South Australia's Senior Australian of the Year finalists

Peter Couche

Peter Couche

Peter Couche, 65 - Stroke survivor (Toorak Gardens)

Two decades ago, Peter Couche was a highly successful stockbroker and father of three living in London when a catastrophic stroke left him a quadriplegic with "locked-in syndrome". Aged just 42, Peter, was faced with rebuilding his life with nothing left but his mind. Against all odds, Peter has survived and prospered. His book Lifelines, which records his inspiring story, took 13 years to write. The driving force behind the Peter Couche Foundation, Peter works to raise money to fund vital stem cell research and elevate awareness of the leading cause of disability in Australia. Despite seemingly insurmountable physical impairments – he cannot speak or move his body – Peter has shown true courage, resourcefulness and resilience when most people would simply give up. Seeing his role as that of an ‘agent for change’ rather than a direct beneficiary, Peter is dedicated to championing a cure for the 250,000 Australians who are currently living with the aftermath of a life-altering stroke.

Monica Oliphant

Monica Oliphant

Monica Oliphant AO, 75 - Scientist (Bedford Park)

An inspiring advocate for science and sustainability, Monica Oliphant has influenced the future of energy consumption around the world. Starting out as a laser physicist, she is now recognised internationally as a pioneer in the use of solar photovoltaics and renewable energy.  Monica has devoted her long career – much in her own time and without financial reward – to the promotion of renewable energy both in Australia and overseas. As a senior research scientist with the Electricity Trust of South Australia for two decades, Monica undertook research into renewable energy, with her work enabling grid-connected solar and wind power. Globally-recognised as a leader in her field, Monica has shared her knowledge at conferences in many countries and her work has facilitated development of clean energy policies around the world. Volunteering her time on boards and energy associations culminated in the presidency of the International Solar Energy Society. Monica has maintained a lifelong commitment to improving all people’s access, particularly those of lower socio-economic status, to environmentally and economically sustainable energy.

Tauto Sansbury

Tauto Sansbury

Tauto Sansbury, 66 - Aboriginal Elder (Norwood)

Working and speaking from the heart, Tauto Sansbury has devoted more than 30 years to the passionate advocacy of his people. Born on Point Pearce Mission on the Yorke Peninsula of Narungga heritage, Tauto was deeply involved in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, leading both the national and state Aboriginal justice advisory committees for more than a decade. Attending to the deaths and autopsies of 18 Aboriginal people who died in custody was very difficult, yet Tauto never shied away in his determination to represent the best interests of the families and the deceased. Overcoming his own personal challenges and considerable disadvantage, Tauto is focused on cultural understanding and youth programs, and is establishing an Aboriginal employment program that delivers jobs on ‘country’. A champion for his people, Tauto continues to campaign for Australia’s First Peoples across all areas and remains committed to uniting all Australians to fight injustice.

Phyl Skinner OAM

Phyl Skinner OAM

Phyl Skinner OAM, 93 - Entertainer (Parkside)

Australia’s last vaudevillian, Phyl Skinner is still high kicking at the age of 93. The soul of South Australia’s show business, Phyl has spent nearly 90 years on stage. From a career as a child dancer, Phyl was personally chosen by the legendary Roy ‘Mo’ Rene to stooge for him in sketches. She toured with vaudeville shows, has acted, directed and choreographed for most Adelaide theatre companies alongside Bob Hope and when World War II broke out, Phyl entertained the troops. In the 2015 Adelaide Festival Fringeshe sang ‘Brown Slouch Hat’ 73 years after she first performed it. An ardent volunteer, no charity in South Australia has missed out on Phyl’s generosity. She’s cooked for Meals on Wheels for three decades, coordinates and performs a fortnightly Morning Melodies for seniors and is in great demand as a public speaker and performer. Wise and wonderful, Phyl has a remarkable gift for making people feel good and is an exemplar of positive ageing.

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