Media Release: Emma McKeon AM recognised with Young Australian of the Year award

26 January 2024


Minister for Early Childhood Education

Member for Youth

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the 2024 Young Australian of the Year, Emma McKeon AM from Queensland.

Emma is a worthy recipient following her significant contributions as an athlete and to the Australian swimming community. 

After competing at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Emma is Australia’s most successful Olympian ever. She became the first female swimmer to win seven medals in a single Olympics.

Emma illustrates the extraordinary capacity of what young Australians can achieve. Their work exemplifies strength, courage, and leadership in our communities, which resonate with all Australians.

Her selection as this year’s Young Australian of the Year was drawn from an admirable list of finalists:

  • The Australian Capital Territories’ Caitlin Figueiredo has brought young people's voices into parliament in 2015 through a national youth advisory council and more recently as an Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) board member. Caitlin also founded Girls Take Over Parliament.
  • Nikhil Autar from New South Wales is a medical student and cancer survivor who created Knia Maps – ‘Know In Advance Maps’ – which shows accessibility at major Sydney hospitals, universities and transport, plus hundreds of small businesses. Nikhil also founded Bheem Health, which provides low-cost medical devices for vulnerable people.
  • As well as being an active fundraiser for the Fred Hollows Foundation and Indonesian orphanages, the Northern Territory’s Peter Susanto was the first Territorian to represent Australia in the International Brain Bee Olympiad, coming third in the world. Peter is 16 years old and is currently studying to become a doctor at Charles Darwin University.
  • South Australia’s Tiahni Adamson is a First Nations woman descended from the Kaurareg Nations and a passionate wildlife conservation biologist. Tiahni is a regular speaker on the intersection of Indigenous justice, climate change and environmental conservation, and has been recognised as one of Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM.
  • Naarah is a First Nations Gija women from Hobart, Tasmania, who uses her acting and musical skills to make a positive impact as an Indigenous activist, and has used social media to spark important conversations about First Nations identity, culture and representation.
  • Bhakta Bahadur Bhattarai is a Bhutanese refugee now living in Victoria. Bhakta founded the Albury Wodonga Multicultural Community Events Inc in 2014, which advocates for multicultural communities, showcases their cultural traditions, and organises help during difficult times.
  • And Western Australia’s Kate Kirwin founded She Codes Australia in 2015, which to date has helped teach more than 6,000 women coding skills. She is helping to close the gender gap in tech sectors and to empower women from remote regions.

Congratulations to Emma, and all the finalists, who remind us of the extraordinary contributions of young Australians and the important role they play in making our communities and our country stronger.