Australia’s most culturally powerful people have been announced for another year, by the Australian Financial Review, in what is one of the panel’s most interesting and thought-provoking selections of Australian identities in some years.
Taking out top spot is Saxon Mullins, who was thrust into the limelight earlier this year when she bravely shared her story of sexual assault with ABC program Four Corners, when she recounted the harrowing story of her alleged rape in a back alley in Kings Cross by Luke Lazarus, which ultimately led to no conviction. Her compelling story triggered a national conversation about consent, and the practical application of #metoo.
Also on the list are paralympians Kurt Fearnley and Dylan Alcott, who came in at equal fifth position for their effortless determination to not just excel at their chosen fields, but to normalise disability.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made the list at number two, most notably for his persistent effort during last year’s contentious postal plebiscite for marriage equality. Chaser alumni and War on Waste advocate Craig Reucassel took out sixth spot, for his one-man, multi-platform crusade on rubbish, and how Australians can improve their habits for a better environment in years to come.
Perhaps most notably, however, is number seven, which went to Tasmanian comedienne Hannah Gadsby, for her incredibly powerful stand-up special on Netflix, Nanette. Nanette made huge waves when it was released earlier this year for its handling of serious issues including sexual assault, homophobia and sexism, all while charming the audience and leaving an entire crowd with tears on their cheeks, before shocking the crowd by announcing her retirement from stand-up as a format at the end of the show.
This is not the first time AFR’s list of most culturally powerful Australians has shone a spotlight on sexual assault; in 2004 the top spot was given to the “Bulldogs Whitleblower”, who alleged six members of Canterbury’s notoriously ill-behaved NRL team had raped her, though much like Saxon’s case, nobody was convicted.
See below for the full list.
1. Saxon Mullins – Woman at the centre of the Luke Lazarus rape case
2. Alan Joyce – CEO Qantas Airlines
3. Tony Ayres – Screenwriter/Director
4. Pat Anderson – Human Rights Advocate, Health Administrator
5. Kurt Fearnley & Dylan Alcott – Disabled Athletes
6. Craig Reucassel – Comedian, The War on Waste
7. Hannah Gadsby – Comedian, Nannette
8. Aliir Aliir & Majak Daw – Sudanese and Kenyan AFL Players
9. Judith Neilson – Arts Philanthropist
10. Warwick Thornton – Film Director/Screenwriter/Cinematographer, We Don’t Need a Map