Vic charity founder, AFLW star honoured

AFLW star Tayla Harris has been named Victoria's Young Australian of the Year.
AFLW star Tayla Harris has been named Victoria's Young Australian of the Year.

Homelessness campaigner Donna Stolzenberg is Victoria's nomination for Australian of the Year, while AFLW star Tayla Harris has been bestowed the state's honour for young people.

In a live stream of the annual awards ceremony on Tuesday night, National Homeless Collective founder and chief executive Ms Stolzenberg was announced as the state's 2021 Australian of the Year.

The nationwide charity evolved from the 52-year-old's idea to hand out 50 donated sleeping bags to the homeless in 2014.

Under the direction of the proud Indigenous woman, NHC has expanded to also help those affected by domestic violence and social disadvantage.

"Donna's generosity and resourcefulness have provided practical solutions in Australia's most recent crises," a statement read.

"This includes helping women to safely escape homelessness, people affected by bushfires, or those locked down in the Melbourne towers during COVID-19."

Dual sports star Harris, who plays Australian rules for the Carlton women's team and holds the national super welterweight boxing title, was named Victoria's Young Australian of the Year.

The 23-year-old forward memorably spoke out against cyberbullying and disrespect towards women after a photo of her trademark kicking action became the subject of sexualised online trolling in 2019.

Founder of the Australian Vietnamese Women's Association Bich Cam Nguyen took out the senior category, while the creator of Gowns for Doctors Dr Kirby White was recognised as the state's local hero.

The four recipients will join counterparts from other states and territories on Australia Day eve next year when the 2021 national award winners are announced.

Australian Associated Press