2015 Award winners Howard Jacobson, Kylie Minogue & Evie Wyld


Australian of the Year Kylie Minogue, The Hon Alexander Downer and Bill Muirhead
Kylie Minogue

Australia Day Foundation Director, Bill Muirhead said: “I can think of no other Australian artist who has produced the quantity and quality of work that Kylie Minogue has throughout her career, she is an icon in the world of music and an inspiration to millions of people worldwide. Her legacy goes beyond music; she continues to work tirelessly to raise money for many charities. In recognition of her work not just as international performer but for her work promoting breast cancer awareness and inspiring young women the world over to take care of their health The Australia Day Foundation considers Kylie Minogue a truly worthy recipient of the 2015 Australian of the Year in the UK award.”



Kylie Minogue is known throughout the world with a music career spanning almost 3 decades.

Melbourne born, Minogue began acting at age 11, achieving recognition in her late teens as tomboy mechanic in the TV soap ‘Neighbours’. 

The 1987 wedding episode with Australia’s Jason Donovan achieved an audience of 20 million British viewers.

Minogue’s musical career began the same year when her first single ‘Locomotion’ was released, resulting in her winning her first ARIA Award.

This success led to her move to London and the transformation from her ‘girl next door’ image to a more mature, sexy, style in her music and public persona.   It didn’t take too long for Minogue to become the first female solo artist to exceed sales of 2 million in the UK, and in 1990 she embarked on her first UK concert tour.


At the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony, Minogue had everyone in the stadium on their feet during her performance of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" – it was brilliant finale to a brilliant Games. The following year Minogue embarked on the ‘On A Night Like This Tour’ which sold out across Australia and the UK.

It was half way through her ‘Showgirl’ world tour in 2005 that Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tour was cancelled but the following year she was back on the road with her ‘Showgirl: Homecoming Tour”.  For her work in raising awareness for breast cancer, Anglia Ruskin University awarded Minogue with an honorary degree.

Minogue is rarely out of the charts, the albums keep coming (over 70 million record sales to date) and so do the awards, to date 16 ARIA awards including a Mo Award for Australian Performer of the Year for her live performances, 2 Brit Awards for Best International Female Solo Artist and Best International Album, 1 Grammy Award, 3 Ivor Novello Awards and in 2011 she was inducted by ARIA into their Hall of Fame.


Her 10 concert world tours have been critically acclaimed and hit single, "I Should Be So Lucky" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Sounds of Australia registry.


In 2008 Kylie Minogue was awarded an OBE for ‘services to music’ and was appointed by the French Government as a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the junior grade of France's highest cultural honour, for her contribution to the enrichment of French culture.


2012 marked a quarter of a century in music and culminated in Minogue launching a book celebrating her 25 year career, the release of two albums, a tour and a single release ‘Timebomb’, her 44th Top 40 hit.  She also performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, the BBC Proms in the Park, the Sydney Mardi Gras and finally at the 02 Arena, performing for Sport Relief ‘Especially for You’ with Jason Donovan, for the first time in two decades. 

Minogue shows no signs of slowing down, last year she released her 12th album, appeared as a coach on the third series of The Voice UK and The Voice Australia and most importantly helped launch a new campaign entitled One Note Against Cancer, which is a charity organisation to help cancer research.


Read More >


Howard Jacobson is awarded Honorary Australian of the Year
Howard Jacobson


Australia Day Foundation Chairman, Philip Aiken said:

“In the preface to the new edition on ‘In the Land of OZ’,  Jacobson writes… I fell for Australia when I first went there as a young man to teach at Sydney University.  On the morning I left, three year later, I sat on a bench in a little park overlooking the Harbour and wept. My passion for the place returns the moment the sun comes out in England.  At the first hint of warmth, I smell Australia and long to be back there. The Australia Day Foundation considers Howard Jacobson a very worthy recipient of the 2015 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award.

Award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammer School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F.R. Leavis. 

In 1965 he sailed to Sydney to lecture at the University of Sydney’s English Department.  He was to take over from Germaine Greer who he was informed was a ‘tough act to follow’.  

 Years later he wrote in the Observer......’we entered the Heads on a broiling February afternoon. The sky was a phosphorescent blue, the air was balmy, Waltzing Matilda played on the loudspeaker system.  I could barely breathe for the kitschy splendour of it all’.

After lecturing for 3 years he returned to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge and for a short time at Wolverhampton Polytechnic. His time at Wolverhampton was to form the basis for his first novel ‘Coming From Behind’.  Other novels followed - Peeping Tom, Redback , The Very Model of a Man, No More Mister Nice Guy, The Mighty Waltzer, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, Who’s Sorry Now, The  Making of Henry, Kalooki Nights, The Act of Love and in 2010 won the Man Booker prize for The Finkler Question.

After winning the Man Booker prize, Jacobson acknowledged the ‘huge influence’ Australia had on his writing and humour. His Australian publishers said the win was especially pleasing because of Jacobson’s ‘strong Australian connections’.

His next novel ‘Zoo Time’ won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize (the only author to have one the prize twice) and last year his novel ‘J’ was short listed for the Man Booker Prize.

Jacobson has written 5 non-fiction books and in 1987 published ‘In The Land of Oz’.  On what he calls ‘the adventure of his life’ Jacobson travels around Australia, never entirely sure where he is heading next or whether he has the courage to tackle the wild life of the bush, the wild men of the outback, or even wilder women of the seaboard cities. It is a wildly funny account of his travels.

Last year Jacobson wrote and presented a 2-part series ‘Brilliant Creatures/Rebels of Oz’ for the BBC and ABC. The series celebrates Australia’s ‘Brilliant Creatures’ four titans who left Australia in the late 1950s and 60s and became icons – and indeed iconoclasts – in the ‘cultural heartland’ of the West. 

Read More >


Evie Wyld
Evie Wyld

Australia Day Foundation Director, Dick Porter said “in an interview Evie Wyld had once made the comment “my Australian identity has always been important to me and my voice is in my books – Australia is the place that I write from.  For me it’s the first place that I go to when I’m thinking creatively”.   Evie is a gifted young writer and to have won so many important literary prizes for her 2 novels is a great achievement. The Australia Day Foundation has great pleasure in awarding Evie Wyld the 2015 Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK.”

Evie Wyld was born in 1980 to an Australian mother and English father. She grew up in London but frequently visited her grandparents’ sugar cane farm in New South Wales.

She obtained a BA from Bath Spa University and in 2005 graduated from the Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths University with Distinction.

Much of Wyld’s writing begins with the landscapes of her childhood, remembering being alone Out the Back and making up stories from there. 

Wyld’s terrifically self-assured debut novel, ‘After the Fire, A Still Small Voice’ won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize   and a Betty Trask Award. 


Published in 2009 to rave reviews, it is set in eastern Australia and tells a story of fathers and sons, their wars and the things that they will never know about each other.


The Observer reviewer commented… ‘The landscape of Australia’s east coast looms large in the book, wild and sinister, filled with light and tragedy.  This is a sad and lovely novel from a talented new writer’.

Wyld has published many short stories and her debut novel was published on-line as one of Granta's New Voices. 

In 2010 Wyld was the Booktrust’s third online ‘Writer in Residence’ and the following year was listed as one of the Culture Show’s Best New British Novelists.  She was also short listed for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. 


Wyld’s second novel ‘All the Birds Singing’ was released in June 2013 to critical acclaim and concerns an Australian sheep farmer working on an English hill farm. Wyld won the Encore Award for the second best novel and was included in Granta’s list of Best of Young British Novelists.


Last year she was awarded Australia’s most important book prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award. On winning the prize, she commented…’The Miles Franklin is the only prize I have ever followed, partly because I am such a huge fan of Tim Winton….these  Australian writers are the ones I learned to write from..

Wyld often takes to the stage to read from and discuss her novels and participated in the inaugural Australia and New Zealand Literary Festival of Arts at King’s College last summer.

In September Jonathan Cape will be publishing a graphic memoir that Wyld wrote with an artist, Joseph Sumner, called Everything is Teeth, which is about growing up feeling pulled between Australia and England - and more importantly, sharks.

When not writing Evie Wyld runs Review, a small independent bookshop in Peckham Rye and she frequently returns to Australia to visit her family.



Read More >
Designed and built by D.T. Practice
© Australia Day Foundation / 2019