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Amazing Australians who are making the world a better place in 2016

Dr Sanjeev Bandi, Dr Van Tung Bui, Dai Aoki, Danling Xiao and Heather Black have all made big impacts in 2016.
Dr Sanjeev Bandi, Dr Van Tung Bui, Dai Aoki, Danling Xiao and Heather Black have all made big impacts in 2016.

ABC: Lisa Clarke and Daniel Battley

This year Australia Plus has profiled some of the most inspiring people across the country. Students, refugees, artists, doctors and volunteers are all working towards making our world a better place. Here are 10 people who call Australia home making an impact for the greater good in 2016.

Mili Udani

Mili Udani honoured her son's wish to donate his organs when he died.
When Mili Udani's 7 year old son Deyaan died of a blood clot and haemorrhage on his brain, she wanted to honour his wishes to donate his organs.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Mili Udani and her family understand firsthand how organ donation can make a positive impact on the lives of others.

They were on an extended holiday in India visiting loved ones when, a few days before coming back to Australia for the beginning of school, their 7-year-old son Deyaan complained of having an intense headache. He died a week later from blood clots and a haemorrhage on the brain.

Deyan became India's youngest organ donor, and was able to save the lives of four people, including a seven-year-old girl who received his heart.

Now Mili and her husband Rupesh spread the word of organ donation by sharing Deyan's story at different public events.

"All I was thinking was that was my son's wish and I have to do it."

- Mili Udani

Dr Van Tung Bui

Dr Van Tung Bui is an anaesthetist working in Sydney, who volunteers for the charity Cambodia Vision.
Dr Van Tung Bui is an anaesthetist working in Sydney, who volunteers for the charity Cambodia Vision.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Eight years ago an invitation from a friend to join a humanitarian trip to Cambodia was the beginning of a lasting connection with the country and its people for Dr Van Tung Bui.

The Vietnamese-born Australian anaesthetist is one of a handful of volunteers who travel to remote regions throughout Cambodia each year with the charity Cambodia Vision, helping restore sight to those who have become blind from cataracts.

Tung's own background as a Vietnamese refugee gives him a unique insight into why humanitarian work is so important.

"I like the work. The work makes a difference. It’s only a small number of people but it means a lot to them."

- Dr Van Tung Bui

Heather Black

Heather Black is an Australia teacher volunteering in Kiribati to develop the country's first sign language dictionary.
Heather Black is an Australia teacher volunteering in Kiribati to develop the country's first sign language dictionary.

Supplied.

After working as a teacher for 35 years, Australian retiree Heather Black made the bold decision to pack her bags and move to the island nation of Kiribati to volunteer at the country's only special needs school.

For the last 15 months Heather has been working at the Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Special Needs to help staff produce the country's first sign language dictionary.

The dictionary is a first step towards building a deaf community where people share a common language, develop a sense of belonging, build self-confidence and promote an awareness and understanding of deafness within the broader community.

"Deaf children generally are even more expressive, open, honest and appreciative than hearing children, making them such a pleasure to work with."

- Heather Black

Abdul Abdullah

Abdul Abdullah creates community conversations by making art driven by political commentary.

Supplied

Sydney-based artist Abdul Abdullah knows from personal experience what it is like to be judged because of your name or religion.

The seventh-generation Australian has received strong, and at times abusive, responses to his work which explores the experiences of young Australian Muslims.

The politically-minded Archibald Prize finalist is intentionally creating politicised work to challenge stereotypes and make a comment on society.

"I am influenced by ongoing political discussions in Australia that have created an environment where acceptable speech in regards to Muslims and other minorities has shifted in an unfavourable way."

- Abdul Abdullah

Dr Sanjeev Bandi

Dr Sanjeev Bandi from Mackay is participating in Movember for his ninth year in a row.
Dr Sanjeev Bandi from Mackay is participating in Movember for his ninth year in a row.

ABC: Daniel Battley

Dr Bandi has been in living in Mackay for the past 18 years working as a urologist with a focus on men's health issues.

Since 2008 he has raised over $200,000 for Movember when, for the month of November, men across the globe grow moustaches to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men's suicide.

He is astonished to receive so much support from his community because times are tough in the region after the downturn in the mining industry. 

"This year currently I am fourth in the world, and [the] highest individual fundraiser in Australia."

- Dr Sanjeev Bandi

Dunya Alruhaimi

Dunya Alruhaimi
Dunya Alruhaimi.

ABC: Jennifer Ingall

Dunya Alruhaimi's mother emphasised the importance of an education to her Iraqi-born daughter - describing it as "a powerful weapon that every woman needs".

Now living in Armidale, Dunya is studying a Master of Education at the University of New England, and uses her spare time to help a number of local Iraqi women and mothers by volunteering as an Arabic translator, and organising swimming and driving lessons.

"Education is not just sitting in the classroom and learning from the teacher. Education also includes community engagement - you can learn by getting involved in Australian culture."

- Dunya Alruhaimi

Danling Xiao

Artist Danling Xiao working out of her inner city studio in Sydney.
Artist Danling Xiao working out of her inner city studio in Sydney. She studies images on her phone to inspire ideas for her food sculptures.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Through her blog Mundane Matters, Danling Xiao creates fruit and vegetable sculptures and sensory experiences using ingredients from nature to nurture the mind and inspire sustainable creative living.

Danling began making one fruit or vegetable sculpture a day, and quickly gained a big following. The official Instagram account took notice of her vibrant work and featured one of her images to its 191 million followers.

Her project isn't all about creating cute fruity pictures for people to gush over though. Rather than creating art for art's sake, Danling aims to share ideas with others and raise awareness about sustainable living. After the photo is snapped, Danling cooks up her colourful creations for dinner that night, as she has a zero waste policy.

"A lot of people are hungry, and they don't even have food to eat, but we are wasting millions of tons of food in the developed world."

- Danling Xiao

Dai Aoki

Dai Aoki has been able to access the right HIV treatment and he now feels healthier than ever before.
Dai Aoki has been able to access the right HIV treatment and he now feels healthier than ever before.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

When Dai Aoki first moved to Australia in 2001 from Japan, he contracted HIV after having unprotected sex.

After everything he has been through though, Dai has turned his life around. He is currently on antiretroviral therapy and feels healthier than ever before.

Dai recently became an ambassador for the Good Quality of Life campaign and hopes that by sharing his story, if even one person feels more educated about safe sex, or questions their own misconceptions about people living with HIV, his life is meaningful.

"It has made me a much better person, that's why I don't regret anything about my history or past experience."

- Dai Aoki

Zaki Haidari

Zaki Haidari
Zaki Haidari

ABC: Yale MacGillivray

Having fled war-torn Afghanistan with only $100 in his pocket, Zaki Haidari arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker.

He worked hard to receive a scholarship to study a Bachelor in Business and Marketing at Martin College in Sydney, which realised his lifelong dream of getting an education.

In his spare time, Zaki volunteers as a food tour guide - through his local council in Western Sydney - and invites participants to feel and experience multiculturalism through food.

"Australia is a country full of opportunities, so try to make the most of it while you're studying. When you finish your studies, you're not just getting a degree - you're also getting a lot of experience."

- Zaki Haidari

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

Sukhjit performing at a poetry book launch in Melbourne
Sukhjit performing at a poetry book launch in Melbourne.

Supplied: Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa is a Sikh activist who shot to fame on Australia's Got Talent after performing a poem about her and her family’s experience of racism and discrimination in Australia.

With charisma and humour, Sukhjit shared with her audiences her vision of a "warm Australia" and highlighted the 150 year history of Sikhs in Australia.

She believes it is really important to use irony, sarcasm, humour - along with anger - to tackle the truth and harsh realities of racism which need to be confronted head on.

"We have this concept in Sikhism called seva, which means selfless acts of service. You can interpret that in a literal and physical sense - helping the homeless and giving aid in a natural disaster. I've also interpreted the arts as my way of serving my community and my world."

- Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

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