Published: 19 December 2017

Legislative Council Tuesday 28 November 2017

Ms  FORREST (Murchison ) - Mr President, on 17 November the Governor, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner presented the 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Award to an amazing north-west coaster, Scott Rankin.  Scott and his family live in Boat Harbour.  I am proud to have a man of such vision, compassion, talent and respect for others living in my electorate. 

Scott is a theatre director, writer and founder of the arts charity Big hART.  As the company's CEO and creative director, Scott leads a passionate team to tell Australia's most invisible stories, working with over 50 communities in regional, remote and urban Australia.  No tale is too tough to tell - domestic violence, incarceration, addiction, homelessness or intergenerational injustice faced by Indigenous Australians.

A multi-award-winning writer and director in his own right, Scott's works have featured many times in major international and national arts festivals, with films screening on the ABC and SBS and at film festivals across the country.  His acclaimed production Namatjira, for example, celebrates the legacy of one of Australia's best-loved artists. 

Big hART remains Scott's greatest legacy and reflects his selfless contribution to the arts and to society.  This organisation had its humble beginnings in Burnie on Tasmania's north-west coast following the closure of the Burnie Paper Mill 25 years ago.  Scott began his bold experiment to look at ways of dealing with disadvantage and providing a voice for those whose stories are not always told or heard.  The company has since grown and become the largest social change arts and media company in the country. 

This year has been a big year for Big hART.  In 2017 Big hART celebrates 25 years of being Australia's leading arts and social justice organisation, telling Australia's most invisible stories.

Big hART is a registered charity that has had an estimated 8000 people involved in the generation of performances and art in urban, rural, regional and remote Australia, with a threefold focus on making art, building community and driving change.  The organisation has raised $50 million in cash to deliver projects to disadvantaged communities across Australia.  Big hART has delivered projects in the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Ten Days on the Island and Edinburgh festivals.  Big hART has also toured Dublin, London, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, South Africa, New Zealand and Germany.

Scott has been the executive producer of AFI award-winning films Hurt, which was on SBS; DRIVE on ABC1; Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji, also on ABC1; Knot @ Home, an eight part SBS documentary series; 900 Neighbours on ABC1; and Gold, which was shown online.  Scott's theatre works include O, Ghosts in the Scheme, Blue Angel, Hipbone Sticking Out, Namatjira, Ngapartji, Nyuntu Ngali, and Box the Pony with Leah Purcell. 

Scott is renowned for creating works with varied genres, such as the award-winning outdoor public housing work Stickybricks and the floating video installation piece Junk Theory, both at the Sydney Festival; the international hit comedy Certified Male, with Glynn Nicholas; large-scale film and radio installations, including the project Drive In Holiday; and experimental works like Beastly Girl. 

Scott has won three Green Room awards for best direction and most innovative production.  Big hART has also received many awards from different fields for its theatre, film and community cultural development work, including a World Health Organisation award, an AFI, eight Institute of Criminology Crime and Violence Prevention Awards and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award.  Most recently, it won the 2017 Telstra Business Award for Tasmanian Business of the Year and Charity of the Year.

Most notably, in 2017 Big hART celebrates with the Namatjira family the final return of Albert Namatjira's copyright to the family after an eight-year campaign of fighting for justice.  After receiving this latest Tasmanian Australian of the Year Award, Scott said he was feeling humbled and honoured to be among others working hard for their communities.  He said passion for him is cultural rights and that means the right to be included in your community, to have your background be visible and your future to be on people's minds.  He said everybody has the right to thrive, so it will hopefully help to push that very important agenda.  I have often heard him say it is hard to hurt somebody when you know their story.

I sincerely thank and congratulate Scott and wish him and all the finalists all the very best.  I personally hope Scott is announced as the Australian of the Year for 2018.  I know he will be an amazing advocate for all Australians, particularly those from marginalised groups.  Congratulations, Scott Rankin.

Members - Hear, hear.

 

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