Veena a NSW finalist for Australian of the Year

UNSW SMaRT Centre Director, Professor Veena Sahajwalla has been shortlisted as a NSW finalist for the Australian of the Year.

Veena is one of four NSW Australian of the Year finalists and they will be formally announced in a ceremony on the evening of Monday 15 November 2021 at Luna Park, Sydney which will also be available to watch online via livestream.

They will then join the other state and territory recipients as national finalists for the national awards announcement on 25 January 2022.

Twelve other people were made finalists for three other related Australian of the Year awards.

National Australia Day Council (NADC) CEO Karlie Brand congratulated the NSW nominees on being recognised by their communities.

“The NSW nominees are an extraordinary group of people,” said Ms Brand.

“Scientific technology, advocacy for vulnerable people, grassroots programs which have grown to national status and lifetimes of giving and helping others – they are all to be admired and celebrated.”

Veena said: “It is such an honour to be shortlisted as an Australian of the Year NSW finalist. It has been a real privilege to live, work and have a family in Australia.

"For me, my passion for science and technology continues to grow as we strive to help solve some of our global and local challenges. It is also vitally important to continue the progress made on encouraging greater participation in STEM.

"It is crucial for science, industry and the community to collaboratively work together on societal solutions, such as the microrecycling science and new technologies I and my team at the UNSW SMaRT Centre are pioneering, to help solve some of our urgent waste and resources challenges.

“Science and engineering play such a vital role in helping to solve challenges we face to improve our environmental, social and economic wellbeing.”

Veena's bio on the Australian of the Year awards website

Background to the Australian of the Year awards

Images of Veena

​​​​​​​Download the NSW Australian of the Year media release

Names of all 16 NSW finalists:

NSW Australian of the Year

Erika Gleeson - Founder and CEO of Autism Swim (Port Macquarie)

June Riemer - Disability advocate and deputy CEO of First Peoples Disability Network (Nambucca Heads)

Professor Veena Sahajwalla - Founding Director, Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at UNSW (Kensington, Sydney)

Lyn Williams AM - Founder and Artistic Director of Gondwana Choirs (Dulwich Hill, Sydney)

NSW Young Australian of the Year

Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad - Author and Founding Director of Sweatshop Literacy

Movement (Birrong, Sydney)

Isaiah Dawe - Founder and CEO of ID. Know Yourself (Darlington/Gadigal Country)

Amelia Munday - STEM and disability advocate (Berkeley Vale)

Daniel Nour - Founder of Street Side Medics (Sylvania Waters, Sydney)

NSW Senior Australian of the Year

Roger Dive - Former Magistrate and Senior Judge, Drug Court of NSW (Ku-ring-gai Sydney)

Sergeant Bert Le-Merton - World War II veteran and fundraiser for veterans

Abla Kadous - President of Islamic Women’s Welfare Association (Sydney)

Associate Professor Lynette Riley - Academic and education trailblazer (Kogarah, Sydney)

NSW Local Hero

Anthony Cohen - Founder of Project Displaced (Sydney)

Samantha Payne - Co-founder and CEO of Pink Elephants (Botany, Sydney)

Carmen Platt - Co-founder and CEO of The Generous and The Grateful (Ryde, Sydney)

Shanna Whan - Founder and CEO of Sober in the Country (Narrabri)