Congratulations Deng Thiak Adut

At the age of six, Deng Thiak Adut was snatched from his mother and forced to fight in the war that eventually split his homeland of Sudan. Deng was eventually smuggled out of Sudan into Kenya before making it to Australia in 1998. Deng’s life journey has taken him from an illiterate child soldier to a criminal lawyer making a difference in Western Sydney.

His remarkable story has spread around the world, and has inspired millions of people, thanks to a viral video made by his alma mater, Western Sydney University. Now studying for a second Master’s degree, Deng co-founded AC Law Group and fights for members of the Sudanese community from his home in Blacktown. While his life is now a long way from the privations of his childhood, Deng inspires others with his story of triumph over tragedy, and of the contributions that refugees can make to Australia’s rich community.

Deng was named the 2017 NSW Australia of the Year.



“Victoria: The Queen” By Julia Baird

Julia’s new book “Victoria: The Queen” is a page-turning biography revealing the real woman behind the myth: a bold, glamorous, unbreakable queen—a Victoria for our times. Drawing on previously unpublished papers, this stunning new portrait is a story of love and heartbreak, of devotion and grief, of strength and resilience.



Congratulations Allan Sparkes

Allan Sparkes is a Deputy Commissioner of the Mental Health Commission of NSW. He is a former NSW Police Officer, who served in an operational capacity for 20 years, most of which as a criminal investigator. Allan is one of Australia’s most highly decorated citizens. He is one of only 5 Australians in the past 41 years to receive Australia’s highest bravery decoration and civilian award, the Cross of Valour. In August 2016, the Governor General of Australia announced Allan is to be awarded a subsequent Australian Bravery Decoration, the Commendation for Brave Conduct for saving the life of a man who had fallen onto train tracks at Redfern Railway Station in 2014. No other Australian has ever received these two honours. He is a recipient of other significant awards for bravery and service including the NSW Police Commissioners Valour Award.

Allan is a passionate advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, using his lived experience of PTSD, depression, suicidality and recovery. He has been a volunteer member of the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team since 2014 and member of the Mental Health Commission of NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Panel. He is also an Australia Day Ambassador and an Ambassador for beyondblue, Soldier On and Kookaburra Kids