2023 Australia Day Ambassador
Jeremy S Jones AM
Jeremy Jones AM has devoted his life to bringing people of different backgrounds, faiths and experiences together, to build a stronger, more positive and more dynamic Australia, which he believes can lead the world as an example of constructive multiculturalism. The only person to win both the Australian Human Rights Medal (2007) and the top NSW Community Harmony Award (2016), he has been in the forefront of developing inter-religious and inter-ethnic cooperation and collaboration, while also being active in organising cooperative activity for Indigenous reconciliation and fighting against racism and religious vilification.
A graduate of the University of Sydney in History and Government, he was the Chair of the Advisory Committee of Faith Communities to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, was a People of Australia Ambassador for the entire term of that programme and has been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2017. He has held the highest elected position in the Australian Jewish community, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and a number of other positions in leading state, national and international Jewish organisations.
He has been a member of the NSW Police Commissioner’s Multicultural Advisory Council and the NSW Government’s Social Justice Reference Group. He is the first Australian to serve on the Board of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (the Jewish worlds interlocutor with the Vatican, WCC and World Muslim League) and is the Chair of Interfaith Dialogues representing Jewish Australians nationally. He is Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and Senior Contributing Editor of the Australia/Israel Review.
Mr. John Harper
John Harper is a wheat/sheep farmer from Stockinbingal (Southern NSW) who, in 2006 began Mate helping Mate in the north-east Riverina. John had recognised that as a consequence of the continuing drought and being rural or regional, many of his neighbours were becoming isolated or socially withdrawn. Having experienced depression, John understood that this isolation and withdrawal placed people at risk of developing a mental illness.
Mate helping Mate is based on social and creative self-help strategies for managing difficult times and revolves around the benefits of mateship and a sense of community. John has a unique visual method of presenting his information that appeals to a broad audience and has enabled people to understand the concepts of mental wellbeing John wishes to impart. For example, John uses the visual aid of a slippery dip to explain the ‘slide into depression’.
From 2007 to the present John has given a lot of his time voluntarily to speak at rural mental health, drought and general agribusiness events. Organisations such as WorkCover NSW, Dept of I & I, the YWCA of NSW and Centacare have also sponsored John to speak and present at events. Mate helping Mate has proved so successful and engaging that John is busily speaking across eastern Australia. The program has been widely promoted and supported by media, resulting in John being a finalist in the NSW Australian of the Year (Local Hero) for 2009, a Pride of Australia medal (Community Spirit) 2008 and with being honoured by Rotary with a Paul Harris Fellow even though not a Rotarian.
John is convinced that ultimately everybody wants to be happy and enjoy their life. Mateship, family and community are paramount in achieving this goal and John is focused in promoting awareness and action in these specific areas.
Mates, family and the community should enjoy the good times together and care about the individuals during the bad. It is a simple concept, it is the Australian way and it is John Harper’s way.