back.”
Highlight your experience
Don’t downplay your experience or waste your time applying for junior roles. “As a jobseeker over 50, you will have gained a wealth of experience and wisdom which will enable you to be a mentor to younger employees,” says Jane.
“Also, a qualified mature age worker will be able to hit the ground running faster and require less initial training and supervision.”
The olderworkers.com.au and seekingseniors.com.au jobs boards aim to connect mature jobseekers with age-friendly employers who value experience. Both also provide cover letter and résumé templates, along with job search tips.
With more than 800 million members globally, LinkedIn is still the go-to for networking and new job opportunities. “You must create a strong profile on LinkedIn.com and get active connecting with people in your desired industry and target organisations,” advises Jane.
SEEK (seek.com.au) is the largest dedicated Australian jobsite, and it also allows you to create a personal profile to connect you with employers. Be aware, the online space is no place for shrinking violets – it’s all about self-promotion.
“Many mature age professionals are reluctant to use digital media to promote themselves,” says Jane. “It’s important to project the right brand online. Think about the message you want to get across online to attract the opportunities you desire.”
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Art of drinking mindfully
Can you reset your relationship with alcohol, without abstaining altogether? DARE talks to the experts about adopting healthier drinking habits.
It's dry July – The annual appeal that challenges Australians to change their drinking habits for a month and raise money for people affected by cancer. There’s good reason for us to embrace mocktails over mojitos, with research published in the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Review in 2022 showing around 21% of women between 45 and 60 are now at ‘binge-drinking’ levels. But is abstinence the way forward? Or should we be thinking more about moderation? Here’s how we can build a better relationship with booze.
What does drinking ‘mindfully’ mean? “It’s exactly what it sounds like: the opposite of mindless drinking,” says Rosamund Dean, author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life (Hachette, 2020).
“You know, when you throw back a glass of cheap white wine at a work event, or open the bottle as soon as the kids are in bed. It’s the habitual drinking that you don’t even enjoy because it’s happening so mindlessly. Mindful drinking is not only about drinking less, but also about drinking better.”
Drinking mindfully can be a powerful tool. “Find what works for you, but I have rules that really work for me,” says Rosamund. “They are: I don’t drink on more than three days in a week, I never have more than three Discover the art of drinks in one go, I never drink to deal with negative emotions, I never drink alone. These rules ensure that drinking is a rare, celebratory thing in my life.”
Be honest with yourself and set clear goals. “Write down a behaviour change goal, such as only drinking twice a week or cutting back from four to two standard drinks on a drinking day,” says Dr Sally Hunt, a clinical psychologist and mental health researcher at the University of Newcastle. “Then put in place some strategies to help you achieve that change. For example, avoiding high-risk drinking situations, replacing every second drink with water or simply buying less alcohol.”
Identify your triggers
“Every time you over-drink, you can identify a trigger,” says Rosamund. “This is why I encourage people not to be hard on themselves if they drink more than they plan to. Use it as a learning experience, to work out what triggered that event, and then you can grow from that.”
There are three common motivators for alcohol consumption, says Dr Hunt. “People drink for social reasons, to enhance an already good time, and/or to cope with unpleasant feelings or situations. Women in particular are coping with a unique set of stressors in recent years with COVID-19, and alcohol use may be part of an attempt to manage those stressors.”
Save our smiles
Good dental health impacts every aspect of our lives and as part of Dental Health Week in August, we’re being urged to “love our teeth”. Here, some of the top experts at the Australian Dental Association (ADA) share their insights into the best and safest ways to look after them, the latest advances you need to know about, and how much each treatment costs.
Dental implants look like a screw and form part of the procedure to replace a missing tooth. They are surgically placed into the jaw where the missing tooth’s roots were and, over time, bone grows around the implant to help hold it in place. An artificial tooth or bridge is then attached to the implant.
If you have a gap in your teeth, implants can be a life-changing option, says Dr Scott Davis, ADA spokesperson and a NSW prosthodontist (a specialist in tooth reconstruction and replacement). A dentist will advise on the best solution, taking into account health, age and other variables. There is also an alternative called All-on-4, which is an option for those without much jawbone and promotes four implants to replace 10 or 12 teeth. However, says Dr Davis: “It is still somewhat controversial as if one of the implants fails the whole bridge could fail. I personally prefer to place five or six implants to restore an entire jaw.”
You might think braces are for teenagers, but orthodontist Dr Shane Fryer from Wollongong, NSW, has patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s. “It’s never too late to see an orthodontist,” he says. Although Dr Fryer’s older patients do have braces fitted for aesthetic reasons, often they’re for functional concerns.
“Our teeth move throughout our lives, it’s part of the ageing process like going grey or getting wrinkles, so recently I put lower braces on a 72-year-old gentleman because his teeth had drifted and he was getting trauma from biting his bottom lip,” he says.
Although teeth move more slowly with braces as we age, Dr Fryer says that what adults lose with this, they pick up with discipline, as they are more diligent about following instructions on braces care. This means the overall treatment time is about the same.
Pick a red carpet, any red carpet, and if Dame Helen Mirren is on it, she’ll probably be best-dressed. Despite the fact that most premieres and awards shows are populated by a fair number of impeccably styled 20 and 30-something starlets, the actress, 77 in July, always seems to come out on top. She is elegant, without doubt, but with every look there’s an edge or interesting spin that prevents it from looking twee, too. Studded biker boots with a floral dress (on a TV chat show), or a padded headband with a princessy pink Prada dress, which she wore to collect a Lifetime Achievement award at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards (“I don’t like to say the word ‘SAG’ at my age,” she joked in her acceptance speech).
She doesn’t just look good for her age, she looks good full stop – but part of the appeal is that she’s not trying to hide it. Her hair is a silvery white, like many women of her vintage, and her skin hasn’t been ironed into a vague approximation of her younger self.
The secret to her success is in how she has jettisoned the traditional ‘rules’ of how one is expected to dress, style their hair, or wear make-up in their 70s. She’ll wear her hair loose, or in a ponytail, for example. She’ll make a statement with a smoky eye or lip colour. She’ll show a little décolletage if the look calls for it. Helen has mastered the art of breaking the rules just enough. The best thing though? She makes it look easy. But despite the effortless attitude, some work goes into achieving this, and Dame Helen has one of the best glam squads in the business.
A seismic shift
Has COVID-19 made you rethink retirement in this ‘new normal’? You’re not alone. New research reveals the mindshift that’s challenging our preconceptions. When Joanna Johnston, 60, bought her new Sydney flat, she opened the windows overlooking the beach and announced: “I’ve got 20 more good summers.” Friends were taken aback but, she explained, she was planning for 20 more years in which to embrace all the fun and adventures she wanted.
She didn’t expect her later years to be miserable, but neither did she expect to spend them on the ski slopes. COVID-19 had demonstrated that she could survive by working only one day a week, and reminded her of the importance of friends and family. In what Jane Fonda has described as “the third act of life”, Joanna was determined to make the most of every moment.
The seismic shift of COVID has impacted the outlook of many like Joanna, according to The Quality of Life 2022 Report, which surveyed more than 5,000 Australians aged over 50 to understand their definition of a happy, secure, fulfilled life and discover how and what they’re planning for the years ahead in this ‘new normal’
Many had travel dreams smashed during the pandemic, while others were hit with the realisation they were now vulnerable when it came to health. The impact of social isolation, meanwhile, meant 43% put a higher priority on spending time with loved ones.
Is your pet well nourished?
With the human wellness market booming, it’s not surprising we’re also seeking products to improve the health, nutrition and fitness of our animals.
Firmly regarded as members of the family – even dubbed ‘fur babies’ – our pets bring so much love and joy to our lives that it’s logical we would want to provide them with the very best care we can. Just as balanced nutrition and regular exercise contributes greatly to our wellness, the same goes for our pets’ prolonged good health. There has been a substantial boom in pet ownership in Australia, and according to the Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) Pets and the Pandemic research, 69% of households now own a pet, up from 61% in just two years. This has been led by a surge in dog ownership, with more than a million additional dogs brought into Australian households since 2019. On average, pet owners are spending $3,200 per dog and $2,100 per cat each year, of which more than half is taken up by pet food. It adds up to more than $13 billion spent in Australia each year on cat and dog food alone. So yes, pet food is big business.
The increased sales of higher-quality products– including pet supplements – indicates how much we value our animals, but with hundreds of brands and types of pet foods to choose from, the options can be overwhelming. So, if good nutrition is the basis of happy, healthy animals – what constitutes a good diet for pets? Ben Stapley, executive director of the AMA, recommends consulting the experts, rather than relying on ‘Dr Google’. “Pet owners should visit their local vet if they need advice about feeding their pet. Obesity, diabetes and dental decay are increasing problems for many Australian pets, particularly senior cats and dogs, so expert advice is needed,” he says. “When bringing home a new pet, start well and continue as you mean to go on. Practising preventative health is the best thing you can do for your pets’ long-term health.”
According to the AMA research, the most common factors owners consider when making pet food purchases are food and taste preferences (fussy eaters), quality of ingredients, perceptions of price and value for money, and whether the food is nutritionally complete.
Registered animal nutritionist Shiva Greenhalgh from Sydney Animal Nutrition says a good diet for domestic animals is one that meets all their essential needs – amino acids, vitamins and minerals. “There are certain guidelines where an animal can derive certain things from their food, but then there needs to be some kind of supplementation,” says Shiva. “Essentially they need to have their macro and micro nutrients met.
“Good nutrition is important but the environment, enrichment and love from their owners are all significant factors in happy, healthy animals,” adds Shiva. “It’s all about trying to get a good balance nutritionally because too little of something can lead to certain issues and too much of something can lead to issues as well.”
This is general information only and you should consult your vet regarding individual pet requirements.
How to hygge
As the weather cools (even in our tropical climates), there comes the desire to hunker down. Although there is no direct translation, hygge is a Danish term that loosely means ‘cosiness’ and ‘comfort’. Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, it encompasses the Danish way of life with its emphasis on warmth, contentment, pleasure – and simple, calm and inviting decor. Scandinavian cook and author Signe Johansen explains in her book, How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, that it’s all about encouraging a daily dose of “healthy hedonism” and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. This can be anything from reading a good book, enjoying time with friends and family, or brewing some mulled wine on the stove. Here Kerrie-Ann Jones, an Australian interior stylist and co-host of interiors podcast House of Style, shares how she incorporates hygge into the home.
Master the right light
A few discreet sources of light are preferable to one big main light, so aim to create soothing pools of illumination. “Instead of having the overhead lights on, use floor and table lamps,” Kerrie- Ann tells DARE. “They create a beautiful ambience in the room that gives a sense of comfort.”
Burn a candle
Hygge is not complete without candles: there’s something about a flickering flame that sets a comforting tone. Kerrie- Ann’s candle of choice is Maison Balzac’s Miel D’Hiver. “It has a lovely scent of wintery flowers and cedar leaf that evoke a feeling of warmth near a fire.”
Bring nature inside
Nature can boost your wellbeing in wonderful ways, both physically and mentally, so add some greenery and touches of natural hues and wood to your home. “Indoor plants are a must to keep the air purified during winter,” says Kerrie-Ann. “I also love to buy winter blooms such as anemone, sweet peas and tulips.”
It's all about texture
Sheepskins and soft shaggy throws can be draped over chairs, beds or used as rugs on wooden floors to provide extra warmth underfoot – it’s all about that sensory pleasure.
“There is nothing better than snuggling under the warmth of a thick textured throw,” says Kerrie-Ann. “I also add extra layers on my bed, such as flannelette sheets.”
Make it meaningful
Clutter and hoarding is antithetical to hygge, and while it’s not necessary to go ‘Marie Kondo’ and minimalistic, everything you add to your hygge home should be both functional and something you love. Enjoy meaningful moments with your loved ones, too. “I picture my family and I snuggling up on the sofa in the evening in front of our fireplace, wrapped up under a throw, with a cup of tea or better still, a glass of wine!” says Kerrie-Ann.
Dr Mark Wenitong, 64
With a career path that has taken him from a working reggae musician, touring with his wife and family, to a pre-eminent Indigenous health campaigner and doctor, today Dr Wenitong not only serves as a medical expert to his Far North Queensland community, but gives talks on preventative health, works with ice addicts and regularly visits prisons, refugee centres and remote communities. A descendant of the Kabi Kabi people of Queensland, he founded the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and spends time encouraging young Indigenous students to train in medicine.
His biggest inspiration was his mother, Lealon, who fought prejudice to train as a health worker in the 1950s while single-handedly bringing up six children.
He might have remained a performer and pathology technician had he not visited Indigenous communities in Cape York and witnessed first-hand the appalling conditions people lived under. When he qualified as a doctor in 1995, he was one of the first Aboriginal men to do so, and has worked tirelessly ever since to improve people’s lives.
“I’d really like to see the health system learn from Indigenous approaches to health, which are much more wellness-focused,” he tells DARE. “Currently it’s very much a ‘blame the victim’ type approach.”
Beverley Shuker, 69
Before Beverley put her hand up to help form a volunteer bushfire brigade in Darwin River, Northern Territory, residents were battling blazes alone – especially in highly inflammable spear grass.
Bev and her fellow volunteers started with nothing but a bit of guidance. “We had no training or specialised equipment,” she tells DARE. In the 40 years since she’s seen great improvements, the one constant being her own involvement. That includes fighting fires, driving trucks and being secretary and treasurer.
“I recently stepped down as treasurer but I still do fundraising and admin. The active fire fighters need a support group.”
For 20 years, Bev has also been a native wildlife carer for Wildcare Inc, rehabilitating and releasing hundreds of animals onto her property, which backs on to Litchfield National Park. Very little joeys can need 24-hour care but, she laughs, “They’re quite easy really, they don’t cry like babies!”
Bev loves volunteering and in 2019 she was surprised to be awarded NT Volunteer of the Year. “You don’t do it for the accolades but when they come it’s a wonderful feeling,” she says. “It’s a wonderful feeling to give to a community and you get more back than you give in terms of camaraderie and respect.”
Betty Taylor, 73
Many women are alive and thriving today because of the work of Betty, who drives initiatives to prevent domestic violence in all its forms – from death and injury to stalking and objectification. Since becoming founding manager of the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre 30 years ago, Betty has served on countless boards and ministerial councils and is CEO of the Red Rose Foundation, which works to prevent domestic violence-related deaths.
Although she agrees it sounds traumatic, one of her proudest achievements was establishing the Domestic Violence Death Review Board. “From that we’re learning so much about preventing the extreme end of domestic violence and can see how those deaths are predictable and preventable,” she tells DARE.
Betty’s also proud of the assistance she’s provided for older women. “There are all sorts of issues going on for them. Some suffer years in an abusive relationship, others may be bereaved then begin a new relationship where they lose control of finances, their home and become victims of violence.”
It can be challenging but Betty looks for the hope. A project to paint park benches all over Australia red with a plaque reading Let’s change the ending has sparked community initiatives about domestic violence. “If you find your passion, it’s not hard work,” she says.
Mary Hanna, 67
Having represented Australia at a record-breaking six Olympic Games and five World Equestrian Games, dressage rider Mary is an icon of her sport. Making her debut at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Mary has her sights firmly set on the Paris Olympics in 2024, where she will compete as a 69-year-old.
Age is just a number for Mary, who was the oldest competitor at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. “I’ve been doing this for so long now. Riding’s one of those amazing sports where you can do it no matter what your age is, or your gender,” she says. “So as long as I feel fit enough to ride a horse, I’ll keep going. Because it’s what I love to do, it’s my life. It’s everything to me.”
Riding since the age of four, Mary fully committed to dressage in her 20s. “Dressage is an amazing sport, because it allows men and women to compete equally well,” she says. “It is wonderful to develop a partnership with a horse, with so much depending on that partnership.”
In 2018 Mary received the International Federation for Equestrian Sports’ prestigious accolade, the Gold Badge of Honour, and she was inducted into the Equestrian Victoria Hall of Fame.
Michael ‘Mick’ Brosnan, 72
Heading a successful construction company allowed Michael (known as Mick) to retire at 57 and devote his later years to fighting for the disadvantaged. “A community is made up of lots of different people and to help the community thrive, we’ve got to help people in need,” he tells DARE.
He was foremost in creating the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJA) in NSW, which started as a fundraising effort to help Somalian refugees. But a call from two local priests, who had people knocking at their door desperate for accommodation, kick-started a focus on his own patch, the Bega Valley Shire.
After setting up a crisis shelter, St James House in Merimbula, a friend donated three renovated caravans to help out. That’s when a small solution to a big problem crystalised. Mick started the search for cheap or donated caravans and formed relationships with service providers to house people across 80 refurbished vans. The bushfires of 2019-2020 only skyrocketed demand, when 400 homes were lost in the area.
As chair of SJA, Mick liaises with service providers like Mission Australia, delivering vans to be renovated, and towing them where they’re needed. “I believe that if one person is homeless, it’s a shame on our Shire,” he says.
Sister Christine Henry, 67
In 2007, farmers in south-west Queensland were crippled by the worst drought in living history and 40,000 contract workers were without employment. After hearing how they struggled to put food on the table and were questioning the value of staying on the land and even continuing to live, Sister Christine began a fundraising campaign.
Raised in a tiny Darling Downs community herself, she knew what was needed and provided food hampers, petrol vouchers and support with household bills.
Her Downs and West Community Support is still going and, as coordinator, Sister Christine, a registered nurse, has driven more than one million kilometres providing pastoral care. Her converted ambulance is packed with everything from toiletries to tyres, which she delivers to farmers in need. She also organises volunteers to help with cleaning and upkeep, and social events for families.
Her website is full of words of gratitude from those she visits. “How can we thank you enough?” they ask. “I’ve got so much more out of working with these people who are struggling than I have doing anything else in my life,” she says. “I’ll do it for a lot longer if I can.”
Professor Jon Olley, 60
The expert hydrologist’s work ranges from the environmental to the deeply personal. Professor Olley helped solve the mystery of missing teen Daniel Morcombe in 2011, painstaking work that saw him praised for his “outstanding commitment, intelligence, resourcefulness and dedication to duty.”
To find Daniel, who’d been missing eight years, Professor Olley spent two months at a craggy swampy site near Queensland’s Glass House Mountains. His observations of clues no-one else would have noted, such as an unusual tree root formation or layers of sediment, together with his understanding of river flow, meant police were able to find two shoes and three bones belonging to Daniel and finally convict his murderer.
He has recently assisted in the search for missing NSW toddler William Tyrrell.
Professor Olley’s other ground-breaking work includes using a single grain of sand to provide fascinating insights, such as helping date 40,000-year-old fossils of new extinct megafauna near Mackay.
The pioneering professor of water science at Griffith University, Queensland, also developed new methods to understand how our most essential river systems respond to changes in land use and climate. Hugely concerned about environmental degradation, he says: “I’m very passionate about river restoration. A lot of my work is focused on that.”
Jane Edmanson, 71
The ‘other’ face of Gardening Australia for more than 30 years, Jane was raised on a citrus farm on the Victoria/NSW border, and the much-loved horticulturalist, author, TV and radio personality says her inspiration to keep gardening comes from wide connections.
“My mother and father had a great interest in gardening and growing plants. I think of their pride in their citrus farm and large garden,” Jane tells DARE. “I’m also inspired by the gardeners I meet when filming for Gardening Australia, they are so passionate and sharing of their knowledge.”
Jane gives back in return. “Gardening and its rewards are to be shared, so it’s good to give away ‘bits and bobs’ from my garden – my fragrant leaves of peppermint pelargoniums have gone far and wide!”
As the only Gardening Australia presenter remaining since the show began in 1990, Jane loves her work. “I’ve always said you shouldn’t continue in a job that becomes boring. I can honestly say I am never bored! It’s wonderful to keep meeting people in the horticulture industry and home gardeners who have lived their lives surrounded by plants,” says Jane, who as ambassador of Cystic Fibrosis Victoria, created its Cystic Fibrosis Rose Collection. “It doesn’t seem like 30-plus years as I’ve loved every minute. How fortunate.”
Ray Kelly, 52
Proud Gomeroi man and leading health professional Ray has more than 30 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry – a career that has included the launch in NSW of Too Deadly for Diabetes, a 10-week lifestyle program that targets Indigenous people living with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Currently finishing his PhD at the University of Technology Sydney with a focus on type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities, and implementing his lifestyle program into medical centres, Ray is passionate about helping all Australians change their lives through healthy eating and exercise. “When you see people come in with little hope and within weeks they’ve seen a massive turnaround in their health, it’s hard not to be excited,” he tells DARE. “People have more energy, are taking fewer medications and feel the best they have in years. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that researchers have shown is both preventable and reversible.”
Ray believes the contribution of older health and fitness professionals is vital. “We have life experience and no matter what area you work in, there’s no substitute for that. It provides context. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve learned from them.”
Pastor David Shrimpton, 57
The bush can be a lonely place, says flying padre David – and every day he climbs into his plane or car to alleviate that. His flying career began when, in 1998, he saw a sign: Learn to fly for $2,000.
He did it to fulfil a childhood dream, so was delighted to be asked to put his new skills to use and become flying padre for the Salvation Army in the Northern Territory.
He spent 11 years offering pastoral care to those who felt forgotten and isolated there before moving on to do the same for the Uniting Church in Broken Hill, NSW.
“I do weddings, funerals, christenings, all those religious services and then it’s about touching base with people, building relationships and being aware of resources so you can be an ongoing support if needed,” he tells DARE. “People talk to me about all sorts of things. I might stay an hour or I might stay a day. It doesn’t matter if they’re not spiritual. Some want to discuss faith issues but with others it’s just that sense of chaplaincy.”
The pastor also visits tiny community schools for special scripture lessons – and a kickabout in the yard afterwards. “It’s very rewarding being part of people’s lives,” he says.
Annie Fogarty, 61
It’s no small feat to set out with a mission to improve the education of an entire state, but that hasn’t stopped Annie. Founder of the philanthropic Fogarty Foundation in 2000 (along with husband Brett), its aim is to support and provide educational and leadership opportunities for young people across Western Australia. “The jobs of the future are going to be knowledge-based, and for the future prosperity of everyone, we need to be improving our education,” Annie tells DARE.
The 2020 WA Australian of the Year recognises the opportunities education opens up and wants to make an impact for those less fortunate. The ripple effect, depicted in the foundation’s logo, is at the heart of her work – creating greater outcomes with long-term impact, and particularly raising Australia’s declining rates of academic performance. “Our 15-year-olds now are about 18 months behind in reading, maths, and science than they were 20 years ago,” says Annie. “We’re not going to make those changes until we get it out there and say, we have a problem, and we need to change it.”
And this starts with hope. “One of the things we need to do is raise our aspirations – the aspirations of our students, and the parents for their children, and for the teachers to achieve well.”
Peter Stutchbury, 67
The award-winning architect is considered a seminal figure in his field, establishing a synergy between buildings and their settings to produce innovative, environmentally friendly structures. “Architecture is both refinement and invention,” Peter tells DARE, adding: “You need to be serious about looking at a place and feeling a place to do sensible and responsible building.”
Awarded the Gold Medal in 2015 by the Australian Institute of Architects (its highest honour), Peter’s work has always been about trying to understand the climate. “Just as the landscape changes, your buildings must change,” he explains.
This site-sensitive design approach is something he has passed down through his leadership and community activities. As well as lecturing at the University of Newcastle for 20 years, Peter co-founded Architecture Foundation Australia, an organisation that has educated architects and students from around the world.
As for what he considers as most important for the future of Australian architecture, Peter maintains that we need to be “absolutely climate conscious”. “Like all architecture across the world, we need to design for life spans. And that requires fresh thinking every time,” he says. “Using all the old tools, but rejigging them and recalibrating them for every project. And that’s a wonderful challenge.”
Dina Petrakis, 60
Applying for asylum in Australia is often a stressful, drawn-out process, and, even if you’re successful, the journey to a safe, new life is far from over. Building a career in an unfamiliar country where refugees are often stigmatised is fraught with difficulties.
That’s where Dina comes in. Since 2013, the former teacher’s not-for-profit venture, Ignite Small Business Start-ups, has helped entrepreneurial refugees build businesses through coaching, advocacy and one-on-one mentoring.
“Refugees and asylum seekers have amazing resilience and we harness that passion into their entrepreneurial ventures,” she tells DARE from her Sydney office. “They’ve overcome immense challenges and we want to enable them even more.”
Nearly half the people she helps as global manager of Ignite are over 50 and many had to leave behind successful businesses when they fled persecution. Ironically, she loves the moment when her clients leave.
“Seeing them exit our program gives me the greatest joy because it means their business is trading. They have navigated the complexities of a foreign business environment and are economically independent.”
The operation has recently expanded to cover Logan in Queensland as well as Coffs Harbour and Armidale in NSW and even Vancouver, Canada. “Where there’s passion, there’s possibility!” she says.
Andrew Denton, 61
Veteran TV presenter Andrew founded Go Gentle Australia in 2016 to advocate for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Australia. He has campaigned tirelessly to introduce compassionate laws and in 2021 was recognised for his efforts as NSW nominee for Australian of the Year.
“I saw someone I love die badly in 1997,” says Andrew. “My dad, Kit. Watching him die remains the most profoundly shocking experience of my life. He was 67, and though clearly dying of heart failure, and obviously in great pain, Dad was assisted to die in the only way that Australia’s law then would allow: he was given ever-increasing doses of sedatives to settle the pain. But morphine never did settle the pain. The images of those final three days will never be erased.”
As the host of the Better Off Dead podcast, Andrew investigates the stories of why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia. “I wanted to inform the debate and I wanted to inflame the debate,” says Andrew, who has seen VAD laws now passed in most states, but wants all Australians to have access to them. “It’s become all-consuming in a way I’d never intended, and I think my family would like me to be less consumed.”
Rosie Batty, 60
After her only child, Luke, 11, was murdered by his estranged father at cricket training in Victoria in 2014, Rosie began campaigning for more protection for survivors and victims of family violence. She herself had suffered years of abuse and spoke out about the struggles she’d endured to protect herself and her son.
Rosie had secured a court order banning any contact after Luke’s father, who had a long history of violence, had pulled a knife on Luke in a previous incident. But later, a judge overruled the decision so he could see the boy when he was playing sport. Just months later, Luke was dead.
Channelling her grief to be a force for change, she told the coroner’s inquest: “What we want is to make sure people don’t go through what I’m going through.”
Today, she tells DARE: “What makes me most proud is that, within a few months of Luke’s death, I met with the leader of the opposition, Daniel Andrews, who promised that, should they win the election, they’d have a Royal Commission into Family Violence. He kept his promise and committed to all 227 recommendations and $1.9 billion to fund the reforms. They’ve been significant, although there’s still significant work ahead.”
Sam Mostyn, 56
For highly successful businesswoman Sam, the first female appointed to the AFL Commission, current president of the advocacy group Chief Executive Women and chair of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), kindness is at the heart of everything she does. “My guiding light around what you do is always around contribution – making good choices and never wasting or squandering privilege and ability. That’s the starting story,” she says.
With a long history of executive and governance roles across business, sport, climate change, the arts, policy, and non-profit sectors, the leading cause on Sam’s agenda today is an inclusive economy and society that capitalises on Australia’s resources and talent, especially when it comes to women.
“It is the human and social infrastructure of the care economy, one that is powered by women who are often underpaid, if they’re paid at all,” says Sam. She believes that women have been an “under-celebrated part of our luck” when it comes to bearing most of the unpaid work throughout the pandemic.
“We are lucky to have benefited from that for so long. But we cannot rely on it forever,” says Sam. “We need wholesale immediate change.”
Professor Tim Flannery, 66
One of Australia’s most famous and influential environmentalists, Professor Flannery was among the first people to warn the world about the dangers of climate change. An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, conservationist and writer on climate change, he was named Australian of the Year in 2007 and has used his high profile to explain the issue to the public.
The author of award-winning international bestsellers including The Weather Makers and Here on Earth, the professor has also written and presented several series for the Documentary Channel. Sir David Attenborough once described him as being “in the league of the all-time great explorers like Dr David Livingstone”.
He is currently chief councillor of the Climate Council, “advising on how to deal with the challenges we face; growing new champions of activism, influencing the people who can make change to do so.” He also works to protect remaining rainforests and biodiversity in places like Melanesia, the Solomons and Papua New Guinea.
The professor remains cautiously optimistic about turning the tide of global warming. “We do still have time to get on top of climate change, but we have to move quickly. Let’s develop great new policies, embracing clean energy and protecting what we still have. It’s not too late, but we must act.”
Andrea Mason, 55
A Ngaanyatjarra and Karonie Australian woman from Western Australia, Andrea is known as a visionary leader in policy making, social reform, regional development and advocacy. She is currently the only First Nations commissioner on the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. “Listening to people with disabilities, their families, support networks, advocates and others about their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation is important and potentially life-altering work, because the Disability Royal Commission is a powerful agent for change,” Andrea tells DARE. “Listening to people and then taking action is what I am most proud of in my professional life.”
Previously, Andrea was CEO of NPY Women's Council, working with the women of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) region in central Australia, and co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council. “We know that when women are in the room where decisions are being made, those decisions and outcomes are often better for the organisation and the community and the country,” she says.
She believes there should be more older women in leadership roles. “For many women in their 50s and older, like me, they have resolved many of life’s challenges and they choose character and significance often over prominence and dominance.”
Neil Balnaves, 77
The TV executive gave away more than $30 million since founding The Balnaves Foundation in 2006 after a near-death boating accident on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The accident left Neil, then executive chairman of Southern Star Television, which he founded in 1988 – responsible for bringing shows like Blue Heelers, Water Rats, The Secret Life of Us and Big Brother to Australian screens – in hospital for many weeks. Tragically, shortly after this list was compiled, Neil was killed aged 77 in a boating accident while holidaying in Tahiti.
Seeing his wealth as a responsibility, Neil pledged to spend 70% on philanthropy. For more than 15 years the foundation supported a diverse range of organisations with the aim to create a better country through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous projects.
Recently, as principal patron of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) First Nations Program, the foundation donated $530,000 to enable NIDA to welcome more First Nations students and support them through their study of performing arts.
“I really believe the arts is the soul of the country,” Neil said. “What defines Australia is its culture. If we have a vibrant arts world – whether it’s theatre, playing music, reading books at the library – whatever it is, it opens up the soul.”
Stan Grant, 58
As a voice for Indigenous people, Stan’s powerful speeches have touched hearts and minds, while The Australian Dream, the award-winning documentary film he wrote about AFL player Adam Goodes, shone a light on the racism that lurked in our society.
A proud Wiradjuri man, Stan is one of the country’s most respected journalists, presenting news, current affairs and broadcast radio for more than 30 years, much of it as an international correspondent, and writing six books. He says when he entered journalism, he was navigating a world that was not designed for him. “There was no other Indigenous person in the press gallery. There was no other Indigenous person in the newsrooms. There was no-one I could look to who had trodden that path before me. I was very much alone,” he reflects.
Today, he is Vice Chancellor’s Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University, where he has the title of Professor. Stan’s role as a rotating host of ABC’s Q&A will also continue in 2022. “I want to be able to allow people to have that place to speak without judgement, to allow the strength of the argument and strength of the opinion,” he says.
Dermot O’Gorman, 55
Dermot has some advice for all of us who love our planet. “Create the future that you want to inherit now. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can bring around fundamental change, to make the world a better place.” He’s working towards that himself as CEO of WWF-Australia. Starting his career as a ranger in NSW, Dermot has run the country’s largest not-for-profit conservation organisation (previously World Wide Fund for Nature) since 2010 and has worked across five WWF branches globally.
These experiences have given Dermot the tools to push messages of conservation to governments and communities, and ultimately help build resilient ecosystems for a changing climate. “A constant theme of my work has been making local communities better stewards of their natural resources,” he says. “We’ve got to turn around the extinction crisis and we’ve got to rapidly transition to a zero carbon economy.”
It’s these challenges that continue to see him play an active role in transforming the way nature is managed – something that WWF’s $300 million wildlife and landscape regeneration program, Regenerate Australia, aims to do. “Sustainability is the issue of this century. I’m incredibly fortunate to play a small role in that and to try to make a difference,” he says.
Mary Earnshaw, 64
Mary’s father built a life-size replica of a Tiger Moth in their Bunbury backyard in Western Australia for her brother, who dreamed of being a pilot. But it would be Mary who made that dream a reality, and fronted up to Bunbury Aero Club at the age of 20. “It was 1977 and women just didn’t learn to fly,” she tells DARE. “Back then women stayed home, had babies and learned to cook. I did none of the above. So, I started flying and it cost $26 an hour, which was 40% of my stenographer wage.”
Mary gained her Commercial Pilot’s Licence in 1982 before training as a flight instructor, becoming Perth’s Chief Flying Instructor in 1987 – the first female in Australia to hold the title. By the time she retired from flying, she had 20 years of experience and had inspired a new generation of women to fly. She is still mentoring, and last year took to the skies in a seaplane to celebrate International Women’s Day.
“What I love most about flying and my career is the people I taught to fly and the people I had the pleasure of working with,” she says. “All different characters with the same passion – flying!”
Dr Ray Shuey, 76
The award-winning campaigner served as a police officer for 41 years, including as Victoria’s assistant commissioner for traffic and operations. Arguably, he has been more active since his retirement in 2003, completing a PhD in international road safety and helping authorities throughout Asia introduce life-saving measures. Dr Shuey was Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year in 2020.
His concerns about road safety began aged seven when a classmate was knocked off her bike and killed. Years later, his newly-married brother and sister-in-law died in a head-on collision. His many initiatives, including a 50km/h speed limit in suburban areas, led directly to a huge reduction in deaths on Victorian roads. He also spearheaded a successful program to reduce fatal shootings by officers.
He tells DARE his proudest achievement has been the work he’s done in Cambodia and Vietnam. “I’ve seen the change from a mum, dad and young children on a motorbike without helmets, to most families wearing good quality helmets – a life-saving change in culture.”
He was awarded two royal medals in Cambodia for his incredible work. “By demonstrating what can be done in road safety, collectively we can make a difference to improve the lives and safety of our future generations,” he adds.
Professor Martin Green, 73
When the Australian engineer set up a research group at the University of NSW to explore solar power in the 1970s, the technology was so expensive that few thought it viable. But over the following decades, his groundbreaking work made him the world leader in solar and Professor Green has been dubbed the “Father of Modern Photovoltaics”.
Incredibly, his team has held the record for solar efficiency for 30 of the last 38 years and became the first to find a way to transform more than 20% of the sun’s energy received by a panel into electricity. He later upped the figure to a world-best 25%. One of his biggest achievements is the invention of PERC cells, now standard in solar panels and a major reason why they’re so much more affordable and more effective.
“The contribution I’m most proud of is the invention and development of PERC solar cells and the role my former students played in making cheap solar a reality,” he tells DARE.
He’s won multiple international awards, and just last year found a way to extend the life of solar panels by up to 50% by cooling them. “Solar embodies the long-standing hope of an abundant, inexpensive resource, providing an answer to critical environmental challenges,” he says.
Professor Peter Doherty, 81
As legendary octogenarians go, immunologist Professor Doherty has achieved more than most – and admits he did contemplate retirement at 79 when his last big grant was ending.
But then COVID-19 hit, and watching the frontline scientists under pressure at the eponymous Doherty Institute, he couldn’t walk away. Instead, he reinvented himself as a science commentator, sitting in on Institute meetings and writing a popular weekly column, Setting it Straight. These essays – “I like to call them sermons,” he jokes to DARE – explore all things infection and immunity and led to his seventh book, An Insider’s Plague Year, published in 2021.
“I describe myself as a junior journalist – it’s very obvious I’m not a trained journalist,” he says. “But it’s been interesting. I’ve learned enormous amounts and grappled with all areas of medicine; things I haven’t thought about for 50 years.”
Professor Doherty, a Nobel laureate, didn’t stop there; he also took to Twitter to talk to the vaccine hesitant, gathering more than 100,000 followers in the process.
“I’ve had some success, but I get a lot of abuse, too,” he says cheerily. “I just block anti-vaxxers now because interacting with people who are asking crazy questions just leads to your own intellectual decline.”
Professor Susan Kurrle, 69
Australia’s distinguished researcher into dementia, intergenerational living and improving aged care, Professor Kurrle of the University of Sydney is the senior geriatrician on ABC documentary series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, a heart-warming look at how the very young and very old interact when they spend time together. The social experiment involves a group of pre-schoolers spending time with elderly care home residents and demonstrates that it isn’t just the seniors who benefit – the children, too, show marked improvements in their developmental growth.
“I have grandchildren and I want them to value interactions with their elders,” Professor Kurrle tells DARE. “I’d love to see playgroups meeting in aged care facilities.”
Director of Rehabilitation and Aged Care at the Northern Sydney Local Health District, she has won prestigious awards for her groundbreaking work. “My proudest achievement was getting elder abuse onto the agenda at a medical level, as it wasn’t in our vocabulary at all in the early 1990s. And my greatest hope is governments and professional bodies work together to improve what is currently an appalling situation for many older people. I want to see us get this right before I need to avail myself of the services!”
Dr Cathy Foley, 64
Commencing her role as Australia’s Chief Scientist in 2021, Dr Foley is the nation’s most senior science and technology adviser. “What a fantastic opportunity to contribute on behalf of a sector that is so central to our response to the pandemic, to climate change and the energy challenge,” she tells DARE.
An engaging communicator, physicist Dr Foley is a strong advocate for gender equality and greater diversity in the science sector. She also highlights the need to keep women in STEM careers in later life. “We need to bring the full human potential to address our challenges, which includes encouraging women to stay in the workforce and supporting them as they go through different phases of life – early career, mid-career and child caring responsibilities, and through menopause. We should be supporting people to stay in the workforce for as long as they want by being flexible and responsive.”
Dr Foley provides advice to government through high-level committees such as the National Science and Technology Council and the Industry, Innovation and Science Australia board. “When I started, the government asked me to work to put science at the heart of government policy making, and that’s a wonderful thing, to know that the sector you work with is so valued.”
Shemara Wikramanayake, 60
One of only a handful of females heading Australia’s top 20 companies, Macquarie Group CEO Shemara is also one of a few Asian-Australian women to lead an ASX 200 company. Since she took over in 2018, Macquarie has enjoyed a period of sustained growth.
But she refuses to be defined by such pioneering achievements, saying she no longer sees herself as a “female CEO with brown skin”. She also shies away from taking credit for the bank’s recent success. “It’s not me sitting here like Mr Burns in The Simpsons making all the plans for the nuclear plant,” she says. “It’s 18,000 people empowered to go and achieve to their greatest potential.”
Her multi-million-dollar pay packet makes her one of the country’s highest earning executives, but she also finds time to give back to the community. “I do a lot of work helping kids who’ve come here as refugees on boats that have sunk, caught in the middle of fights, had to go into child detention,” she says. As a member of the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative, she’s also campaigning for a six-fold increase in private sector investment in sustainability projects.
Professor Ian Frazer, 69
The immunologist first gained worldwide attention in the early 1980s for his pioneering work into HIV and hepatitis B research. After establishing his own lab at the University of Queensland, he helped invent and patent the science behind a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV), the cause of nearly all cervical cancers – a vaccine many had deemed to be impossible.
Professor Frazer personally administered the first vaccine dose in 2006 and was named Australian of the Year the same year. “Australia was one of the first to adopt universal immunisation of school girls and young women, and also one of the first to add immunisation of school boys to the vaccine program,” he says. The country is now on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035.
Cervical cancer cases remain high in the world’s poorest countries, but it’s estimated a mass vaccine rollout here could save 62 million deaths across the next 100 years.
Professor Frazer continues to raise awareness and funds for medical research as chair of the Translational Research Institute Australia, advises the government as chair of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, and is involved in the development of a new drug to treat COVID-19. “It’s a complement to other treatments,” he says.
Lindy Lee, 68
With a career spanning more than four decades, Lindy is one of the most respected contemporary artists in Australia. Working across a range of disciplines including painting, sculpture and installation, her work blends the cultures of Australia, where she was born, and her ancestral China. With collections widely exhibited in Australia and overseas, her art has recently expanded into the public realm. “Public art provides a kind of space where people can have pause and reflection, some sort of quiet,” Lindy tells DARE.
She is currently working on Ouroboros, the National Gallery of Australia’s most expensive commissioned work to date ($14 million). The immersive public sculpture, of a snake eating its own tail, represents eternal return. “It’s an important symbol of regeneration and wisdom,” says Lindy. “I want [people] to feel some sort of wonder or connection to that which is greater than them.”
Lindy attributes her creativity to her constant curiosity. “I think that if you have the right attitude, and that is to be curious about everything, it keeps you playing, it keeps you alive, interested and engaged and in marvel,” says Lindy. “I could honestly say I’m just about ready to begin my life’s work. The last 40 years have just been an apprenticeship!”
Maggie Beer, 77
Now in her seventies, Maggie continues to use her culinary reputation as a guiding voice advocating for the importance of good food for older Australians. “The thing is, we can make a difference. If we can make food such a positive experience for pleasure and wellbeing, everything else works,” she tells DARE.
Through the Maggie Beer Foundation and its latest initiative, the Alliance of the Willing, Maggie is pushing for the improvement of food and nutrition in aged care. Bringing together experts from across the country, the next stage for the alliance “absolutely needs to be a collaborative approach,” says Maggie. “It’s a long way to go.” This means training cooks and chefs and working with management, peak bodies, government and health professionals to focus on what beautiful food can do for wellbeing. “The support is there, but we need a vehicle to garner it and to pull it together.”
It’s a complex and huge task, but Maggie has certainly started the vehicle’s engine. While her foundation has been running masterclasses since 2014 for aged care cooks (currently there is no specialised training), this year sees the launch of an online training program that Maggie hopes will go into about 2,000 care homes. “We’ve done 11 modules that a cook or chef can really take and make change from,” she says. “It’s full of knowledge, excitement and ideas, but also has tremendous learning references to take it further to support anything we’ve said. I’m so proud of them.”
As someone whose passion and purpose shines through everything she does, she recognises that pleasure plays a vital role. “Nutrition in itself is not enough. We must have the right nutrition. But if there is not pleasure, and sense of real food, then there’s no joy. And it’s such an important part of every day for residents in aged care. We must listen to the residents, to what they want.”
Magda Szubanski, 60
Finding fame playing comedy characters like Kath and Kim’s Sharon Strzelecki and Pixie-Anne Wheatley on sketch show Fast Forward, Magda is one of our most popular and well-loved comedians. She’s also a bestselling author – releasing a memoir, Reckoning, in 2015, largely about her father, Zbigniew Szubanski, a World War II Polish resistance assassin. The book also covers her struggles with her sexuality – she came out publicly in 2012.
She played a role campaigning for the Marriage Equality ‘yes’ vote and has gone on to work with numerous LGBTIQ groups, including as patron of Twenty10, a gay and lesbian counselling service, and an ambassador for the Pinnacle Foundation.
In 2020 she formed a friendship with Will ‘Egg Boy’ Connolly (so called because he cracked an egg on the head of far-right senator Fraser Anning), with whom she raised $190,000 for bushfire-affected communities and co-founded Regeneration, a creative arts project to provide mental health support.
Now, at 60, she’s coming into her own. “There is a certain comfort that comes with age,” she says. “It’s not as though you have life all figured out, because there is still a lot to learn. Once you have some life experience under your belt, though, you feel like you understand things a bit better.”
Archie Roach, 66
Few Indigenous singer/songwriters have been as influential and commercially successful as Victoria’s 2020 Australian of the Year Archie Roach, whose 10 studio albums tell heartfelt and often painful stories of his incredible life.
When he was just two, he and his sisters were forcibly removed from their family and placed in an orphanage. After two failed foster placements, he was handed to a Scottish couple whose love of music inspired his own career. Years later, his older sister wrote to tell him their mother had died. He left home penniless and spent 14 years searching for clues about his past and his parents.
“I've got so many stories, it’s like I knew them,” he says. “Every time I sing, I let a little bit of [the pain] go.”
Over the last 30 years, Archie has helped troubled Indigenous youngsters and adults in detention centres and impoverished communities. “I talk about a status quo where people want you to be locked up. Don’t satisfy them with getting into trouble... You don’t need to fall into that trap,” he says. “We carry a heavy burden. A lot of that baggage doesn’t belong to us, and we need somebody else to shoulder some of that responsibility.”
Nicole Kidman, 54
The Oscar-winning actor, who started working at 14, has appeared in almost 90 film and TV projects over the course of her 40-year career. Nicole has been nominated for four Oscars (winning in 2003 for The Hours), eight AACTAs and 17 Golden Globes, winning a Best Actress Golden Globe this year for her film Being the Ricardos, in which she plays Lucille Ball.
“A lot of people as they get older get more protected and terrified,” says Nicole. “My desire is to keep throwing myself into things. My parenting, my relationship, my work.”
She’s committed to telling women’s stories both in front of and behind the camera – forming her own production company, Blossom Films, in 2010 with Per Saari, who she affectionately calls her “work husband” (as opposed to her real husband, country music star Keith Urban). She felt there was a “dearth of roles” for women, especially older women.
On the charity front, Nicole is the international spokesperson for UNIFEM’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women initiative and donates to causes that aid victims of domestic violence. “I feel dedicated to giving back to other women.”
Dr Norman Swan, 68
For many Australians during the pandemic, the ABC podcast Coronacast, co-hosted by Dr Swan, became the daily go-to for answers. It won him his fourth Walkley Award, and propelled him from being a working journalist into one of the most trusted voices about COVID-19.
He admits it’s proved challenging navigating the blurring boundaries of journalism. “It’s probably the hardest bit out of all of this – trying to keep it to analysis and commentary rather than your personal opinion,” he says
The Scottish-born presenter of ABC Radio National’s Health Report, which he created in 1985, initially studied medicine. In 1978, he arrived in Sydney for medical training and never went back. He started at the ABC in 1982, becoming one of the first medically qualified journalists in Australia. He’s appeared on Four Corners, 7.30 and The Biggest Loser, and among many awards is the Gold Walkley, which Dr Swan won in 1988 for revealing scientific fraud conducted by gynaecologist Dr William McBride.
His skill lies in making sense of complicated medical issues. “I don’t dumb down in any shape or form what we’re communicating,” he says. “I think I’ve failed if I haven’t allowed people knowledge to make better decisions about themselves and their health and wellbeing.”
Dr Jamal Rifi, 62
Lebanese-born Australian GP and a prominent figure in the Lebanese Muslim community in Sydney, Dr Rifi was instrumental in driving COVID-19 vaccine uptake in his area. “Myself and my team administered 32,000 vaccines locally,” Dr Rifi tells DARE. “I approached the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL team and we used their iconic Belmore Sports Ground to provide a safe and easy drive-through vaccination hub, at a time when Canterbury-Bankstown was the epicentre for the Delta variant.”
He also set up drive-through tents for testing patients (including one in his front yard) and worked tirelessly to dispel COVID-19 misinformation. “I did this by using the local news outlets, like community radio, where I gave out information in both English and my native Arabic language. Vaccine hesitancy disappeared and the community achieved a very high percentage of vaccination.”
Dr Rifi and his wife Lana’s motorhome retirement plans are currently on hold, but when they’re ready to hit the road, the couple have hundreds of offers of land around the country on which to park their mobile home. “Now is not the time for people to retire, now is the time for people to put their hands up,” says Dr Rifi. “It’s a changing environment and if there’s a need for me, I’ll stay.”
Muriel Halsted, 94
Country Women’s Association (CWA) stalwart Muriel became an internet sensation in 2020 when a video of her making three-ingredient scones went viral and was watched by nearly 10 million people worldwide. The inspirational mother of seven, who was raised in outback NSW, had been filmed for an ABC baking show in her own kitchen, proudly wearing a CWA apron.
Her newfound fame took her by surprise, and she continues to be an active CWA member. “CWA has brought to my life many long and dear friendships,” she tells DARE. “The baby health clinic was a godsend to me rearing my seven children out west. I have always enjoyed, and still do, my contribution to the community. Through my 70 years of membership I have encouraged many women to join.”
Unsurprisingly, she’s an advocate for home cooking. “It is important to learn how to cook a few things from scratch as it is healthy with no additives. Home cooking tastes better because it is fresher and has more flavour, the food is not cooked in bulk quantities and is a whole lot cheaper.”
And her top tip for the perfect scone? “Don’t ever stir them with a spoon and don’t over-handle the mixture.”
Muriel’s scone recipe
1. Preheat oven to 220˚C.
2. Sift 5 cups of self-raising flour and a pinch of salt three times.
3. Fold in 300ml cold cream and 300ml lemonade.
4. Keep folding until all the flour is mixed in.
5. Place on a floured board. Cut into desired sizes and brush with milk.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning the tray once during cooking.
7. Serve with butter, cream and jam, and enjoy!
Costa Georgiadis, 57
As the host of Gardening Australia since 2012, landscape architect Costa passes on his passion for nature to viewers week after week. “It’s amazing to think 10 years have grown and flown by,” he tells DARE. “It is something I adore doing. Getting people excited about gardening, the joys of nature and the biodiversity of the planet that sustains us. I’ll be learning and standing amazed at the altar of nature until the day I become an ingredient for the garden.”
His holistic approach is about the soil and the soul. “I love working with children because it is their planet,” says Costa, who appeared in ABC children’s show Get Grubby TV. “The more they see the connections, the better equipped they will be to take the reins and repair, renew and regenerate.”
He established his community vegetable garden in his street in Bondi, Sydney, which is now home to a street library, compost system, bathtub worm farm, plants and veggies. “The last two years have seen people look to their local community, their local streets, the parks, the bush reserves and gardens and for others their balconies or rooftops, places to retreat and find some space away from the home Zoom sessions and online everything,” he says. “All this draws them into the narrative of the seasons. You can’t undo that good.”
Tina Arena, 54
Outspoken about protecting the arts during COVID-19, Tina hasn’t held back when it comes to the industry she’s been a part of for more than 40 years. In 2021 she commented on lockdowns, arguing there was a double standard when it came to letting sport fixtures take place, while cancelling musical events. “Sport is a great thing, but life is not just about sport, life is about art and culture,” she says. “As the artistic community, we say, ‘No more of your double standards.’”
Tina’s remarkable career began as a performer on TV variety show Young Talent Time. ‘Tiny Tina’ quickly became a fan favourite and holds the record for being the show’s longest serving cast member. She went on to sell more than 10 million albums worldwide and became the first Australian to be awarded the French National Order of Merit (she lived in Paris for many years before moving back to Australia).
Through all her success, she’s still outspoken. “I hated the fact I hit 40 and radio wouldn’t play me. I don’t get it,” she says. “Someone of a certain age and certain experience and certain gender is no longer relevant – says who?”
Craig Foster, 52
When footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was arrested in Thailand after flying in from Australia for his honeymoon in 2018, it set in motion a chain of events that sent shockwaves around the world.
The 21-year-old had fled his native Bahrain four years earlier after speaking out on human rights violations and been granted asylum by Australia. He was detained in a Bangkok prison because Bahraini authorities had issued a notice for his arrest. His situation looked bleak until an unlikely hero stepped forward: former Socceroo and TV pundit Craig Foster.
Since his retirement from sport, Craig had campaigned for players’ rights and served as an ambassador for Amnesty International. When he heard about Hakeem, he started a petition for his release and travelled to Switzerland to present the 50,000 signatures to FIFA’s general secretary. He then went to Thailand and met Hakeem in his prison cell before holding talks with his lawyers, causing a blaze of publicity and the young man was finally released.
Craig continues to campaign for better treatment of asylum seekers detained by Australia, saying: “I’d like Australians to understand all these people are innocent, and they’re nothing more than political pawns.”
Bryan Brown, 74
After starring in more than 80 films and TV projects during his 45-year career – including his early miniseries The Thorn Birds in 1983 and 2019 film Palm Beach (both featuring his wife Rachel Ward) – no-one is more surprised than Bryan to add ‘published author’ to his extensive list of achievements. His book Sweet Jimmy (Allen & Unwin, $29.99) is a collection of short urban crime stories. “I got very good reviews for it, which made me look over my shoulder as to who the hell they were talking about!” he tells DARE. “People are buying it and liking it a great deal.”
Stories include Nightmare, about an Australian couple on a driving holiday in America, started life 40 years ago as a film pitch. “About three years ago, I started to write another story – A Time to Do – inspired by people caught in scams. I just come up with characters and let the characters take me on a journey.”
He hasn’t ruled out a second book. “I’d like to see if I could tell a longer form story. I do have an idea I’m shuffling with in my head at the moment.” In the meantime, he has been learning guitar. “Maybe I’ll put out an album!” he laughs. “But that won’t send people to buy it. It’ll send people to go and get earplugs!”
Judith Lucy, 53
Never one to avoid a difficult subject – the comedian and actress has famously tackled drinking, finding out she was adopted and her father’s death in her writing and onstage – Judith’s recent book Turns Out, I'm Fine: How Not to Fall Apart details losing her brother, a breakup and menopause. This year she’s touring Australia with her best friend, fellow comedian Denise Scott. “We’ve written a play about our experience in lockdown,” she tells DARE. “We’re so excited about being back… and the audience is so excited about being out of the bloody house.”
She’s also doing her bit to fight climate change. “The older you get, the way to keep bouncing back is to think less about yourself and think more about what you can do to help others or help the planet.” Judith objects to the idea that life grinds to a halt as we get older. “All the women I know who are around this age are extraordinary. They’re so engaged with life, their communities and their families and their work. I do feel society is a bit slow on the uptake,” she laughs.
“I want to live an incredibly full life. I love my friends. I still love my job. And the older I get, the more obsessed I become with trying to make the world a bit of a better place.”
Judith Lucy & Denise Scott – Still Here is touring nationwide until 30 August 2022
David Walsh, 60
Making his fortune from a gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports, David is the owner and creator of MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart – which won the 2012 Australian Tourism Award for best new development and has been a major Tasmanian tourist attraction since opening. Indeed he’s credited with changing the course of the island state, and sending tourism to the Apple Isle soaring.
David says he built MONA “to absolve myself from feeling guilty about making money without making a mark”, and the local hero and maverick mathematical genius (who self-diagnosed himself with Asperger’s) has certainly facilitated change. He has also made Tasmania hip, while creating jobs for hundreds of locals at MONA – a place he refers to as his “hotted-up Torana”– and its associated festivals including winter’s Dark MoFo.
As for the future, David is building an extension to the museum to house more works. “I’ll mutate as the world mutates,” he says. “I’m thinking local because local is all there is.” In 2020, MONA was permanently listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register, noted as the state’s most significant site of private architectural patronage.
Judy Davis, 66
She recently won an AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in Film for her role in Nitram, about events leading up to the Port Arthur massacre, but it’s just the latest in a long line of accolades for Judy. After studying at NIDA (alongside Mel Gibson, with whom she famously performed Romeo and Juliet), Judy leapt to prominence in 1979 as Sybylla Melvyn in the coming-of-age saga My Brilliant Career, a role that saw her win the BAFTA for Best Actress and Most Outstanding Newcomer. She has been winning big ever since.
But while she’s lauded for her work in TV, on stage and in film, Judy has actively shunned the spotlight, rarely attending film premieres or award shows, and seldom agreeing to interviews. Or reading them if she does.
“I’ll make sure I don’t read anything that’s written about me,” says the actress who lives in Sydney with her husband, actor Colin Friels. “No matter how good the writer is, you can’t communicate the essence of somebody, and yet that’s the expectation.
“I never wanted celebrity. It’s not a game I’ve ever been interested in,” she adds. “My life leads my work, and I wouldn’t want it to be the reverse.”
Rob de Castella, 65
When the Brisbane Summer Olympics gets underway in 2032, it will be 50 years since a plucky Victorian became a national hero by winning a Commonwealth Games marathon gold medal in the same city. What made Rob de Castella’s feat even more incredible was that he’d been violently ill halfway through the race before somehow recovering to finish first.
He went on to win gold at the World Championships and the following Commonwealth Games, and had top 10 finishes in three Olympic Games.
Since retiring in 1993, Rob has become renowned for his community work, devoting his time to organisations that encourage Australians to eat a healthy diet and exercise more.
In 2003, Rob and his family lost everything in the Canberra bushfires, but even that didn’t dim his passion to give back and he became heavily involved with rebuilding devastated communities.
And when the Olympic flame is lit at the Gabba, Rob is determined that among Australia’s athletes will be Indigenous marathon runners. He fronts the Indigenous Marathon Foundation to encourage greater participation in the sport. “I started it after seeing the disadvantage and struggle within Indigenous people,” he tells DARE. “Running improves mental health and wellbeing – when you do it, you feel good about yourself.”
Dame Olivia Newton-John, 73
After a long career as a singer and actress, these days Olivia, who divides her time between Australia and her home in California, is as much an activist as a performer. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, she has since used her own experiences to promote awareness about the disease. She’s been an avid campaigner for advancing treatments for cancer, including through the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne and her Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund. “My dream is that one day the ONJ Centre will be only about wellness, and we will no longer need cancer centres because cancer will be a thing of the past,” she says.
She has also used her profile to bring attention to post-disaster recovery efforts, including Australia’s Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, and was the first foreign artist to perform in Fukushima, after a nuclear disaster four years earlier forced the city’s evacuation. In 2021 she was awarded Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun.
But it’s cancer that has given her renewed purpose. “I don’t know what I would be without it now. I see it as my life’s journey. It gave me purpose and intention and taught me a lot about compassion.”
Jacki Weaver, 74
The Sydney actress has been a household name in Australia since the 1970s, when she starred in films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and was dubbed a “national treasure” by former prime minister Gough Whitlam. She enjoyed more than 40 years of homegrown theatre, TV and cinema before finding global stardom in Animal Kingdom, the 2010 film that earned her an Academy Award nomination at the age of 63. “I was gobsmacked,” Jacki reflects.
Invited to Hollywood, she was cast as Robert De Niro’s wife in Silver Linings Playbook, picking up a second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod. “To find yourself in bed with Robert De Niro is an extraordinary thing for a woman of my age,” she says.
Jacki moved to LA to capitalise on her fame as a character actor, proving her diversity in the thriller Stoker, Netflix horror Bird Box and Australian movie Penguin Bloom. She’s still scaling new heights in Hollywood, joining Kevin Costner in hit TV series Yellowstone and starring in upcoming Apple TV show, Hello Tomorrow! “My life has totally changed since I came to Hollywood,” she says.
Along the way she has been married five times – twice to ex-husband Derryn Hinch – a colourful life she documented in her memoir, Much Love, Jac.
Dick Smith, 77
The aviator, explorer, publisher, philanthropist and businessman has led a life less ordinary since he founded Dick Smith Electronics in 1968 and became a household name. Selling his company in 1982, Dick went on to break a series of aviation records by aircraft, helicopter and balloon, including the first solo helicopter flight around the world in 1983 and the first flight around the world via the poles in 1988. “Risk-taking is what drives me,” says Dick, who last year released his memoir, My Adventurous Life (Allen & Unwin, $39.99).
Believing philanthropy is an obligation, Dick and his wife Pip gave $5 million to 66 charities in 2021. “If you do well in a country, you haven’t done well just because of your own abilities, it’s because of all the people around you,” he tells DARE. “I’ve always looked at it as an obligation to not only pay my tax but also try and help other people who are less well off. It’s for quite selfish reasons because it makes me feel good.
“Gradually Pip and I have been divesting ourselves and having a simpler life. I found it’s more satisfying. There’s a certain amount of pleasure money can give you but it’s not unlimited. Quite often it’s best to take a step back, which is what I have done.”
Paul Kelly, 67
Songwriter, singer and musical collaborator, Paul is the stuff of legend in the Australian music industry – from spare 1980s indie pop with his band The Dots to today’s partnerships with young artists such as Briggs and Thelma Plum, he’s seemingly adored by every generation of music lover, a rare feat in a fickle industry.
“I’ve never really been in fashion,” he says. “My songs weren’t in fashion or out of fashion. A lot of them are storytelling songs and we all relate to the same stories. Humans are storytelling animals. The same stories keep coming around.”
Paul Kelly and The Messengers – famous for classics like Before Too Long and To Her Door – broke up in 1991 when Paul went solo. Cue induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame plus myriad awards for his works. And his popularity continues to grow, with three number one albums in the last four years, including his best of, Songs From the South: 1985-2019.
“In a lot of ways, it’s mysterious how a record gets to number one,” he says. “That’s not how I write songs. It’s best to try and make records that last, that people still listen to in 20 years’ time.”
Ita Buttrose, 80
“I hope my appointment will encourage other older women to realise there are still mountains to climb and you shouldn’t put a blinker on yourself,” said Ita when she was announced as chair of the ABC in 2019. “I always say to people, don’t put blinkers on yourself. Don’t put blinkers on when you’re a young woman, but you shouldn’t put them on when you’re older either because just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re not accomplished. It doesn’t mean you can’t achieve. You’ve got to believe in yourself.”
Since then the media icon, a former editor of magazines and newspapers, hasn’t shied away from a fight when it comes to her defence of the national broadcaster. No stranger to generating controversy, as the founding editor of Cleo in 1972, she celebrated huge sales with the magazine’s nude male centrefolds and features emphasising sexual and economic independence for women. “We wrote about sex as if we had discovered it,” says Ita.
Now she continues to campaign to raise awareness on health matters for older Australians, including osteoporosis, dementia, arthritis and macular disease. She has also been immortalised as a Barbie doll, as an “inspirational role model for aspiring women in business”.
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