The 12 finalists for the NSW Australian of the Year awards have been released, with burns survivor Turia Pitt and lawyer Deng Adut among the nominees.

A refugee turned lawyer, an ironwoman fighting against tremendous odds and an undergraduate astrophysicist – these are some of the extraordinary people up for the 2017 NSW Australian of the Year awards.

The 16 finalists were revealed on Thursday across four categories, with the winners in each to be announced early next month.

Familiar national heroes like burns survivor and ironwoman Turia Pitt and indigenous activist Stan Grant are up for the prestigious awards, alongside palliative care innovator Meredith Dennis and 25-year-old astrophysicist Shyeh Tjing Cleo Loi.

Ms Dennis, a NSW Local Hero nominee, has spent the past two decades revolutionising palliative care in NSW through her organisation, Tweed Palliative Support, enabling access to specialised equipment as well as providing practical and emotional support.

Nominated for Young Australian of the Year, Ms Loi made a major astrophysics discovery, locating huge plasma tubes in the atmosphere after scientists had long hypothesised about their existence.

Their incredible work has been recognised alongside that of several others, such as refugee and lawyer Deng Adut, who escaped Sudan after being forced to become a child soldier. He co-founded AC Law Group, fighting for members of the Sudanese community from his home in Blacktown.

Australia’s first celebrity doctor, John Knight, has been nominated for Senior Australian of the Year for his outstanding commitment to medicine and charity while former NSW Police commissioner Ken Moroney has also been recognised for his contribution to children’s charities.

“The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society” National Australia Day Council chief executive Chris Kirby said.

“The NSW Award finalists are remarkable group of people from many walks of life who inspire us with their drive and commitment.”

The NSW winners will be announced on November 7 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

They will then join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards, which will be held in Canberra on January 25.

FULL ARTICLE at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/20/extraordinary-aussies-picked-top-award

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