Western Australia's nominees for the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards

And the winners are: WA's 2022 Australians of the Year announced

The 2022 Western Australia Australian of the Year Awards have been announced this evening in a ceremony at the Westin Hotel, Perth, in the presence of The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia.

The four WA recipients will join those from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2022.

WA AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 

Paul Litherland

Cyber safety educator and campaigner

In the last five years of his career as a police officer in Western Australia, Paul Litherland worked in the force's Technology Crime Unit. While there, he became acutely aware of just how vulnerable kids were on the internet. He also felt frustration at the lack of legislation available to help fight internet crime.

In response, Paul began conducting cyber safety presentations at schools. By 2014, he'd turned his passion into a business - founding Surf Online Safe to educate teachers, students and parents about internet awareness and safety.

Today he's one of Australia's leading experts in the field. A highly sought-after speaker, 49 year old Paul has spoken at more than 550 schools and organisations across the country, sharing his cyber safety educational presentations with upwards of 250,000 people.

Paul experienced a terrible motorbike accident in 2004 where he was initially told he'd never walk or work again. Despite this, he defied the odds and has gone on to be an inspiration to many.

WA YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR 

Kendall Whyte

Founder and CEO of the Blue Tree project

Kendall Whyte is the founder and CEO of Blue Tree Project, a grass-roots charity making an impact across Australia. Its mission is to help spark difficult conversations and break down the stigma of mental health, by giving dead trees 'a blue lease on life'.

The Blue Tree Project is inspired by the tragic loss of Kendall's brother, Jayden, after taking his own life in 2018. The blue tree that was once painted as a practical joke now acts as a beacon of hope for those struggling, with over 700 trees now painted across Australia and the world.

Within just two years, the Blue Tree Project has helped facilitate better understanding of mental health, while providing free education seminars and creating engaging community events within regional Western Australia.

Kendall's work is helping spread the message that "it's ok to not be ok". By speaking openly and authentically, the 28 year old is helping break down the fear of judgement that stops people seeking help for mental illness.

WA SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

Janice Standen

President of Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren WA

Janice (Jan) Standen is president of the volunteer-run charity organisation, Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren WA (GRGWA). In this role, she advocates passionately for grandparent carers - a crucial but often ignored community in Australia.

Jan joined GRGWA in 2013 when her three grandchildren came to live with her. She knows the day-to-day battles that grandparents experience as primary carers, having lived them herself.

Against significant obstacles, Jan has driven the rapid expansion of GRGWA. She created a structure for the organisation and secured a fit-for-purpose premise, raising GRGWA's profile and increasing membership and outreach by more than 40%.

More than two-thirds of grandparent carers live in poverty. So under Jan's stewardship, GRGWA offers free legal and counselling support, a food bank pick-up centre, a donations distribution service and an op shop providing free clothing and toys. GRGWA also connects new grandparent carers to services and community.

Authentic, passionate and egalitarian, 73 year old Jan has made an outstanding contribution to the Western Australian community.

WA LOCAL HERO 

Craig Hollywood

Founder and CEO of Short Black & Sidewalks

In 2015, Craig Hollywood pitched the idea of offering free haircuts to the homeless to the team at Westons Barbershop in Perth. Calling it Short Back & Sidewalks, it has since grown into a national initiative that's gone from strength to strength.

Since the days of heading to car parks in the Perth suburb of Northbridge with a couple of barbers, Short Back & Sidewalks now has around 250 volunteers on its books. Over the years it's given out around 6,400 free haircuts, regularly operating alongside some of Australia's largest service providers.

Initially set up to help members of the community experiencing homelessness, Short Back & Sidewalks has now expanded its reach. It also supports young people at risk, women with lived experience of domestic violence, and remote communities where a haircut isn't easily accessible.

By giving free haircuts, 38 year old Craig is creating positive connections with vulnerable and marginalised community members - ultimately building a stronger and more inclusive community.

Congrats on making history

Chairman of Auspire - Australia Day Council WA Bradley Woods congratulated the recipients on making history.

"The four recipients have earned their place alongside an impressive and distinguished list of past Australian of the Year recipients. We thank them for their dedication and contribution to our State and Nation," said Mr Woods.

National Australia Day Council chief executive Karlie Brand added her congratulations to the award recipients who now go on to be national finalists.

"The WA award recipients have taken action where they've seen a need and are advocating to improve the lives of others," said Ms Brand.

"They are using their skills, their influence or their own experiences to provide support and to make a real difference.

"We look forward to welcoming them to Canberra for the national awards in January."

ACM, publisher of this newspaper, is Media Partner of the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards.

The following profiles and pictures of the 16 nominees have been supplied by the National Australia Day Council, as organisers of the Australian of the Year Awards.

For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit australianoftheyear.org.au.

This story And the winners are: WA's 2022 Australians of the Year announced first appeared on Mandurah Mail.